Cheltenham Festival 2021: Day 3 Preview – Thursday

With just two days remaining of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, Stefan Fellows gives his picks ahead of Thursday's action at Prestbury Park which features the Ryanair Chase And the Stayers Hurdle.

Stefan Fellows

We’re now at the halfway stage of the Cheltenham Festival and our top tipster is here with all the information you need ahead of day three at Prestbury Park.

Stefan Fellows has cast his eye over all the runners and riders taking to the track on the third day of the most famous race meeting in the National Hunt calendar, including the feature races; the Ryanair Chase and the Stayers Hurdle.

13.20 Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller)

horse Racing Jumps

Key Profile

  • 6 or 7 years old, Samcro the stat buster last season.
  • Won at least 1 of last 3 starts and preferably been successful in a graded chase, 7 from 10
  • Has previous Cheltenham Festival form, All 10 winners
  • Top 2 in the betting, 7 from 10 winners

Key Races

  • 5 winners had their warm up race at Leopardstown prior

Key Trainers

  • Willie Mullins has won 4 of the 10 renewals of this race with Irish based trainers winning 8 in total.

Leading Fancies

This looks all about Envoi Allen, unbeaten in 11 career starts to date it’s hard to find to any reason of strong credential to oppose him here. A dual winner festival winner already having won the Champion bumper and the Ballymore he has since taken well to the larger obstacles.

Adaptable to conditions that form is considerably clear of his rivals and he looks the banker bet for day 3 of the meeting. Of those at bigger prices and worth considering in the various without the favourite or forecast markets is Fusil Raffles.

The Nicky Henderson runner is 3 from 4 over fences this season and looks to have been kept fresh for spring campaign after his course and distance success here in December. Good ground suits well and I can see him picking off a few of these who are likely to attempt to serve it up early to the favourite.

Selection: Envoi Allen

Each Way: Fusil Raffles

13.55 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

Cheltenham Horse Racing

Key Profile

  • Aged 7 or younger and not raced more than 10 times over hurdles
  • 9 of the last 10 winners all rated between 138 and 148
  • At worst placed last time out

Key Races

  • Irish winners normally have run in the Christmas Leopardstown Qualifier, 6 of the last 7

Key Trainer

  • Irish based runners have won the last 5, the last 3 renewals courtesy of Gordon Elliot. Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls still to win race.

Leading Fancies

The Bosses Oscar looks to have been laid out for this and was a good 2nd in the key Leopardstown qualifier for this. He is likely to go close but he`s well found in the market and claiming jockeys do not have the best of records in these competitive handicaps.

Dandy Mag won that Leopardstown qualifier but has to bounce back from a pretty poor effort last time, he`s on worse terms today and the record of past Willie Mullin’s runners in the race is a little off-putting for that I can see him running well at a price.

Milliner is currently first reserve and is a little below the ideal ratings for a winner of this race but if he does get to take his chance is worthy of each-way support, looking a progressive type who should prove better than his current mark in time.

Ireland have dominated this race in recent years but the home runners look a little stronger this time around. Imperial Alcazar heads the challenge on the back of his comfortable victory in a Warwick qualifier. Most of his racing has come on softer ground though and that’s enough for me to leave him at current odds.

Things didn’t go to plan for Champagne Platinum over fences last season so it was no surprise to see Nicky Henderson switch him back to the smaller obstacles this time around. He had a light campaign this season but stayed on well to finish 2nd in a qualifier at Haydock last month.

It looks like this has been the plan for some while and with the ground coming in his favour he is my main fancy for the race. Paul Nicholls is yet to win the Pertemps from a few attempts which is a slight concern however he looks to have a good chance of breaking that duck here with Southfield Harvest.

He`s a consistent sort who has not done much wrong in just the 5 starts over hurdles to date. More improvement is likely and the drying ground will suit.

Selection: Champagne Platinum

Each Way: Southfield Harvest (Milliner if runs)

14.30 Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy)

Mister Fisher Horse

Key Profile

  • Previous Festival form with a preference to a previous course victory
  • Top 2 finish last time preferably in a grade 1
  • 2nd season chasers who have had no more than 11 runs over fences
  • Last 7 winners all French-bred

Key Races

  • Had raced in that seasons King George 7 from 27, also last years renewal for this intermediate test.

