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Richard Hoiles: My 4 best bets for day three at Cheltenham

13 Mar | BY Richard Hoiles | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Hoiles: My 4 best bets for day three at Cheltenham

The racing broadcaster offers his selections from Thursday at Cheltenham, including each-way shouts in the Pertemps and Ryanair.

The Mullins bandwagon rolls at the halfway stage, having achieved a remarkable 100 Festival winners despite El Fabiolo’s mistake saving the bookmakers’ fortunes.

Dan Skelton landed a double with horses they had spent all season getting down to competitive marks, while the pain continued for Nicky Henderson, as the big drift on Stay Away Fay also saw a woeful run in the Brown Advisory, after which he scoped dirty.

On to day three.

13:30 TURNERS NOVICES’ CHASE

This looks a shallow renewal and a race in which to take on the front of the market. Granted, Ginny’s Destiny’s jumping is an asset but personally I struggle to get excited about his form lines, with Grey Dawning likely to have beaten him but for an error at the second-last here in December and then having the race set up perfectly by Apple Away, which was well beaten on Tuesday at Warwick.

The harder question is who to row in, with Irish pair Facile Vega and Zanahyir top of the list. Facile Vega’s two previous Festival runs were winning the bumper in 2022 and then finishing second to Marine Nationale in the Supreme. He has slightly disappointed over fences but is unexposed over a trip he looked likely to stay as a younger horse. Zanahyir has never looked a natural jumper, whether it be over hurdles or fences, but that didn’t stop him placing in two Champion Hurdles, including behind Constitution Hill and State Man last year. Both handle heavy ground and are preferred to the home challenge.

14:10 PERTEMPS NETWORK FINAL

No hesitation here in going with MILL GREEN / (e/w) who is one of my favourite horses in recent Festivals. He has an excellent record in big-field handicaps and even though he is 12 now he showed enough at Exeter last time to suggest he has plenty left to give. The form of the stable is obviously a worry and he has quite an inexperienced rider at this level in Freddie Gordon, but he has finished third in the last two runnings of this at 33/1 and 22/1, and also placed in the same 3m handicap at Aintree next time at 14/1 and 18/1. He booked his spot in one of the last qualifiers after a couple of runs over fences and cannot be deserted now. Springwell Bay is a horse I have a lot of time for but he just seems to struggle to see out the trip and I would have preferred to see him line up in the Coral Cup.

14:50 RYANAIR CHASE

Another race where I am happy to avoid the front of the market with HITMAN / (e/w) looking overpriced. Third last year to Envoi Allen and Shishkin, he failed to stay last time when upped in trip in the Denman, where he looked to handle the heavy ground well. His low strike rate means it has to be on an each-way basis but this renewal looks no better than last year’s, especially with the ground looking to go against Banbridge. If Protektorat is held up he would be a danger but they seem intent on always riding him forward and may do the same again down in trip, while last year’s winner Envoi Allen has to be respected given his Festival record – he is the only horse to have won Grade 1s over fences, hurdles and on the level in the bumper

15:30 STAYERS HURDLE

This is a division that had looked open but the rain arriving gives TEAHUPOO / a chance to show he is a cut above of an aging field. The division has produced several exciting finishes this season, most of them involving Paisley Park, but with no clear standout performer.

Teahupoo was third last year after being impeded by Dashel Drasher and has an excellent record both on heavy ground and also fresh, so the fact he has not run since his second Hatton’s Grace victory in December is a plus (he ran in the Galmoy in January last season). He should take a lot of beating.

Crambo is the other improver but he only just saw off Paisley Park last time which means he would require another step forward in order to provide Fergal O’Brien with a long overdue first Festival winner.

16:10 PLATE HANDICAP CHASE

A bit like the Boodles on Day 1, a race I could look at all day and still be none the wiser. If you do want to get involved, Glengouly’s proven ability on the ground and accurate jumping could make him of interest. Although I don’t particularly like Ginny’s Destiny’s win for the Grade 1 Turners, it is rather different for a handicapper off 137 so if that form does stand up earlier on in the day it improves the chances of Theatre Man, who was well backed last week and has proved consistent without yet getting his head in front over fences.

16:50 MARES NOVICES HURDLE

This is the strongest ever renewal of this race and features one of the big talking horses of the week in Gordon Elliott’s Brighterdaysahead. Unbeaten in five career starts, she has progressed with every run and had no problem handling heavy ground last time. Talked up as one of the Irish bankers of the week at nearly every Festival preview, she has a tall reputation to live up to.

If Fergal O’Brien doesn’t land his first Festival winner with Crambo in the Stayers he has another chance here with Dysart Enos, who also comes here with an unbeaten record. She achieved a higher level of form in bumpers, winning a Grade 2 race at Aintree which threw up no less than eight next-time-out winners. Her hurdling campaign has been kept deliberately low key in order to avoid the 5lb penalties that her Irish rivals have to shoulder, which could prove inspired. Second to her at Aintree was Golden Ace, who has made a really positive impression in her two hurdling runs at Taunton. It is a fascinating race. If Brighterdaysahead’s reputation is justified she will win, but this is a race that could further bolster the Mares ranks for next season with Lossiemouth set to desert the division for a Champion Hurdle bid in 12 months’ time. 

17:30 KIM MUIR HANDICAP CHASE

Class could tell here with INOTHEWAYURTHINKIN / just getting into this off the ceiling mark of 145. With the booking of the best amateur rider in Derek O’Connor (7/27 for stable, A/E 1.58) couple with his ability to handle heavy ground, he clearly looks the one to beat. His trainer Gavin Cromwell has had great success at the track this season (7/19 prior to this week) and he looks to have been laid out for this. One of the best looking bets on the card.

Visit Betway’s Cheltenham Festival betting page.

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Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.