Punters will be hoping for the luck of the Irish on St Patrick’s Day at Cheltenham with the Stayers’ Hurdle, Ryanair Chase and the JLT Novices’ Chase all on the agenda.
There are a number of favourites to look out for, including Defi Du Seuil, Footpad and Epatante. But who will prevail on Day Three at Prestbury Park?
We’re on hand to guide you through with our Cheltenham Festival Tips.
1:30 JLT Novices’ Chase – Voix Du Reve (each-way)
The JLT has only been run since 2011, but Willie Mullins has already made it his own. The Irish trainer has won the race four times in eight years, including three times between 2015 and 2017.
That leads us to interesting outsider Voix Du Reve, who we think can challenge the seemingly rock solid front pairing of Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation, who’ve traded blows this season.
Our pick had every chance alongside long-time Arkle favourite Le Richebourg last time out and also boasts a 7l win over Hardline at Grade 2 level this season too.
Ruby Walsh will look to give the seven-year-old a frontrunning ride having stayed this trip over hurdles previously.
2:10 Pertemps Network Final – First Assignment (Lively Longshot)
First Assignment ticks all of the key form pointers for a Pertemps winner. He’s had four or more seasonal runs, finished in the frame last time out and is a six-year-old English-trained horse.
Those four qualities have all be crucial over the last decade if you want to win the Pertemps. His bare form is decent too with a 1¾l defeat to Stayers’ fav Paisley Park on his copybook this term.
He’s also 2/2 at Cheltenham this season, including when finishing 9l ahead of Boyhood in a Listed race in October, which makes us think we’ve got a decent ticket for the Pertemps lottery.
2:50 Ryanair Chase – Frodon
There are some classy types in here, including Road To Respect, Monalee and last year’s Arkle winner Footpad. But it’s Cheltenham specialist and ever-improving Frodon who can prevail.
Paul Nicholls’ loveable star has been going from strength-to-strength under Bryony Frost, following up a Caspian Caviar Gold Cup win off top weight with success in the Cotswold Chase.
The pair have forged an unbreakable bond over the last 12 months or so and always give a great account at Cheltenham, winning twice and placing once around Prestbury Park this season.
Frodon now is a much better horse than the one who finished fifth in this last year. We reckon he can take it to the big boys and spring a popular shock.
3:30 Stayers’ Hurdle – Paisley Park (NAP)
Paisley Park is one of the breakout stars of the season, and it’s hard to see him getting beat if he can reproduce anything near his course and distance win in the Cleeve Hurdle last month.
West Approach was the closest challenger that day, and even he could only finish 11l behind Emma Lavelle’s raider. That means it’s down to the Irish to mount an unlikely challenge.
With the ageing and unreliable Faugheen leading the travelling contingent, it’s difficult to see the impressive seven-year-old getting beat over a distance he’s made his own this season.
4:10 Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap – Eamon An Cnoic
The money has come for Eamon An Cnoic and the eight-year-old makes for an interesting proposition having finished a creditable fifth round here in November.
David Pipe has won this race three times in the last decade. His raider will relish any tread in the ground and is worth a check in the market depending on Capeland’s performance in the JLT.
Our pick finished 3½l ahead of the aforementioned raider at Chepstow last time.
4:50 Dawn Run Novices’ Hurdle – Posh Trish (NB)
Willie Mullins has won all three previous renewals of this race but none of his seven-fold contingent this time around arrive with the same status as Laurina, Let’s Dance or Limini.
Posh Trish looks highly-progressive for the Nicholls yard and is already proven twice at Listed level, including when ahead of subsequent Grade 2 runner-up Indefatigable at Taunton.
He comes with a burgeoning reputation and can get up over 2m 1f to make it five from six over hurdles.
5:30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap – Any Second Now
Any Second Now may by nought from nine over fences but that can be put down to the level at which he’s been racing, with a recent 4l-third at Grade 2 level looking potentially smart form.
This looks a much easier assignment for Gordon Elliott’s runner, who will have the help of top Irish amateur Derek O’Connor to guide him through the 3m 2f slog.
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