If the early stages have told you anything about this year’s Cheltenham Festival, it is that you need to pay attention to horses who are at home with some juice in the ground.
Yes, the ground is probably riding better than expected and horses seem to be getting through it, but if the forecast rain arrives, it could turn out to be pretty tough work.
Here’s a preview of day three at Prestbury Park.
JLT Novices’ Chase
Of the three Grade One novice chases at the Festival, this appears to the weakest, especially with the confirmation that Monalee runs in Wednesday’s RSA.
I would have been very keen on Henry De Bromhead’s runner had he turned up in this, but in his absence, the one of interest is Nicky Henderson’s Terrefort.
He comes into this in good form having won the Grade One Scilly Isles at Sandown last time. The form of that win was franked when the runner-up, Cyrname won a Grade Two at Kempton and I’m confident there is more to come.
He had plenty of solid form on soft ground in France before moving to the Henderson yard, which can only be a positive with the expected conditions. He looks solid value at around 9/2 with Grosvenorsport.com.
If there is any horse that would have been jumping for joy with the news of the testing ground it would have been Un De Sceaux.
When the going is soft or heavy, the Willie Mullins-trained ten-year-old is a serious force to be reckoned with. He has won 6 of his last 8 on bad ground and rates a very worthy favourite, especially if the rain that is forecast for Wednesday evening arrives.
He is even-money with Grosvenorsport.com, and even though I’m hesitant to tip him at such a skinny price, it’s hard to see anything mounting a serious challenge.
Cue Card is an admirable sort and his performance behind Waiting Patiently at Ascot showed the fire still very much burns bright. He definitely won’t go down without a fight, but the suspicion is that that run may well have taken a fair amount out of him.
He looked pretty tired when crossing the line that day and with the likes of Balko Des Flos wanting better ground, I have to side with Un De Sceaux to make it back-to-back wins in the race.
This is by far the most open of the four Championship races which makes it arguably the most interesting.
Sam Spinner is the 4/1 favourite.
He has every right to be based on his previous two performances; a seventeen-length demolition at Haydock in November followed by an impressive win in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December.
He will be certainly handle the testing conditions and is hard to keep out of the frame but I’m going to be siding with the Harry Fry-trained Unowhatimeanharry at 9/1 to beat him.
Fry’s runner disappointed when sent off a short-priced favourite for this last year but the reports suggested he wasn’t quite right that day.
He bounced back to form when wining the Grade One Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown the following month and if he is in that sort of form on Thursday, he is fantastic each-way value.
Noel Fehily, who has ridden him to three wins at Cheltenham, gets back on him and l fancy Unowhatimeanharry to avenge his defeat in the race 12 months ago.