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Cheltenham Festival – Thursday
The action continued yesterday with even more quality racing.
It all started in the 13:30 (14:30) with the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle Neon Wolf went off favourite @ 2/1 and it ran really well but it wasn’t quite good enough to go past the long time leader Willoughby Court @ 14/1 who was aptly named as no one was able to catch him. Back in 3rd was Messire Des Obeaux @ 8/1.
The 14:10 (15:10) RSA Chase was one of the best finishes you are likely to see in a long time. Favourite Might Bite and My Nap of the meeting made all the running and streaked clear but then started to idle when clear in the home straight and began to run side-wards. Stable mate Whisper chased him down and managed to go in front of Might Bite, but Might Bite began running straight again and managed to get back up by the shortest of finishes to win in a photo @ 7/2, Whisper was 2nd @ 9/2 and 3rd was Bellshill @ 5/1.
The Coral Cup 14:50 (15:50) was extremely difficult to pick the winner and coming into the straight about 20 horses had a chance but in the end it went to Mrs J Harrington’s Supasundae @ 16/1. Tranquin Du Seuil @ 12/1 got 2nd and Who Dares Wins @ 33/1 got 3rd.
The big race of the day was the 15:30 (16:30) Queen Mother Champion Chase which seen Willie Mullins’ Douvan go off a very short priced favourite but it really wasn’t his day and only managed a 7th place finish. The finish was fantastic with Special Tiara @ 11/1 leading over the last and Fox Norton @ 7/1 closing with every stride but Special Tiara managed to hold on for the win. Sir Valentino @ 33/1 finished 3rd.
The 16:10 (17:10) Cross Country Chase is always a spectacle with the amount of different types of fences the horses have to get over and the 4 miles they have to cover. This years was no different and it was a 1st & 2nd for trainer Gordon Elliot who continued his fantastic form here at the festival with Cause Of Causes winning @ 4/1 beating Bless The Wings @ 10/1. The favourite Cantlow finished back in 3rd.
The 16:50 (17:50) Fred Winter brought the festivals biggest winner of the meeting so far in the shape of Flying Tiger who managed to win at a massive 33/1 for trainer Nick Williams. It was a great battle up front between the Favourite Divin Bere @ 9/2 and Nietzche @ 12/1 but they only managed 2nd and 3rd respectively, because Tiger Roll came from behind to beat them both.
The 17:30 (18:30) Champion Bumper is always a good marker for looking at some future superstars and we may have another in the form of Fayonagh @ 7/1 for on fire trainer Gordon Elliott. He came into the straight pretty much in last place of the 22 runner field and managed to pass all it’s rivals with a storming run up the Cheltenham hill to take the prize. Debuchet @ 10/1 got 2nd and Claimantakinforgan @ 22/1 got 3rd.
13:30 (14:30 Gib) The JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
This race last year continued Willie Mullins’ dominance with another winner for him and Ruby Walsh with Black Hercules @ 4/1 beat Bristol De Mai @ 4/1.
This year the winning pair have another big chance with last years Neptune winner Yorkhill who is around 11/8 at the moment, if you fancy taking it on Paul Nicholls Politologue which is around 13/2 could be a bet e/w.
14:10 (15:10 Gib) Pertempts Handicap Hurdle (Listed)
Last year Jockey Davy Russell continued his record of winning every year at Cheltenham on Mall Dini @ 14/1 which managed to get in front of Paul Nicholls’ Arpege D’Alene also @ 14/1.
This is a very tricky one to call and I wouldn’t talk you out of backing anything you fancy but for me I will be backing Patrick Kelly and Davy Russell to combine to win this race again for the 2nd year in a row. This year they have Presenting Percy who is around 9/1.
14:50 (15:50 Gib) Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)
Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins teamed up again in the Ryanair with superstar Vautour @ 1/1 who won very impressively. Mullins also had the 2nd placed horse in Valseur Lido @ 11/1.
Mullins and Ruby have a big chance in this again this year with Un De Sceaux who is around the 11/4 mark. In form Gordon Elliott has the other one at the top of the betting in Empire Of Dirt @ 5/2. I think Vaniteux could run a big race at a massive price.
15:30 (16:30 Gib) Stayers Hurdle (World Hurdle) (Grade 1)
The Stayers is always a true test of stamina over 3m and some of the best have won this race including last years winner Thistlecrack which won @ 1/1 ahead of Alpha Des Obeaux.
This year the favourite will be Unowhatimeanharry who is around 6/4 at the moment. I do think the favourite is the one to beat but 28/1 for a horse like Zarkander is very tempting for me.
16:10 (17:10 Gib) Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
The Favourite for the Ryanair Chase Empire Of Dirt won this last year @ 16/1 beating Venitia Williams’ Tango De Juilley @ 33/1.
Diamond King for the inform Gordon Elliott stable is the likely favourite here and is around the 5/1 mark. I like Noel Meade’s horse Road to Respect @ 16/1 and think he could run well.
16:50 (17:50 Gib) Mares Novice Hurdle (Grade 2)
Mullins struck again in the Mares Hurdle with Lumini @ 8/11, the mare was so impressive and ran clear beating Alan King’s Dusky Legend @ 50/1
This year Mullins and Walsh have another short price one in Let’s Dance who is around 7/4, Mullins also trains the 2nd favourite in Airlie Beach @ 4/1. I think the favourite will win this one.
17:30 (18:30 Gib) Kim Muir’s Challenge Cup Amateur Riders Handicap Chase
The final race of day 3 the Challenge Cup chase was won by the 2017 Cross Country winner Cause Of Causes @ 9/2 beating A Good Skin @ 14/1.
Could we have another future Cross Country winner running here this year? Cause Of Causes trainer Gordon Elliott saddles the favourite here in Squouateur @ 11/2 but i will be going for a big priced one in Hadrian’s Approach @ 18/1.