Odds and Tips for Day Three at the Cheltenham Festival 2018

Odds and Tips for Day Three at the Cheltenham Festival 2018

Day three at the Cheltenham Festival looks set to be another cracker, with a further three Grade 1 races on offer for our punting pleasure. With strong support from high class handicapping action and novice contests, as well as one of the big races of the year for the amateur riders, this is another day at Prestbury Park that is not to be missed.

The Irish will surely be expecting to hit the scoreboard at least once – at the very least – on what looks a strong day for the raiders. If there is to be a wholesale Irish plunge on a runner on St Patrick’s Thursday, it seems most likely to come on the defending Champion in the Ryanair Chase, or the latest flying filly from the yard of Willie Mullins in the Mares’ Novices’ contest.

1:30 - JLT Novices’ Chase

The first trend to note here is that each of the seven winners of the race have been either six or seven years old. This suggests that the younger performers possibly aren’t quite ready for this challenge, whilst the older runners have a tendency to become outpaced by their more youthful rivals.

The second pattern to jump out is the outstanding record of Willie Mullins in the race. That’s perhaps no surprise given how well the Irishman does at Cheltenham overall, but four wins in seven years – including in each of the last three – is nevertheless a fine performance.

Of the Mullins entries, the one we like best is Invitation Only. This one went down narrowly to the smart Monalee last time out, only really giving best close home over 2m 5f. As such this slight drop in trip ought to suit and he looks a solid each way option at 10/1 with Ladbrokes.

2:10 - Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

This final of the Pertemps Handicap series had become something of a benefit for the British trainers in recent years, with the prize staying in the hands of the home team every year between 2007 and 2015. Irishman Patrick Kelly has however single-handedly halted that trend by winning each of the past two editions. Anything he sends across the Irish Sea will be worthy of close inspection.

With eight of the past 11 winners shouldering less that 11st to victory, concentrating on those lower in the handicap may also swing the odds in your favour.

Any selection can only really be tentative at this stage until the field is finalised, but we were greatly impressed with the display of Philip Hobbs’ Louis’ Vac Pouch when winning a qualifier for this race in November. He saw off the likes of Beer Goggles, Holly Bush Henry and Vyta Du Roc in good style that day at Aintree and has been kept fresh since. He will do for us each way at betting odds of 11/1 with Betfair.

2:50 - Ryanair Chase

It is interesting that Douvan looks like being stepped up from 2m to 2m4f for his impending comeback run. It would certainly put the cat amongst the ante-post pigeons should the “aeroplane” be aimed here rather than at the Champion Chase. That is only a possibility at this stage however, and he does still have his current wellbeing to prove.

Mullins does already have a strong string to his bow in the form of the current favourite for the race – and defending champion – Un De Sceaux. There really is little left to be said about this prolific superstar. Eight times a winner in Grade 1 chase contests, he warmed up for this with a seven-length romp in the Clarence House Chase and will likely take some stopping. On the downside, he is 10 years old now, and nine of the past 11 winners have been aged nine or younger.

Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently may well be the one to be on here. Unbeaten in five over fences to date, counting Politologue amongst his victims, he was seriously impressive at Kempton last time out and looks a horse firmly on the up. With his former trainer Malcolm Jefferson having sadly passed away recently, he would be a hugely popular winner at 8/1 with BetVictor.

3:30 - Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle

Jessica Harrington enjoyed a fine Cheltenham Festival last year and looks to have a number of strong contenders once again in 2018. Strongest of all perhaps is the current favourite for this Championship contest, Supasundae. His close second to Apple’s Jade two starts back was an excellent effort, as was his win in the Irish Champion Hurdle over two miles last time out. Talented and versatile, the 2017 Coral Cup winner looks set to go well, although he is nought from two at this trip.

Sam Spinner looks a potent threat for the home team, but at the prices the one we like is Alan King’s, Yanworth. This one has maybe not quite delivered on the immense potential he showed in his novice days, but is still only eight years old and demonstrated his staying prowess when mastering Supasundae in the Liverpool Hurdle last term. At around three times the price of Supasundae, he gets the nod each way at 10/1 with BetVictor.

4:10 - Stable Plate Handicap Chase

Previous Cheltenham Festival form is never to be sniffed at in any of the week’s contests. We think the market may well have this right in making last year’s Close Brother’s Novices’ Handicap Chase winner Tully East the current favourite for the race. His effort in mastering Nicky Henderson’s Gold Present in that contest looks all the better now given the exploits of that runner this year.

A solid third over a trip too short, and on ground too soft, at Leopardstown last time, he looks to be coming to hand nicely for this. Take the betting odds of 10/1 with Betfair.

4:50 - Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Just the two editions of this contest have been run to date, with each being won in impressive style by a short-priced Willie Mullins favourite. Will Laurina follow in the hoof-prints of Limini and Let’s Dance and make it three out of three for the Irish Champion Trainer this year?

Two bloodless victories since making the switch from France, including in a Grade 3 last time out, see her trading as the 5/4 favourite here. Alletrix, who was beaten out of sight by this daughter of Spanish Moon in that Grade 3, was good enough to run right away with a handicap at the Leopardstown Festival on her next start, lending a solid look to the form. The tough as teak Maria’s Benefit certainly won’t go down without a fight, but it’s the jolly for us here.

5:30 - Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase

Sticking with those to have shown previous solid form at this meeting, the one who stands out at this stage is the Patrick Kelly runner, Mall Dini. Winner of the Pertemps Network Final in 2016, he was a little unlucky – being hampered at a crucial stage – when third in this contest behind Domesday Book last year.

The eight year old son of Milan hasn’t shown a great deal so far this season, but his effort when fifth in a Grade 3 last time out was a bit more like it and we suspect all roads lead to this for his excellent target trainer. At 12/1 with BetVictor, he makes plenty of each way appeal.