Action from yesterday's Cheltenham Festival
Wednesday was high-octane and produced some major highlights. Sadly, we’ll be deprived of Ruby Walsh for the remainder of the Festival, and Douvan’s premature exit meant that we never truly got to see the two best 2-mile chasers on the planet go at it.
However, the show must go on, and here are your Day Three selections:
JLT Novices’ Chase: Invitation Only (11/4)
There’s a touch of the Lonely Hearts Club about this event every year. They’re not quick enough for the Arkle, nor are they sturdy enough for the RSA. Invitation Only is already a better chaser than he was a hurdler and with someone like handicap graduate Terrefort rated as the main threat, I think we’re safe enough siding with the class horse in the race.
Pertemps Final: Louis Vas Pouch E/W (8/1)
This runner’s trainer Philip Hobbs put him up as his best bet of the Festival. He looks well-in off his mark of 145.
Ryanair Chase: Un De Sceaux (8/11)
I’d love to offer an alternative, but soft ground is this boy’s forte and nothing should come near him on it. He’s truly the forgotten Mullins horse in many ways, because the Ryanair division is so utterly forgettable that nobody ever mentions him among Willie’s best horses. They should.
Stayers’ Hurdle: Sam Spinner (7/2)
There isn’t a gutsier horse than this fella. The Long Walk Hurdle is always a good measuring stick for Thursday’s feature and despite clattering a hurdle, he went further clear on the run-in, again. He has staying power to burn and given how soft the ground is, he’ll need it. This race is usually somewhat of a letdown, but it’s a strong field this year.
The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate: Guitar Pete E/W (22/1)
Guitar Pete’s racing career has been somewhat blotted by the fact that nobody knows exactly what he is. He looks a decent chaser, he ran off tiny marks on the flat and didn’t produce – he seemed average over small obstacles – but he’s never consistently settled with one discipline. He was going well before his fall last time out, so a chance is taken off this mark.
Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle: Laurina (4/7)
It’s not exciting, but she’s probably Willie Mullins’ banker of the week in what looks a weak renewal. Without the inclusion of the potentially smart Stormy Ireland, the focus is likely placed on the relatively unknown Salsaretta to provide opposition. She’d have to be very good to beat this filly.
The Kim Muir: Pendra E/W (14/1)
Ah, the apple of JP McManus’ eye. Pendra ran in this same race last year, off the same mark – so, in theory, he sets the standard, but that’s not the full story. He hasn’t been seen since that race, but should he prove race-fit, the price seems awfully big for a runner who’s guaranteed to stay, and who’ll act on the ground. Had a fence down the straight not been omitted last year, he was the likely winner.