Cheltenham 2017 Day 3 Preview
Day 2 at the festival is always tough for punters, and it doesn’t get much easier on Day 3. The form of Willie Mullins’ horses has to be a huge worry for his supporters, and Douvan was desperately disappointing on Wednesday. He has plenty of fancied horses again on Thursday, including the favourite in the JLT Chase.
JLT Novices’ Chase
Yorkhill is a fairly short price for this contest, and it is hard to disagree with those who are keen on him. He has won eight of his nine starts under rules, including an impressive win in the Neptune here last year. He has jumped slightly left at times on his first two chase starts, so he should be suited by going left-handed at Cheltenham. Good ground holds no fears and he could be hard to beat.
Seeing as Willie Mullins isn’t having much luck so far, it might be worth having a saver on one at a bigger price. Politologue flopped here last year, and that doesn’t bode well for his chances in this. Flying Angel is an interesting runner for Nigel Twiston Davies, and he rates this horse highly. He ran a cracker to be second in the Martin Pipe last year so he handles the track, and he won well on unsuitably heavy ground last time. He could run into a place at tasty odds.
Stevos’ Selections: Yorkhill 11/8 Ladbrokes. Flying Angel e/w @ 20/1 Paddy Power.
Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle
This looks an extra competitive renewal this year, with just 10lb between the top and bottom weights. I would love to see Tobefair win this for his small stable, but I fear the handicapper may now have his measure. At a price, perhaps Barney Dwan can hit the frame for Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan.
This 7yo son of Vinnie Roe has been running on soft ground, but connections are convinced he wants it better. He will get his preferred ground for the first time since he was runner-up on his seasonal comeback. He was running a big race off 138 when unseating at Warwick on his penultimate start, and off just 5lb higher he could make his presence felt on the drying ground.
Stevos’ Selection: Barney Dwan e/w @ 20/1 Bet365
Un De Sceaux is the current market leader, but the drying ground is a massive worry for him. He is undoubtedly a talented horse, but he is best when there is juice in the ground and he is up against some classy types on Thursday. Both he and Uxizandre like to get on with things out in front, and that could play into the hands of Bryan Cooper and Empire Of Dirt.
He will be held up off what looks sure to be a strong pace, just as he was in the 21f handicap he won here last year. He will love the drying ground and he hails from a yard that fired in a hat trick on Tuesday. Gordon Elliott wanted to run him in the Gold Cup, which shows how high a regard he holds this horse in, and I think he will win this and win it well.
Stevos’ Selection: Empire Of Dirt @ 10/3 William Hill NAP
Last year’s Albert Bartlett winner Unowhatimeanharry is a warm order for this one, and he has won all three starts this season. However, Cole Harden got to within 2L of him on soft here last time, and on good ground he could easily reverse that form. Cole Harden himself was well beaten in this race last season, and I think Zarkandar could represent a bit of each way value at a big price.
This evergreen 10yo has been a frustrating horse to follow at times, but there is no disputing his ability. He was 4th behind More Of That in this race in 2014, and he was 3rd behind Cole Harden in 2015 when a shuddering mistake two out cost him dearly. He looked back to his very best when winning last time. If he is in the same form on Thursday, he could spring a surprise in an open looking race.
Stevos’ Selection: Zarkandar e/w @ 25/1 Bet365
Brown Advisory Handicap Chase
Another typically competitive festival handicap, and a race in which no winner has carried more than 11 stone since Mister McGoldrick in 2008. I like the look of one right down the bottom, and Katachenko could produce a big run off his last winning mark of 133. I was sweet on this fella for whatever race he got into here last season, but unfortunately he didn’t make the cut.
He gained compensation in a good handicap at Aintree, and he will appreciate the drying ground at Cheltenham. His first three runs this season were poor, but he definitely showed a bit more last time at Catterick on unsuitable ground over too far a trip. The drop back to 20f is ideal, his trainer is having a decent season and Will Kennedy is a talented jockey. If he runs to form he could hit the frame at massive odds.
Stevos’ Selection: Katachenko e/w @ 40/1 Ladbrokes
Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
Willie Mullins has the top two in the market with Let’s Dance and Airlie Beach, and he also runs Asthuria. However, given his results so far this week you would have to worry about the condition of his horses. Paul Nicholls has been very sweet on his mare Coillte Lass in the build up, and she looks a big price at odds of 28/1.
She won her Listed Hurdle at Taunton with the minimum of fuss, and she ran with credit behind Vroum Vroum Mag in a Grade 2 last time. With an official rating of 140 she is the fourth highest rated mare in the race, and she is rated just 7lb inferior to the 7/4 favourite. She hasn’t got a huge amount to find to hit the frame, and she is the each way suggestion.
Stevos’ Selection: Coillte Lass e/w @ 28/1 Bet365
Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase
Tom George had another decent day on Wednesday with Sir Valentino running a cracker in the Champion Chase. He has a very interesting contender for this race in Whats Happening, a 10yo son of Lahib who returned from a long spell on the sidelines with a superb effort on unsuitably soft ground at Exeter last time off 137, beaten just 5L.
His previous two runs came around here, and they both resulted in victory. He beat Velator by 8L over 28f (good) off 127, and he followed that up with a 2L win from Perfect Candidate over 25f (good) off a mark of 136. He is proven at the track, he showed that some ability still remains last time and off just a pound higher than for his last win he could outrun his generous odds.
Stevos’ Selection: Whats Happening e/w @ 20/1 Boylesports NB