Key Trainer

  • 3 of the last 5 trained by Willie Mullins

Leading Fancies

Willie Mullins has done well in this recently and looks to hold a strong hand once more. Melon and Min both have the form to go close a there best but the former is now 0 from 5 at Cheltenham while Min is now a 10-year-old and I`d be happy to let him win at the likely odds.

I’m looking to focus on the more lightly raced chase runners in the field and the 3 in the line-up who make most appeal are Allaho, Fakir D`oudairies, Mister Fisher.

Allaho ran a good third in last season`s RSA chase when just failing to get home on soft ground and although taking time to find his form this season, he bounced back to something like his best when giving weight to the mare Elimay last time.

The more this race becomes a speed test the more I can see the Joseph O`Brien trained Fakir D`Doudaries feature in the finish. He has a 4th and 2nd place finish to his name at the last 2 festivals and his second and has always appealed as horse who could be better suited to this type of trip.

He looked to be coming back to his best when finishing 2nd at to Chacun Poir Soi at the Dublin Racing Festival when last seen and the drier the ground the more I like his chances.  Mister Fisher would be the one from the English runners who I would like to have on my side in some way.

He’s not been seen since giving weight to the grade 1 winning Kalashnikov and it`s no concern being a Nicky Henderson trained runner that he has not been seen since that course and distance victory.

He finished 4th behind Samcro in the March chase but I feel that’s a race that came a bit too soon for him in his career and he looks more on an upward curve than others in the field.

Selection: Mister Fisher

Each Way: Fakir D`Doudaries

15.05 Stayers’ Hurdle

Sire Du Berlais Horse

Key Profile

  • Aged between 6 and 8, 28 of the last 31
  • Not finished out the first 2 that season, 15 of the last 19
  • Last time out winner, 11 of the last 16
  • Previous Grade 1 form preferably over this trip

Key Races

  • Course form whether this be the Cleeve hurdle or more recently last 3 winners from the Albert Bartlett

Key Trainers

  • A race normally dominated by the English who have won 14 of the last 17 renewals

Leading Fancies

2019 winner Paisley Park heads the market here in his bid, to regain his stayers hurdle crown. The Emma Lavelle trained runner was a disappointing 7th in last season’s renewal but that wasn’t his true form and a better showing is expected this time around.

He’s had a lighter campaign this time around with just the 2 runs so far this season and has looked like he was back to near his best on both runs. I think he`s a better horse on a decent surface, his top form is clear of his rivals and is a bit bigger price than he should be due to last season’s run which I’m happy to ignore.

Last season’s winner Lisnagar Oscar has to be worth a mention. He probably hasn’t got the full credit he deserved for his somewhat of a surprise victory last season.

The Rebecca Curtis runner put a couple of below-par efforts behind him when running a better race at Haydock last time and I’d expect another step forward this time. However, his best form is with cut in the ground and that looks unlikely.

Sire Du Berlais looks to head the Irish challenge the dual Pertemps winner won a grade 2 on his reappearance this season before finding the improving Flooring Porter to strong in the Christmas Hurdle.

We can expect him to have been trained only with this race in mind this season and should take another step forward again, though for me his chances would improve on softer ground.

The progressive Flooring Porter had a couple more of these behind in that Leopardstown race and I expect him to come out best again this time around. The 6-year-old has been one of the most progressive horses in training last year improving out of handicaps to take the graded race last time.

He’s been given a break since to avoid winter ground and with conditions looking ideal and with some more untapped potential, he looks set to run a big race.

Selection: Paisley Park

Each Way: Flooring Porter

15.40 Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase

Cheltenham Festival Horse

Key Profile

  • Carries 11 stone or less, only 4 in last 23 winners carried more
  • No more than 12 starts over fences
  • Winner of a class 3 or above chase over a similar distance
  • Lightly raced improving chasers, last 7 winners below 11 chase starts, last 4 novices.

Leading Trainers

  • English trained runners. Despite a slight upturn for Ireland in recent years, it looks like home runners are starting to dominate once more.

Leading Fancies

There looks a lot to like about the chances of Farclas here. The past triumph hurdle winner has been running consistently well in some high-quality handicaps over fences this season. He’s only been handed a 3lb rise based on his run in Ireland last time which I think is more than fair and is 3 from 4 on good ground.

Joseph O Brien runs a couple of interesting runners in the shape of Fils  D`oudairies and Wave Of Sea. The former chased Envoi Allen home in a novice chase and has the potential to be well treated of 145, he does lack any type of large field experience and the quicker ground is an unknown.

Wave Of Sea on the other hand was a good winner of a handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival over 2 mile. He’s off a 11lb higher mark today but he’s only had the 6 chase starts and offers further potential at this trip.

The Shunter ran in hurdle race last time out which is a little off-putting, that aside though he fits the profile of many recent winners of the race being an improving lightly raced chased. He won the Greatwood hurdle here this year so we know he handles the course and big field environment so should go well.

Sully Doc Aa has looked progressive over fences this season, he was on his return at Ascot and then was a good 3rd at Newbury last time when making a mistake at a crucial stage. He`s at the right end of the weights I think for this and I`m keen on his chances

Selection: Farclas

Each Way: Sully Doc Aa

16.15 Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Dawn Run)

Key Profile

  • A French bred horse has won 4 of the 5 renewals and all started career in that country.
  • Top 3 finish last time out preferably in a graded race
  • 5 years of age, 4 out of 5
  • Top 2 in official ratings, 4 out of 5

Key Trainer

  • Willie Mullins has won this race on all 5 occasions

Leading Fancies

With Willie Mullins being responsible for all 5 winners of the race it makes sense to start with his challenge once more. Pont Aval was the winner of good ground bumper early in her career so should have no issues with conditions.

She comfortably won a Punchestown novice last month, which I’m not convinced that was the strongest of races, at this stage I think her overall form profile lacks the depth of a couple in the field however she’s a big enough price and in a race in which it’s hard to separate the front of the market, she is worth taking a chance on.

Stablemate Hook Up has a bit more depth to her form she finished 5 lengths behind Royal Kahala before finishing 4th to the now Supreme winner Appreciate It when coming from a favourable position. That form all has come on a softer surface though and she has not looked the most natural over her obstacles at times.

Royal Kahala , Roseys Hollow and Gauloise finished 1-2-3 and were only covered by 3 lengths when they meet at Fariyhouse last time. It`s really anyone’s guess for me who comes out best this time around and I’d be happy to look elsewhere at likely odds at this stage.

Henry De Bromhead has a couple in the line-up, Telmesomething ran well in a large field handicap last time and is the choice of Rachel Blackmore. Magic Daze has more of an unexposed profile to her.

She was 3rd to Gallard Du Mesnil on hurdles debut before showing improvement to make all for victory in a novice event at Clonmel on her only other start. She has a fair bit to find with some in the field but that is not out of the question and I can see her going well at a fair price.

Selection: Pont Aval

Each Way: Magic Daze


16.50 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

Cheltenham Festival Horse

Key Profile

  • Last 9 winners all officially rated between 137 and 143
  • Aged between 7 & 9, 10 of the last 11
  • Will have shown recent form over this trip
  • Fancied runners within the market. 8 of last 11 9/1 or shorter

Key Races

  • 3 of the last 10 winners ran in the Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Open meeting

Leading Fancies

Hold The Note finished 3rd in last season’s novice handicap at this meeting and finds himself 5lb lower this time around. He was only a 6-year-old then and after a couple of below-par efforts earlier this season he looked to be running into form when a good 2nd at Newbury last time out.

Good ground suits and despite being a maiden over fences still he should go well. This looks to have been the target for Mount Ida for some time and she’s put in a couple of eye-catching performances this season, she looks open to improvement over this type of trip and on a sounder surface.

Morning Vicar is another who should appreciate the drying conditions, he’s not seen the course for 104 days but hes often shown his best fresh and never been out the first 3 when returning from a break.

The Henry De Bromhead trained Plan Of Attack could only manage fourth in this race 12 months ago. He returned this season with 2 disappointing efforts but did show a bit more at Leopardstown when last seen.

The gelding has had another break since and arrives here a fresh horse on a favourable mark. Blinkers go on for the first time and he looks set to ruin a big race once again.

Selection: Plan Of Attack

Each Way: Morning Vicar

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