After two days on the old course, Thursday is our first sighting of the new course and is traditionally a very tricky day for punters. The highlight is the Stayers Hurdle – a race that has produced multiple champions over the years – Baracouda twice, Inglis Drever thrice and Big Bucks won it four times in a row between 2009-2012 – but it’s been a much more open affair recently. Willie Mullins has won the last two as Penhill triumphed 12 months after Nichols Canyon, but the eight-year-old hasn’t been seen this season and Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park has emerged as the horse to beat this year.
In the opener, the JLT Novice’s Chase is always an intriguing contest with some top-class winners in the recent past such as Yorkhill and Vautour’s devastating success in 2015. Shattered Love’s victory last year may not have been the strongest renewal and again it looks a pretty open heat. Perhaps the race of the day will be the Ryanair as many of the two-milers could step up in trip as they avoid Altior in the Queen Mother. As is always the case though, the market for this race doesn’t become clear until the week of the Festival.
Thursday also features a couple of very competitive handicaps – the Pertemps Hurdle and the Brown Advisory Plate – as well as the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, which is another race Mullins has farmed by winning all three editions. The Kim Muir then closes proceeding as amateur riders get their chance to shine and the skill of the rider is often a key factor in the final outcome.
Cheltenham Day Three Betting Tips And Schedule
13:30 JLT Novices’ Chase – 2m4f
Irish-based trainers have won seven of the previous eight running’s of the JLT, with the other Jonjo O’Neill, but in 2019 the leading contenders come from Britain. Lostintranslation and Defi Du Suil are difficult to separate in the market and on current form. They’ve faced each other twice this season and it stands at 1-1. The former won at Cheltenham in December, receiving 3lb off his rival, but Phillip Hobbs’ gelding reversed the form at Sandown off level weights and is probably the classier of the two.
It’s difficult to make a strong case for one over the other, but neither seems to be top-class and as they take up so much of the market, there is plenty of value to be found elsewhere. I’ll take them on with Kildisart, who won a C&D handicap off 141 on trial’s day that earned him a rise to 147 and just shy of the leading principles – Lostintranslation 150 and Defi Du Suil 151 – suggesting he is excellent value at the 10/1 mark. Given this isn’t the strongest renewal, Ben Pauling has elected to go down the graded route over one of the handicaps.
Did you know? Only one of eight winners has been priced bigger than 7/1.
14:10 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle – 3m
A fiercely competitive handicap where the horses have to qualify throughout the season. It’s always a very open betting heat with 10 of the last 13 winners sent off at double figures with Fansbet currently offering 9/1 the field. Gordon Elliot won this last year with the now very useful Delta Work and saddles the market leader Sire Du Berlais this time around in the JP McManus silks. It’s worth keeping an eye out for who Davy Russell jocks up on as the master of guiding a horse through these big field handicaps. Last year’s Grand National winning jockey has won the last three renewals of the Pertemps, steering home Presenting Percy and Mall Dini for Pat Kelly prior to Delta Work.
However, at this stage it is First Assignment that interests us. Ian Williams is a canny trainer and one worth keeping onside, especially when he has a horse targeted for a race. This 6yo is two form two at the course and also has form in the book having only lost out by a 1¾ l to Stayers’ Hurdle favourite, Paisley Park
Did you know? Since 2000, only seven horses out of 18 have carried 11st or more to victory
14:50 Ryanair Chase – 2m4½f
When betting on this race at this stage, the first task is working out a horse that will turn up. Many of those near the top of the betting are also entered in either of the more prestigious races, the Queen Mother or the Gold Cup. Min is favourite but is expected to have another crack at Altior, Frodon is suited to the race but the owners are leaning towards the Gold Cup and there are fitness doubts over Footpad who has only been seen twice this season.
One horse who, barring injury, is certain to turn up is the ultra-consistent Top Notch, who looked better than ever when decisively beating Black Corton and Charbel at Kempton in January. Nicky Henderson’s 8-y-o always runs his race and although he is overdue a win at the festival, that doesn’t suggest he doesn’t like it round here having previously run into some useful types – losing by a neck to Peace And Co in the 2015 Triumph Hurdle, fifth to Annie Power the following year, while in 2017 he’d have finished even closer than his one-length defeat to Yorkhill in the JLT had he not blundered the second-last.
