Former Talksport presenter Charlie McCann previews Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival which includes the ever popular World Hurdle. Selections…
Day three of the Festival and Vautour will be a warm order for the opening JLT Novices’ Chase for Willie Mullins who took Cheltenham by storm on the opening day. Last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner has won two of his three chases so far this term but ran a stinker at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and is overlooked in favour of Noel Meade’s Apache Stronghold (1.30) who scored in Grade One company last month.
The selection has three lengths to find with Vautour on Punchestown running last spring, but that was over hurdles and at 5/1 with BetVictor I would be disappointed if he wasn’t in the first three. The Irish have won three of the four previous renewals of this contest and Ptit Zig looks the best of British although he did blot his copybook when coming down at Ascot last time.
The Pertemps Final is one of the big betting races of the week and there are any number of potential winners; my two against the field are Regal Encore and Sybarite (2.05) and the each way vote (five places at BetVictor) goes to the latter with Jamie Bargary taking off a valuable 7lbs. What the selection needs is a thorough test of stamina and Bygones Sovereign looks sure to take them along at a decent clip. If he is anywhere near the leaders coming into the final flight he will be staying on up the famous Cheltenham hill and 16/1 looks a fair each way shout.
The Ryanair Chase is the second Grade One of the day and in receipt of 7lbs from the boys I just favour the mare Ma Filleule (2.40) although I wouldn’t want too much overnight rain for the selection who finished runner up to Holywell at the Festival last year when, seemingly, outstayed over the extended 3 miles. This trip will suit and she can keep the prize on home soil.
There hasn’t been an Irish winner of the Ryanair Chase in the ten years of its running but the sponsor Michael O’Leary owns Don Cossack who is the 7/2 favourite and has won his last three starts in the manner of a progressive animal. He was still in with every chance when coming down in the RSA 12 months ago but Ma Filleule can reward each way support at 4/1 for Nicky Henderson.
AP McCoy has never ridden the winner of the World Hurdle and it would be ironic if the under-achieving At Fishers Cross, blinkererd for the first time, was able to right that wrong. The horse finished third in the corresponding race 12 months ago and is no forlorn hope despite his 25/1 odds.
Seventeen go to post and on today’s better ground I think Irish raider Monksland (3.20) is sure to run well having suggested he retains all his old ability when finishing in the frame in both starts returning from a two-year absence earlier in the season. Today’s better ground ought to suit and the race looks sure to be run at a decent pace which will suit; at 14/1 with BetVictor he can reward each way support.
I have backed Attaglance at 20/1 last week for the Festival Plate and he must have a good chance in another ultra-competitive handicap but the 33/1 at BetVictor for Aupcharlie (4.00) is too big when you consider how well the Henry de Bromhead horses ran on the opening day. The selection finished fourth in a competitive handicap at Punchestown last spring under top-weight on decent ground and if you go back far enough in the form book (third in the Festival Bumper) he must have a decent each way chance.
The finale is another hot handicap but if Gold Bullet (4.40) gets home over this 3m 2f trip he could well handicapped for Tom Taafe. The selection was considered a decent chasing prospect before having over 12 months off and he looked to be coming back to his best when third on ground softer
than ideal last time. He is 10/1 at BetVictor and it is perhaps significant that leading amateur Derek O’Connor rode him on his comeback at Limerick over Christmas. O’Connor keeps the mount and is another each way selection.