CHELTENHAM – DAY THREE
A win for Faugheen would bring the house down and he’s got every chance after three good successes since going chasing this season.
He made mistakes like many novices at Leopardstown and should be right in the mix given his strong hurdles form at the Festival.
But ITCHY FEET will take plenty of beating after an impressive success in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown last month. He jumped well and powered up the hill with plenty left in the tank.
His third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle bodes well for the track and he already looks top class.
Mister Fisher was behind the tip in the Supreme but has a Cheltenham win over fences to his name and stepped up in class to score at Doncaster last time. He showed decent pace there and this longer trip holds no fears.
You can’t rule out Samcro who has had a breathing operation since being turned over when odds-on at Limerick on Boxing Day. He hasn’t been seen since then but he has winning Festival form from the 2018 Ballymore Hurdle and could hit the frame.
Melon has been second three times over hurdles at the meeting and showed some promise as a chaser before a poor Grade 1 run at Leopardstown. That leaves him with something to prove now.
|3. Itchy Feet|
J: G SheehanT: Olly Murphy
Cheltenham – Mar 12th 15:30
A GREAT VIEW has a solid each-way chance in a typically open Pertemps Final. He should have finished closer than sixth in this race 12 months ago when making a late blunder after travelling well.
His season has been framed around today and he tuned up with a good third at Punchestown that should see him spot on.
Last year’s winner Sire Du Berlais won’t be far away after finishing full of running when fourth at Warwick latest. He’s a fair 7lb higher than when taking this which puts him in the picture.
Relegate was a 25-1 winner of the Champion Bumper in 2018 and has had a pretty quiet time over hurdles.
She was an eye-catching fourth on her debut for current connections just behind A Great View and looks well handicapped near the bottom of the weights.
Welsh Saint won well on handicap debut at Haydock when staying this trip really nicely. If the ground remains testing he would have a big say because he loves the mud and is up only 4lb.
The Storyteller has plenty of fans after sneaking into this race by finishing sixth at Leopardstown in December. He’s been kept for this race since to preserve his mark and this trip is ideal. He should be right in the shake-up.
|6. A Great View|
J: M P WalshT: D Cullen
Cheltenham – Mar 12th 16:10
A PLUS TARD can fly away with the Ryanair. We haven’t seen him since Christmas when he landed a fantastic victory at the expense of Chacun Pour Soi.
He loved the cut in the ground and scored by almost four lengths. This trip should be ideal given the way he won the Close Brothers at last year’s Festival by no fewer than 16 lengths. You don’t see that in Festival handicaps and he can prove it was no fluke.
Defending champion Frodon will run his usual honest race from out in front. His excellent jumping is a massive asset at the track and he put in his best effort since that win when scoring well at Kempton latest. You know what you’re getting from him and he can reward place punters.
Min has couple of Festival seconds to his name but was put in his place in the Dublin Chase last time. He steps up to a more suitable distance today but prefers a flatter track and has something to find with A Plus Tard.
That said, only Altior has beaten him in the past two years so he’s no mug.
Riders Onthe Storm has really improved since hitting the deck in the Close Brothers last season. He landed a Grade 1 win at Ascot last time but it’s a concern that all of his chase wins have come on much flatter tracks so Aintree may suit better.
|1. A Plus Tard|
J: Rachael BlackmoreT: H de Bromhead
Cheltenham – Mar 12th 16:50
IT should be a walk in the PAISLEY PARK for Emma Lavelle and Aidan Coleman. He is unbeaten in a run of seven races which includes a convincing victory in this contest 12 months ago.
Connections have wisely kept his campaign light this season with an easy comeback win at Newbury in November followed by another convincing success over course and distance in January.
He hasn’t had to get serious in any of those races and will be hard to beat given that all ground comes the same to him.
Summerville Boy chased Paisley Park home in the Cleeve Hurdle here in January without ever looking like reeling him in.
