Paul Ferguson has three selections from Cheltenham for us on Thursday; Valseur Lido , Johns Spirit and Monetaire .
Thursday gets underway with a high-class renewal of the JLT Novices’ Chase, in which Willie Mullins holds a very strong hand.
Last year’s Supreme Novices’ winner Vautour was impressive on his chase debut, but it hasn’t been plain sailing since and, while he would take plenty of beating if in the same form as he was here 12 months ago, I would rather back his stable-mate Valseur Lido (1:30) each-way, under Bryan Cooper.
A hugely impressive winner of the Drinmore in November, he was having his first start since then when Apache Stronghold reversed form at Leopardstown recently and he can be expected to have come on for that.
Another with sound each-way claims is Johns Spirit (2:40) in an open-looking renewal of the Ryanair Chase.
Jonjo O’Neill’s eight-year-old shaped well for a long way in the King George (when the yard was struggling) and he will appreciate the drop back in trip on his favourite track.
Three times a winner of valuable handicaps here, the son of Gold Well looks capable of stepping up in class and going well at double-figure odds. In the same race, don’t be surprised to see Eduard out run his price, also.
Monetaire (4:00) ran an extraordinary race to finish third at the track on his British debut, making a serious mistake at the first fence, yet still finished third having challenged turning for home.
David Pipe’s nine-year-old defied a 3lb rise to beat the useful Solar Impulse at Newbury and, though he has gone up a further 12lbs, he is fancied to land the Festival Plate – he runs here instead of in tomorrow’s Grand Annual.
This is a very strong race, however, and both Buywise and Un Ace are hugely respected – a saver on either maybe the way to go.
The former needs to brush up his jumping but can land a valuable prize when it clicks, while the latter is a very smart novice and he shaped well here back in December, when he chased home Champagne West.
1:30 Cheltenham Festival: Valseur Lido; 11/2 William Hill
2:40 Cheltenham Festival: Johns Spirit; 10/1 Paddy Power
4:00 Cheltenham Festival: Monetaire; 7/1 bet365
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