• Sun 25 Sep, 2022
  • 21:13 BST
  • 17:13 EST (BST-4)
  • 23:13 CEST (BST+2)

Cheltenham treble on Thursday

Paul Ferguson has three more selections on day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival; Footpad at 2.50, Paisley Park at 3.30 and Epatante at 4.50.

Things haven’t exactly gone to plan for last year’s Arkle winner this season, but Footpad (2:50) is fancied to return to form in the Ryanair Chase on Thursday.

He suffered an overreach when falling on reappearance and then shaped as though he might have just needed the run when touched off over Christmas. Ideally, it would have been nice to have seen him again in the interim, but we know Willie Mullins can get one ready at home and I remain convinced that he is a top-class chaser. Stepping up in trip could well bring about further improvement, given that he won a juvenile hurdle over 2m3½f, and he looks to possess more finishing speed than the opposition.

Emma Lavelle’s rapidly-improving Paisley Park (3:30) is taken to maintain his ascendancy to the top of the staying hurdle tree, by landing the feature on day three.

A dual-handicap winner earlier in the season, the seven-year-old then provided both Lavelle and jockey Aidan Coleman with their first Grade 1 success at Ascot, before running away

with the Cleeve Hurdle on trials day. He certainly looks the pick of the English-trained runners and his younger legs are fancied to take the notable scalp of former Champion Hurdle winner, Faugheen. Any significant rain would be a slight concern, but otherwise, Paisley Park appears a pretty solid market leader.

Thursday could be a good day for favourite backers and Epatante (4:50) looks the one to be with in the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Two from two for Nicky Henderson, she looked really exciting when winning an ordinary race at Kempton and followed up at Exeter recently. Quite keen in her races, she will wear a hood for the first time and, as long as she relaxes in the early part of the race, I think she could be hard to beat.

Again, really testing ground would be a slight concern, with the stiff finish over 2m1f and a proper staying type such as Posh Trish likely to bid to make all. However, the selection receives 5lbs from Paul Nicholls’ mare and, unless it is a bog, she should have too much finishing speed for her.

Thursday’s selections:
2:50 Cheltenham Festival – Footpad; 4/1 Bet365
3:30 Cheltenham Festival – Paisley Park; 15/8 paddy Power
4:50 Cheltenham Festival – Epatante; 2/1 Betfred

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