He landed a good win here earlier that month over shorter but he should have no issues getting up the hill. The winner may have gone but he should hit the places.
Penhill won this two years ago and we haven’t seen a lot of him since. He has been on the podium in some smart races in Ireland including when third in the Grade 2 Boyne at Navan last month. That was a solid run and this longer trip will bring out the best in him.
Emitom deserves his place in the line-up after winning the Rendlesham at Haydock last time. He relished the heavy ground there and just keeps galloping on. There’s a fair gap from that race to this but it would be no surprise to see him in the places.
|8. Paisley Park|
J: Aidan ColemanT: Miss E C Lavelle
Cheltenham – Mar 12th 17:30
SPIRITOFTHEGAMES was third in this race 12 months ago and looks a solid choice again.
He has put in two good efforts here with close-up seconds in two of the big Grade 3 handicaps earlier in the season. Despite that he’s only 2lb higher than last year and some give in the ground is ideal.
Simply The Betts has been hiked 9lb for winning here in January but he showed great heart to regain the lead after being headed and that fighting spirit will be a real asset today.
Oldgrangewood won a hot handicap here on New Year’s Day in a head-bobber when his excellent jumping was a big factor. He’s crept up the weights again but looks rock solid.
We have only seen last year’s winner Siruh Du Lac once since her finest hour and she looked in need of the run when pulled up in the BetVictor Gold Cup in November. He will have been trained to the minute for this and it would be no surprise to see him go close again.
La Bague Au Roi has her sights lowered a little after a fair effort behind Delta Work in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
She has put in a couple of modest Festival efforts over hurdles but she has plenty of decent chase form even if much of it has come on flatter tracks like Kempton and Newbury.
J: Bridget AndrewsT: D Skelton
Cheltenham – Mar 12th 18:10
CONCERTISTA was second in this race 12 months ago on her debut for Willie Mullins after coming across from France. She has had three outings since with the pick being a good third on her handicap debut at Leopardstown last month.
She clearly likes a big field as there were 26 rivals that day and she’ll cope with this challenge again.
Minella Melody is unbeaten in three outings over timber and has improved each time. She had plenty in hand when beating Colreevy in a Fairyhouse Grade 3 last time.
It should be a good battle between them again with the latter getting 5lb today which could bring them a little closer together.
Floressa was unlucky when third to Lady Buttons in a decent race at Doncaster last time. She was carried right and almost knocked over so did well to get back in the frame. The guaranteed pace on here will help and she has more to offer for Nicky Henderson.
Dolcita has had just two runs over timber and got within three lengths of Minella Melody at Fairyhouse. She is better off at the weights today and should be capable of better although this needs a fair step forward.
J: D A JacobT: W P Mullins
Cheltenham – Mar 12th 18:50
LE BREUIL won the war of attrition that was the National Hunt Chase last year and can follow up in this other great contest for amateur riders.
His form is solid and he looks on a fair mark which is down from his fair fifth in the Warwick Classic last time. He has another major asset in the shape of Jamie Codd in the saddle. He has an excellent record in this race and was on board at last season’s Festival.
Deise Aba took a giant stride when winning a hot handicap chase at Sandown last month. He has no issues seeing out three miles there and this extra quarter-mile holds no fears.
Derek O’Connor is another rider to look out for in these races and his Champagne Platinum is dropping down from a solid third in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown last time. He takes a big step up in distance which could bring out the best in him.
JP McManus also runs Fitzhenry who has a top pilot in Patrick Mullins. He was hampered when still going well in a red-hot race at Leopardstown latest. The form book says he was 13th but he was much better than that.
|2. Le Breuil|
J: Mr J J CoddT: B Pauling
Cheltenham – Mar 12th 19:30
1.30 Itchy Feet (nb)
2.10 A Great View
2.50 A PLUS TARD (NAP)
3.30 Paisley Park
5.30 Le Breuil (treble)