Cheltenham Festival: day three
Big prices for Thursday
Wednesday was another day of upsets, none more so that Douvan’s shock defeat in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Despite going off at a price that suggested winning was a mere formality, Mullins’ super-star finished down in seventh.
Punters will be hoping things are a little less complicated on Thursday, but if we have learned anything from the two days previous it is that it doesn’t pay to take those short prices. So, with that in mind, we’ve gone for a couple at bigger odds that will hopefully boost our balance in time for the weekend.
We get up and running by taking on a short-priced favourite in Yorkhill, but won’t be straying too far down the pecking order for our selection. Top Notch is given a chance for Nicky Henderson, and the way things have been going so far gives me real confidence of bagging an upset. The yard is buzzing going into Thursday and have a genuine chance here. Top Notch’s jumping has been sound so far and he was last seen winning the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown by a comfortable margin. Coral go 7/2 at present.
Another at a decent offer in the market, with Impulsive Star taken to score off a handy 9/1. Neil Mulholland’s rep has caught my eye a few times in recent efforts and has done nothing but get better with the passing of every race. He goes into this with a CV reading four wins from five starts, including one at Cheltenham, and he looks more than capable of taking the step up today against a competitive field. If they go from the start, he’ll happily go with them.
Third-favourite at the time of asking, there’s plenty to like about Uxizandre for Alan King. He returned from a lengthy break to finish as runner-up in the grade one Clarence House Chase around here earlier this year, but that was a gutsy performance, beaten only by odds-on favourite Un De Sceaux. That comeback would’ve blasted away the rust and got the confidence back up. I expect him to shape all the better for it. Let’s improve a place.
UnowhatImeanharry is the winner of this race for me, and in style too. The naturally gifted eight-year-old gelding, out of Harry Fry’s crop, hasn’t put a foot wrong since pulling up at Sandown a couple of years ago. Since then he has become a real punters’ pal, winning each of his last eight, including four at Cheltenham. He claimed the Albert Bartlett last year and it’s really difficult not to like this guy. We’re 11/8 just now, and that looks fair.
Brown Advisory Plate
David Pipe and Tom Scudamore join forces on Starchitect, and I think that will be a winning combination. The two-miles four-furlongs should play to his advantages and the manner in which he won last time out at Ayr in a Novices’ Chase suggests he will go into this test willing and able. The selection boasts festival experience, and looks to have been overpriced at 7/1. Should outrun those odds, at least.
Mares Novices Hurdle
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh team-up, and that is always a popular combination with punters, no questions asked, but I do believe Let’s Dance has the tools to go and do something here. The five-year-old goes into the contest with the most impressive CV of the lot, showing victory in each of her last three goes, including at Leopardstown last time when justifying favouritism. The trip shouldn’t be a problem and she’s expected to drag a few of these out of their comfort zone from the start. 6/4 worthy fav in my eyes.
Kim Muir Chase
We’re hoping to bring the curtain down on Thursday with a trip to the winner’s enclosure, and the one expected to do us a turn here, at a nice price, is Another Hero, currently 12/1 with Coral. Team O’Neill have high hopes for this experienced sort, and he has been battling away against tough opposition recently. Placed in a good race at Doncaster last time – will go plenty close again.