Cheltenham Festival | Ante-post day three and four | Preview and Odds

We continue our antepost guide to next week’s Cheltenham Festival with a look at the main action on day three and four of the Festival, which includes the biggest race of them all – the Gold Cup.

Missed out on reading the views of our horse racing expert on day one and two? Read it all here.

Day Three – Stayers’ Hurdle

The highlight of day three is the Stayers’ Hurdle and in terms of a betting proposition, it’s hugely exciting. The line-up is headed by Paisley Park at 6/4, who has been hugely impressive this season, winning all four of his races, including giving trainer Emma Lavelle and jockey Aidan Coleman their first Grade 1 in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

He hacked up at Cheltenham on his last start in Cleeve Hurdle and he fits the profile for an ideal staying hurdler, so it’s not hard to see why he’s the favourite. A repeat of that Cheltenham run would undoubtedly see him go close, but this is the best is the best opposition he will have ever faced and I have my reservations.

Faugheen is a shocking price at 4/1. He ran terribly in the Morgiana Hurdle on his seasonal reappearance and then fell when behind Apple’s Jade last time at Leopardstown. Many would say he would have got close to the mare that day and maybe he would have, but he’s very skinny on what he’s done this season. The racing public would love him to win and maybe he will, but at that price I’m happy to pass him over.

Instead, I’m going to take a chance on BLACK OP for Tom George at 10/1. Having been a very good novice hurdler, he was tried over fences this season, but things simply didn’t go to plan and he’s been re-routed to hurdles since. I took much encouragement from his run in the Cleeve where he ran really well and turning in, I actually thought he might win! Noel Fehily has been very complementary since about his chances in this race and based on his novice hurdle form, I think he’s a pretty big price.

Day Three – Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase

Later on the card, I like the chances of JANIKA in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase.

Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old has only had two starts in England, but I’ve been very impressed with both. Particularly at Cheltenham last time, when he was just touched off by Siruh Du Lac. He was giving his rival over a stone that day and based on his runs in France, the forecast rain will also be a bonus. I think he’s really solid and Daryl Jacob thinks he’s one of his best chances of the week.

He’s been backed in recent days, so take the 8/1 on offer because I’d imagine he’ll go off shorter.

Day Four – Triumph Hurdle

Friday kicks off with the Triumph Hurdle and I’ll make this short and sweet. SIR EREC wins this and wins it well. He has the potential to be very special and at even-money, fill your boots!

Day Four – Gold Cup

The weirdest prep for the Cheltenham Festival goes to Presenting Percy, who bids to become the first horse since 1929 to win the Gold Cup without a prep race over fences. His RSA Chase win at last year’s Festival clearly shows how good a horse he is, but at 3/1, I have to look elsewhere. Clan Des Obeaux has been very impressive in his last two starts – the King George and at Ascot, but his form at Cheltenham is a worry so I’m against him too.

The one I like is KEMBOY for Willie Mullins. I was all over him for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, but the Mullins camp met travel problems and he couldn’t travel over. He won well at Clonmel on his seasonal appearance, but it was his win in the Grade 1 Savills Chase which really caught the eye. He absolutely hammered a top-quality field by seven lengths and the second Monalee has come out and won since.

You have to be slightly concerned about the trip, but at 9/1, I think there is room to take that chance. He’s only seven and there is so much room for improvement and I just think he might be one that quite hasn’t got the credit he deserves.

We are Non Runner No Bet on all 28 Cheltenham Festival races. Head here for all the latest markets.




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