With the sad inevitability of the unsinkable ship travelling at speed and an enormous stationary iceberg, I suspect my Cheltenham maybe gashed below the waterline. I tried to enthuse about Tiger Roll’s victory and Cheltenham five-timer, honestly. I was thrilled for Ms Blackmore, who isn’t a female but is a jockey. (Broadcaster please note). I was especially teeth-grindingly pleasant to a chum who had picked the 33/1 winner and rang to ask me how my day had gone. He did the same the day before, when he’d backed the 80/1 winner. OK, we had a couple of winners and we had some decently priced places, but still and all we haven’t had the biggie. The “I Told You So” moment when the Ante-Post computerised ticket is the most valuable piece of electronic code next to a pocketful of bitcoins. Sadly of course, it is almost impossible not to watch Cheltenham without a few prawns, a slice of Gammon perhaps, some French bread and inevitably a little wine. It’s nothing heavy, but probably best if you try to remember that you haven’t really drunk for a year and that a magnum is best shared.
Courage, mon brave. I hear you cry. There are two more days and dear old Beau Geste would not have given up. As he said as he marched on with Le Legion Etrangere; “It is miserable when one’s abhorrent body falls underneath the standard set by the trying soul, when the quality of the muscles is lacking to the mental fortitude of the heart…” Always good for a fortifying laugh was Beau Geste.
Talking of falling underneath the standards set by others, here are the tips for Day 3
13:20 The Marsh Novices’ Chase (G1) 2m abt 4f
A capital P and a big rating tell me that Timeform thinks ENVOI ALLEN is unbeatable. The bookmakers think the same. The Official Ratings say he’s 12lbs better than his nearest rival SHAN BLUE, who he beat by 27 lengths in the Ballymore last year. The best bet is to find the 2nd and I think that might be FUSIL RAFFLES, who beat CHANTRY HOUSE back in December. I have a sneaking regard for BLACKBOW with eight runners.
ENVOI ALLEN to beat FUSIL RAFFLES 1pt – FUSIL RAFFLES e/w
13:55 The Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Listed) Abt 3m
A big price winner lurks here possibly, and I think he’s a hidden Irish horse, ANYTHING WILL DO. To get into this race, you need to have been placed 6th or better at one of several qualifiers. The Leopardstown qualifier has been a good guide for Irish runners in this, and his 5th place in that and then a decent run, again 5th in The Dublin Racing Festival, all conspire to make me think this has been the target all along. He’s running off his Irish rating, which is 5lb lower than his mark here last year. I might also have a dig at KEEPER HILL and REDFORD ROAD, who are less than 3lbs shy of their last winning marks, will handle the drying ground and have some decent speed ratings. Lots of support for Nicky’s CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM, but he can be clumsy.
ANYTHING WILL DO e/w – KEEPER HILL e/w – REDFORD ROAD e/w
14:30 The Ryanair Chase (G1) 2m abt 5f
With Saint Calvados out because of the increasingly fast ground (bad luck Harry ), the principal market focus is on the three Mullins horses, MIN – MELON and ALLAHO, who sound like a firm of Hawaiian Estate Agents. The small Timeform p for potential improver resides with ALLAHO ridden by Rachel Blackmore, and who would deny the horse has a real chance? On trends, there is little between ALLAHO and MIN, and it may boil down to age, with ALLAHO aged 7, the age group slightly favoured by recent winners. MISTER FISHER won The Peterborough Chase (G2) LTO on G/s beating Kalashnikov, and these improving conditions will suit him. He also finished 4th behind SAMCRO in this last year, and both could be good places. I think the way to play this is to dutch MISTER FISHER and ALLAHO for 4pts split.
MISTER FISHER and ALLAHO Win Dutched
15:05 The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (G1) abt 3m
Boringly I struggle to see past PAISLEY PARK, but this morning he is drifting like a badly moored barge. I think the 2020 winner, LISNAGAR OSCAR would be a threat and I can see THE STORYTELLER who won the Plate at this meeting in 2018 and was a close second to SIRE DU BERLAIS in the Pertemps last in 2020, being a nuisance. Gordon Elliott was quietly confident about SIRE DU BERLAIS’ chances (he’s won at the last two Festivals, and he’s steady at 11/2
PAISLEY PARK Win – LISNAGAR OSCAR e/w – PP to beat LO and TS 2 x 1pt SFC.
15:40 The Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase (G3) 2m abt 5f
I really like the look of DEAD RIGHT for this on trends, ownership and trainer. He’ll handle the ground, and he looks as though he’s been laid out for this. Don’t fret about his absence – he will go well fresh. OLD GRANGEWOOD and COOLE CODY also figure on my trends. The former is trained by the Skeltons, who have not had much luck this week. If their luck is to change, it might be with this decent handicapper, who goes well on this course and is honest. He looks value. COOLE CODY had scores of entries, and based on his winning of The Paddy Power last November, he looks on a good mark and will like the ground.
DEAD RIGHT e/w – OLD GRANGEWOOD e/w – COOLE CODY e/w
16:15 The Parnell Properties Mares Novices’ Hurdle (G2) 2m 1f
This is the sixth running of this race which I thought was called The Dawn Run, but like so much as Cheltenham – and yes, I am beginning to tick – has been changed for no apparent purpose. Given how many have turned up to meet Mullins four primary selections, Mullins clearly knows the right profile of mare to aim at the Grade 2, and he saddles four runners in this year’s renewal: HOOK UP – GAULOISE – GLENS OF ANTRIM and PONT AVAL. I know they’re skinny trends, but for what it is worth, his winners have been aged 5, rated in 140s and with a top 3 LTO. Teo of those winners came from the Solerina Hurdle, which would give you a GAULOISE. For some sport, you could back the first two horses in the Timeform ratings that have a p for improvement expected, and they would be ALLAVINA and MARTELLO SKY. they are both higher than GAULOISE!
GAULOISE Win – ALLAVINA e/w – MARTELLO SKY e/w – Mullins to beat the other 2 in 2 x ½pt SFC
16:50 (The JRL Group) Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (0-145) 3m abt 2f
BOB MAHLER was third in this last year and is 5lb lower on drying ground. All his wins have come on ground with the word good in it. STORM CONTROL loves Cheltenham (two wins November and December) dropping back in trip, will go from the front, which has worked a couple of time so far this meeting. You have to have GO ANOTHER ONE in this e/w. He has posted 23 top 3 finishes, including 11 victories from 28 starts under rules. OK, forgive him for his 7th fence fall in this last year, he is 9lb off his best RPR, and John C McConnell has 3 winners from 4 Cheltenham runners.
STORM CONTROL e/w – BOB MAHLER e/w – GO ANOTHER ONE e/w