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    Cheltenham Blog  -  Day Three, Thursday 14th March 2012    
    DATE POSTED: 13/03/2012    

Ruby blasted the Bumper, Back In Focus was a clear winner and Sprinter Sacre was simply imperious
.  So much for day two, now its on to day three of Cheltenham 2013 with the World Hurdle, Ryanair and the postponed Cross Country...


Drying ground may give some assistance to the speedsters but stamina is what gets them home on the long run from the last bend so we tend to go for horses with a Cheltenham track record. David Pipe’s DYNASTE certainly fits the bill admirably in the opening Jewson Novices Chase (1-30pm). His trainer has chosen this race rather than the longer RSA Chase, and he does have a real favourite’s chance. Willie Mullins won this race last year so he knows what it takes, and his Aupcharlie could maybe upset the odds and he’s a decent EW chance but there are a lot of improving novice chasers here and a future champion could easily emerge from the pack.

The Pertemps Final (2-05) is a 3m hurdle which always attracts a good field. SAM WINNER is well handicapped and Paul Nicholls feels he has a “massive chance” despite the 6yo having a screw inserted into a fractured knee as a result of falls last year. We also note that Nicky Henderson is having a go with improving 6yo Top of the Range who will be suited by the drying ground and looks good value.

The Ryanair Chase (2-40pm) looks a bit wishy-washy this year. True, Albertas Run is back for more since winning it in 2010 & 2011, plus just being pipped by the younger Riverside Theatre last year, but at 12yo, time is surely not on his side. Riverside Theatre hasn’t sparked in 2 runs since  so, comes off the short-list. First Lieutenant hasn’t won since Nov 2011 and is favourite on the strength of a short head defeat in a hot race at Leopardstown at Christmas. That form looks good and the horse is suited by a left-hand track but the odds don’t tempt us. The best options seem to be CUE CARD, who was scintillating at  Exeter in January, and followed up with a good victory at Ascot last month. It may be his turn for the Cheltenham spotlight tomorrow.  This is probably Menorah’s best distance and he’s got a real probability of a place.

A World Hurdle (3-20pm) without Big Bucks means this year’s running is undoubtedly a lesser event than we’ve grown used to. However, we need to move on and picking a winner is a more interesting puzzle this time round.  French-bred stayers have a good record, and REVE DU SIVOLA has run two great rehearsals for this race in his last two outings, going up 24lbs in the Handicapper’s estimation. Without having to worry about that here, he looks a good proposition to keep the seat warm, hopefully for Big Bucks return next season. Another French-bred horse is Paul Nicholls’s Wonderful Charm. The 5yo has had the benefit of a wind operation and his trainer is hopeful of a good run.

The 4-00pm race, the Byrne Group Plate has a whacking field of 24 runners vying for the £51,000 prize. It doesn’t have the glamour of some of the other races and there will probably be as many tips as runners for this handicap chase. CANTLOW tackles his first handicap chase here and his novice victories have suggested suggest there is more to come. He’s well in at the weights, well supported in the betting and has AP McCoy to drive him on, so we will make him our selection in a very difficult race to all. We note that Ferdy Murphy’s 9yo,  Divers, is a shorter price than perhaps one might expect, and it could be that his shrewd handler has been preparing him for some time for a tilt at this. Recent form is nothing to shout about but the horse won at the Festival in 2011.

Another maximum field lines up for the Kim Muir Handicap for Amateur Riders (4-40pm), any of whom would be pleased to be offered a ride on SUPER DUTY. Derek O’Connor has received the nod and we know trainer Don McCain feels the partnership have a great chance. The Irish haven’t won this race for 30 years but we feel that Patrick Mullins may go close to change that on board Vesper Bell for his father Willie. He’s dropping back in trip tomorrow and should be staying on at the death.

We previewed the rescheduled Glenfarcas Chase on Monday. Here’s a copy to refresh your memory:

The Cross-Country Chase (5-15pm) was in the grip of the Irish for a decade, until Philip Hobbs provided a bit of respite for the home country when winning with Balthazar King last year. He has ducked the race this year due to the soft ground so it may be a return to business as usual for the Irish who field 10 of the 16 runners. It looks like the gutsy ARABELLA BOY, who will have considerable assistance in the saddle from Nina Carberry, could justify favouritism. Anyone looking for an outsider could do worse than trying 12yo Leac an Scail, who has been revitalised this year by jockey Sam Drake.

Nap of the Day is DYNASTE and the outsider suggestion is Menorah

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