Three fan favourites dominate the card on Day Three at the Cheltenham Festival, with Faugheen, Frodon and Paisley Park bidding to make it two golden hours instead of one at Prestbury Park.
Can they all get over the line and bring the house down? We’ve previewed all of the action in our Cheltenham Day Three Betting Tips.
13:30 – Marsh Novices’ Chase – Faugheen (NB)
Staff at Cheltenham will need to call in the builders if Faugheen wins the Marsh. Why? Because punters will take the roof off the grandstand. This isn’t a sentimental pick, though; our selection has every chance.
The veteran has excelled since trainer Willie Mullins made the ingenious decision to switch the 12-year-old to fences after seven years over hurdles, beating some decent rivals in back-to-back Grade 1 successes.
Now he’s back at a track he loves having twice won at the Festival in the last decade. If his jumping holds up, then the Machine has every chance in a race which isn’t laced with quality.
14:10 – Pertemps Network Final – Welsh Saint
For such a competitive race the Pertemps has a habit of throwing up short price winners. And with that in mind, it’s Welsh Saint who gets the nod for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville.
The six-year-old displayed his obvious staying qualities when taking a 3m qualifier at Haydock last month. He remains unexposed as a stayer and can continue his progression off 4lb higher in a competitive renewal.
14:50 – The Ryanair – Frodon
Frodon and Bryony Frost duly obliged for us 12 months ago. And we reckon one of the best pairings in all of sport – let alone Horse Racing – has a fantastic chance of following that up on St Patrick’s Day this year.
Critics will point out Frodon’s form hasn’t been up to scratch this season. But it’s worth noting his first run of the campaign came with six fences omitted, while four ulcers were detected after his run at Haydock.
Since then he’s won the Silviniaco Conti Chase, while those at Ditcheat are reporting that he’s working well at home. It won’t be easy with A Plus Tard and Min to contend with, but the omens look good for our pick.
15:30 – Stayers’ Hurdle – Paisley Park, City Island (each-way)
Paisley Park has swept aside all before him over the last 18 months. It’s difficult to see how that will change as Emma Lavelle’s star bids to become the first horse since Big Buck’s to land back-to-back Stayers’ Hurdles.
With that in mind, it’s City Island who piques our interest each-way. The seven-year-old sprung a minor shock to win the Ballymore 12 months ago and reverts to sticks after two unsuccessful spins over fences.
He’s had wind surgery since that last run, and back over obstacles that he showed a particular aptitude for at the Festival last year, he could be well-placed to run into the places at a nice price.
16:10 – Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate – La Bague Au Roi (Lively Longshot)
Beware the Graded performer in Handicap company. La Bague Au Roi hasn’t enjoyed a great season by her own high standards, but she is a dual Grade 1 winner, which warrants respect in a race like this.
She’ll go off a handy mark here, and that combined with a reduction in trip should make her a leading candidate if she can discover anything like the form she was displaying last term.
16:50 – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – Minella Melody (NAP)
There’s nothing exciting about going for the favourite but it’s hard to look past Minella Melody here.
The six-year-old is unbeaten over hurdles and won the Solerina at Fairyhouse last time out, which has thrown up two of the last four winners of the Mares Novices’ Hurdle, including Laurina and Limini.
She’s already put it up to a number of those who reoppose today, and after recording a decent figure against the clock the last day, she has obvious claims in this.
17:30 – Kim Muir Challenge Cup – Le Breuil
It’s hard to think of a horse more ideally suited to a race than Le Breuil and the Kim Muir. The eight-year-old loves nothing more than a good old-fashioned slog, as he showed last year in winning the National Hunt Chase.
Ben Pauling will have campaigned him with this race in mind. And on the same winning mark from last season, we reckon he can stick it out over 3m 2f with four-time winner of the race Jamie Codd on board.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication