We are halfway through the 2019 Cheltenham Festival which means that the action switches from the Old Course to the New for Thursday’s card. It is headed by the Stayers’ Hurdle which we have previewed elsewhere but here is our look at the other races on a competitive day at Prestbury Park.
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1.30 Cheltenham: JLT Novice Chase
The first race of the 3rd day is a no bet race for us. The 2 market leaders reoppose again with Defi Du Seuil bidding to make it a hat trick over victories over Lostintranslation. I can’t pick between the 2 and the prices are a bit skinny to get involved.
2.10 Cheltenham: Pertemps Handicap Hurdle
A 3 mile handicap hurdle with a big field of 24 runners. Sire Du Berlais is a warm order after finishing 4th in last year’s Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle but I’d rather throw darts at longer priced runners.
I like to focus on the classier, higher weighted runners which leads me first to First Assignment. Horses younger than 7 have a good record in this race so, being a 6 year old, I’m drawn to his chances. He ran 3rd, less than 2 lengths behind Stayers Hurdle favourite Paisley Park, in a traditionally good prep for this, and has also won twice over the course this season. There are no stamina doubts.
A Toi Phil is Gigginstown’s main hope and had his prep run in the Punchestown handicap last month that is the key trial from across the water. He stayed on well into 4th that day and his hold up style should suit in this big field. He hasn’t been out of the top 5 in 4 starts in big fields over 18+ runners so I’m hopeful he’ll go close.
I can’t resist having a small bet on Padleyourowncanoe at massive odds. This 5 year old is a crazy price, judged on his 4th in last year’s Fred Winter and he proved that was no fluke by winning a qualifier 2 starts ago. He ran a poor race last time out but was never in the race having raced out wide. He could surprise.
Back First Assignment (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 Coral (⅕ odds 1-6)
Back A Toi Phil (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 19.00 Betfair (⅕ odds 1-6)
Back it here:
Back Padleyourowncanoe (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 51.00 Bet365 (¼ odds 1-5)
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2.50 Cheltenham: Ryanair Chase
This is an absolutely cracking renewal of the Ryanair with little to separate Footpad, Monalee, Road To Respect, Un De Sceaux and Frodon.
Footpad is the current favourite who won the Arkle last year but has stamina to prove over an extra half mile whilst Monalee and Frodon are front runners that are proven over further but will want to take each other on for the lead. Frodon loves it here and has been brilliant for Bryony Frost but is just below top class. Un De Sceaux has finished 1st and 2nd in the last 2 runnings but is approaching the veteran stage (now an 11 year old). This race is also a much stronger renewal than previous.
The one I like is Road To Respect. Better known as a 3 mile chaser, he is certain to stay and speed shouldn’t be an issue as the front runners will make this a stamina test. He was 4th in last year’s Gold Cup and won the Plate at the 2017 Festival. This term, he won a 3 mile chase impressively and, last time out, finished 2nd to strong Gold Cup hope Bellshill. For me, he has the least to prove of the market leaders and is the one I want to have on side.
PLACED – Back Road To Respect (e/w) for a 2/10 stake at 5.50 Boylesports (⅕ odds 1-3)
Back it here:
4.10 Cheltenham: Plate Handicap Chase
Another big field for this handicap chase and I don’t see a standout contender. Therefore, I’m gambling on a couple of longer priced runners.
The first of which is the Twiston-Davies trained and ridden Splash Of Ginge. He loves soft ground which he should get and was 2nd last year off this mark. He’s been lightly race since and his poor form can be put down to either trip or going. That has protected his mark and I see no reason why he can’t go one better.
Didero Vallis is the 2nd selection from the Venetia Williams yard, who has a great record in this race. He won 2 chases at around this trip earlier on in this season but, on his one run this calendar year, he flopped over 3 miles. He has all the hallmarks of a horse being laid out for a crack at this, and back at a more suitable trip, he could go very close indeed.
Back Splash Of Ginge (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 William Hill (⅕ odds 1-5)
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PLACED – Back Didero Vallis (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 Bet365 (¼ odds 1-5)
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4.50 Cheltenham: Mares’ Novice’ Hurdle
I have no strong view of this race but with 3 winning favourites in the 3 runnings to date, Epatante looks hard to oppose.
5.30 Cheltenham: Amateur Riders Handicap Chase
An amateur riders chase over the Gold Cup trip, you need a jockey that isn’t claiming an allowance because horsemanship counts.
The one I like is No Comment. He was 6th in the 4 miler here 12 months ago behind Rathvinden and that race has proved to be a good trail. He’s only had 1 run this term so looks to have been laid out for a tilt at this. He has form in big fields having finished 1st, 2nd twice and 7th in 4 runs with fields of 22+ runners, albeit either NHF or over hurdles.
The longer priced selection is the 12 year old Perfect Candidate who loves it here. He’s a 3 time course winner and was 3rd last time out, at this track, behind Beware The Bear who won here on Tuesday. He’s on a good mark of 140 having won here 18 months ago off a 12lb higher mark. He should give his rider a good spin.
PLACED – Back No Comment (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Betfred (¼ odds 1-5)
Back it here:
Back Perfect Candidate (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 34.00 Bet365 (¼ odds 1-5)