Monalee is expected to swerve to Gold Cup for this and is respected as Henry De Bromhead aims to win the race for the second year running. However, we have lingering doubts as to whether he really knows how to battle it out, often fading at the end of races. Un de Sceaux and Waiting Patiently must be respected if there is dig in the ground and finally, we’ll give a mention to Fox Norton, who is another who is very likely to line-up and has plenty of Cheltenham form and back-class.
Did you know? Nine of the last 11 winners had won at Cheltenham before.
15:30 Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle – 3m
This division had been crying out for a leading contender and it finally got one on Cheltenham trials day when Paisley Park hacked up to beat the rest of the British contingent by 12-lengths or more. Emma Lavelle’s progressive gelding put to bed any doubts as to whether he was suited to the Pestbury Park track and is certainly the one they’ve all got to beat.
However, like Sam Spinner last year, the progressive nature of the horse means they could lose out to a classier rival. That was the case when Penhill backed up his Albert Bartlett success with victory in this race 12 months ago. Willie Mullins’ 8yo has once again taken the unconventional route of going straight to the festival without a prep run. They went at a crawl last year which played right into his hands as a former flat horse who had the speed to get up the hill in what was virtually a sprint.
We can’t see the Stayers’ panning out the same way this time and one rival who certainly won’t allow it to happen is stablemate Faugheen. Now, the stats will say that no 11-y-o has won this since Crimson Embers in 1986, but the former Champion Hurdle winner is still very unexposed at this trip. This will be just his fourth attempt at 3m and in his previous three; he won a novice back in 2013, thumped Penhill by 13-lengths from the front at last year’s Punchestown Festival and was travelling very well behind Apple’s Jade at Christmas before falling at the second-last. A victory for ‘the Machine’ would bring the house down and at the prices.
Did you know? Eight of the last 11 winners finished in the first two of all their hurdle starts that season.
16:10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase – 2m4½f
Another ultra-competitive handicap as Fansbet go 10/1 the field. As a middle distance, most of the horses hold multiple entries at the festival so it’s a difficult race to get to grips with from an ante-post point of view and there is generally plenty of value to be found on the day. However, this is Siruh Du Lac’s only intended target and Nick Williams’ 6yo has continued to defy the handicapper with three victories over fences this season, climbing from a mark of 123 to 141, beating the useful Janika over C&D in the latest.
26 of the last 31 winners of this race were officially rated 141 or less and nine of the last 10 winners carried under 11st, of which this horse meets both. Williams and Lizzy Kelly combined to win the Ultima with Coo Star Sivola last year and this gelding could lead them to the winner’s enclosure again.
Did you know? 16 of the last 18 winners returned at a double figure price.
16:50 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – 2m1f
This is the race in which Laurina hosed up by 18-lengths last year and Willie Mullin’s has won the only other two renewals of this race with smart, short-priced mares Let’s Dance and Limini. However, the Irish Champion Trainer doesn’t appear to have such a contender this year, giving the race a much more open look to it. Nicky Henderson’s talk horse Epatanta and Irish raider Honeysuckle dominate the market and are 2/1 and 3/1 respectively, but both lack in experience compared to Paul Nicholls’ Posh Trish.
This rangy mare won a Listed mares’ novice hurdle at Taunton in December and has since been left to freshen up with this the main target. She’s won a bumper around Cheltenham before and is a no-nonsense ride for Harry Cobden, so looks a rock-solid option at a double figure price.
17:30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase – 3m2f
Like the 4-miler on the opening day, the Kim Muir is another race limited only to amateur riders. Once again, jockey bookings will be key as the difference between the best and the worst is a lot more pronounced in the amateur division than the professional. At this stage we don’t know who will be riding what so we’ll avoid a recommendation, but once the bookings are revealed it’s always worth siding with a horse with top Irish connections that will have the assistance of a top Irish amateur.
Did you know? Jamie Codd has ridden four of the last 10 winners .
Fansbet are committed to giving 50 per cent of their net profits back to fans. To find out more about how they do it, click here!
And is that is not enough check out our Fan Boosts here. The best odds and an unrivalled range of special bets!
Fansbet, about Fans, by fans, for fans.
*odds subject to change