Wednesday got off to a pretty good start – naming the winner in each of the first three races, but it was sad to see Douvan and Ruby Walsh falling when travelling quite nicely in the feature.
Thursday at Cheltenham Festival 2018 has another high class card, and we’ve tips for each race.
Today’s Cheltenham Races – Quick Links
Race 1 – JLT Novices Chase – 1:30pm
2m4f (2m3f198y) (New) JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller) (Class 1) (5yo+)
In the opener, we like Nicky Henderson’s TERREFORT (FR) who won really nicely in the soft at Sandown a month ago. If you’re looking for longer than the expected 4/1 on that one, then we think a big run could be expected from another French bred sort, in the form of BIGMARTRE (FR) who will be ridden by Harry Bannister for Harry Whittington at a price north of 20/1. This one needs to reproduce form shown at Newbury in December today to make the frame, but, should he do so, could land a win at decent odds.
Race 2 – Pertemps Final – 2:10pm
3m (2m7f213y) (New) Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)
We’ve found another long-ish one for each way followers in the second race, where SYKES (IRE) is looking nicely priced based on a couple of really nice performances, particularly a race on the heavy at Ffos Las three starts ago. A replica run here would see some return on investment at 28/1. Ignore LOUIS’ VAC POUCHE (IRE) at your peril, though. This one actually clocked better, last time out, when winning, so is capable of more. The main reason we mention this 10/1 shot second is today’s weights, which mean that a little improvement is needed for the win here. Will be ridden by champ Richard Johnson for Philip Hobbs, and this pair know what they are about.
Race 3 – Ryanair Chase – 2:50pm
2m5f (2m4f166y) (New) Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Festival Trophy) (Class 1) (5yo+)
Just one selection for the Ryanair Chase, and it is BALCO DES FLOS (FR) who will carry the sponsor’s colours for Henry de Bromhead under Davy Russell. This one was a little surprising at Leopardstown last time out, running much closer to Gold Cup hopeful, and fellow Gigginstown member, Road to Respect. We won’t know until Friday just how good Road to Respect is, but that was a serious performance last time out by both horses, with today’s selection forcing the pace – and this one has actually clocked better, also on soft ground. At 12/1, if you can get 3 places, this looks a nice each-way chance, against some big names. Both the market leaders have put in performances like the selection – over the years – so they are capable, but they haven’t produced anything equal on course for more than two seasons. Our selection has done it at this distance and beyond, on soft/heavy and that will matter today. Could run the legs out of the favourite if the ground is still soft today. Class is permanent, though the prices are short enough today on the top two.
Race 4 – Stayers Hurdle – 3:30pm
3m (2m7f213y) (New) Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)
Our clock say this comes down to two horses: PENHILL (GB) and SAM SPINNER (GB) and the question is whether or not the almost year off course has done any harm to the former. We don’t really need to answer that, prices of 12/1 and 3/1 are pretty much telling us all we need to know on that score: level stakes, each-way on the former, and enjoy the race. Remember Penhill has some serious class, but the form horse is the one still trained in Middleham, Sam Spinner. Maybe worth a small forecast.
Race 5 – Handicap Chase – 4:10pm
2m5f (2m4f166y) (New) Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)
A couple of each-way selections in this race for you: ROMAIN DE SENAM (FR) and KING’S ODYSSEY (IRE) both of whom will be double figure prices. Find a bookie offering many places, and hope for a clear passage in this ultra-competitive big-field handicap chase.
Race 6 – Mares Novices Hurdle – 4:50pm
2m1f (2m179y) (New) Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Dawn Run) (Class 1) (4yo+)
In the mares novices, we’re going to name the odds on favourite, Willie Mullins trained LAURINA (FR) but the price is a little off-putting, particularly when we think the apparent Mullins second string PIETRALUNGA (FR) actually clocked an incredible time on her only rules start at Clonmel, on the heavy, in January. This latter choice is our NAP OF THE DAY as an each-way 33/1 to land the spoils for team Mullins.
Race 7 – Kim Muir Amateurs Chase – 5:30pm
3m2f (New) Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (Class 2) (5yo+ 0-145)
For the final race of the day, the Kim Muir, we have another couple of each-way fancies in the form of: ACTINPIECES (GB) and CAPTAIN BUCK’S (FR), both of whom have switched codes, but appear slightly better soft ground hurdlers than they made chasers. This might tie into their potentially value odds. Its a monster field, and amateur riders, so may be a good “getting out” stakes, but potentially could have a different result each time over ten runs, so not one to go wild about for betting.
Good luck if you are heading to Cheltenham today!