Wednesday was another bookies day unfortunately, but we managed to come out of it with a healthy profit so I’m very pleased with that. Tuesday’s losses were wiped out with a fair bit left over so hopefully we can add to that today. Modus placing at 16/1, Bless The Wings placing at 14/1, and Fayonagh (11/1) incredibly winning the Champion Bumper despite completely blowing the start were the money earners. Linger was gutting though. I put him up at 33/1 and he was backed all the way down to 6/1, before being struck into at the 2nd hurdle and he came back lame. Anyway, onto Day 3, and this really doesn’t look the easiest of days, but hopefully we can still come out ahead on the day. I was working late last night so I don’t have time to go into as much depth today as I usually do, but I’ll give it my best shot.
1.30 – JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) – 2m 3f 198y
There’s no doubting Yorkhill is the most talented horse in here. But he is a livewire. If he jumps round sound, I can’t see him beat, but that is a big if. The first fence in the JLT comes up very quickly and it could be lights out in a matter of seconds. I’ve backed him antepost at a decent price, but with him being so quirky and with Mullins hardly firing, I won’t be going near him at the current price. Instead, I’ll be backing Disko. Despite disappointing in the fog at Punchestown in November, he has then gone on to finish 3rd at Leopardstown over Christmas where he was just outstayed by Our Duke and Coney Island over 3 miles, before getting revenge on Our Duke over 2m 5f in the Flogas. That’s a serious piece of form, and there’s no doubt this is his trip. He’ll go from the front, and being an excellent jumper (probably shouldn’t have said that!), he’ll put some of the others under serious pressure as he’ll be going at some pace. He’s not short of speed and I have a feeling he may be very hard to peg back here.
Selection: Disko EW (6/1 BetVictor and Betfair, 1/5 odds 3 places)
2.10 – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race) – 2m 7f 213y
The first of 3 handicaps on the day, and I don’t really have a strong opinion on any of them. The stats didn’t really narrow it down to many, so I’ve just gone on my own opinions. I’ve gone for Rocklander here. He’s run really well since taking the step up to 3m, including here on New Years Day, but I don’t think he quite got home on the ground. Back to better ground here, I’m hoping for a good run for our money.
Selection: Rocklander EW (22/1 Bet365, 1/4 odds 5 places)
2.50 – Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) – 2m 4f 166y
This was a tough one to call to be perfectly honest, but I’m going to stick with Uxizandre, who I’ve had down for this since his return when 2nd to Un De Sceaux in the re-arranged Clarence House on Trials Day. That was his first run since winning this in 2015, which was incidentally AP McCoy’s last Cheltenham winner, and it came on ground he would’ve hated. With a mile to go, it was looking as if he may be tailed off, but he stayed on really well to only be beaten 5 lengths. Like I said, he hated the ground that day and on a return back to his best trip and on his favoured ground, I expect him to reverse that form with Un De Sceaux. There are doubts surrounding Un De Sceaux at this trip anyway, and he loves soft ground, which he certainly won’t be getting here. The biggest danger is Empire Of Dirt. Gigginstown are desperate to win the race they sponsor for the first time and he has a huge chance. I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him, but it’s Uxizandre for me.
Selection: Uxizandre (4/1 BetVictor, SkyBet and Bet365)
3.30 – Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m 7f 213y
This is the banker of the week for many, including myself. If Unowhatimeanharry gets beat here the bookies will be counting their cash in lorry loads. But I can’t see how he gets beat. I’ve tried to take him on every run this season, and have of course failed every time. He’s won 8/8 since joining Harry Fry, and just keeps on getting better and better. Whilst he’s never visually impressive, he gets the job done and never really looks like getting beat. He just doesn’t do a tap when he hits the front. He beat the 2nd fav here by 1 3/4 lengths last time conceding 8lb, and whilst Cole Harden will appreciate the better ground, I’ll be shocked if that form is turned on its head. A confident pick here in Unowhatimeanharry who is impossible to oppose.
Selection: Unowhatimeanharry (6/4 Betfair)
4.10 – Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) – 2m 4f 166y
Again, this another difficult handicap to solve. I’ve ended up with Bouvreuil for Paul Nicholls though, who I’ve backed on both previous starts this campaign, but the ground hasn’t been quite right for him as he loves it quick. He still ran well for a long way on both occasions, but the soft ground got the better of him eventually. He clearly likes it here having been 2nd at the Festival twice, and I’m hoping he can go one better today!
Selection: Bouvreuil EW (14/1 Paddy Power, 1/5 odds 5 places)
4.50 – Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) – 2m 179y
Now I tried to oppose the 2 Mullins mares here, but I just couldn’t find anything to take them on with. I don’t think La Bague Au Roi is quick enough, Forge Meadow was a long way behind Airlie Beach in the Royal Bond, Asthuria is the Mullins 3rd string, Barra has a fair bit to find on ratings and the form of that Deloitte doesn’t look great. If any of the others win then the bookies will have had it right off, not for the first time this week either. So I’ve ended up going for Let’s Dance, and hopefully Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh can finally get a winner on the board here. She’s the top rated in the race, has won all 4 starts this season, and whilst the step back to 2m isn’t ideal, she isn’t slow and should have too much class here. Airlie Beach comes with a very good chance too, but you’d like to think Ruby has chosen the right one this time.
Selection: Let’s Dance (7/4 BetVictor and Boylesports)
5.30 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase – 3m 2f
I’m getting repetitive here, but it’s another tough nut to crack. Now I don’t really like doing this in a race like this, but I’ve gone for the fav, Squouateur. Gordon Elliott is absolutely flying, he has the best amateur rider in the game onboard, he’s very well handicapped on his hurdles form and it looks like he’s been laid out for a pot like this all year. Jamie Codd has won this in 4 of the last 8 years, and teamed up with Elliott to win this last year with Empire of Dirt. They can repeat the trick with Squouateur.
Selection: Squouateur EW (11/2 Bet365, 1/4 odds 5 places)