JLT Novices’ Chase 1.30pm
I can honestly say I could have made a case for two thirds of the field here. The JLT is one of the more open Grade 1’s of the meeting in the end I have just come down on the side of Nicky Henderson’s Terrefort who has clearly established himself as a very high class horse, even though his trainer has never seen any hint of that ability at home.
Hard to know exactly what to make of the Scilly Isles Novices Chase form wise, but one thing it did highlight was that Terrefort has more in the way of speed than we had given him credit for from his French efforts and perhaps, his victory at Huntingdon in January.
We know he handles bad ground, we also know he is a work in progress who is only going to improve and whilst there might be a more brilliant horse in the race it’s difficult to know exactly which it is. Terrefort is a pretty solid choice to hit the frame at least and I don’t think he is a bad bet to win the opener on Day 3.
Pertemps Final – 2.10pm
I toyed with a number of runners in here and towards the front of the market the one that appeals most is Louis’ Vac Pouch who’s been laid away for this, had his mark protected and is quite strongly fancied by the stable.
That said it’s well known that the Philip Hobbs yard hasn’t had the best of years and I’d be wanting to roll in with a horse at a slightly bigger price as well, so I’m also going to chance Kansas City Chief for Neil Mullholland.
I had him earmarked for this after the ridiculously impressive win at Doncaster in January and whilst it’s been a bit disappointing to see him beaten a couple of times since, I suspect connections might not be as downbeat about that as I’ve been.
He comes in here off what looks a competitive mark and I just saw something at Doncaster that day that made me think he could prove way ahead of the posse. So at the prices he’s interesting.
Ryanair Chase – 2.50pm
A brilliant race in store for the Ryanair. I was worried about Un De Sceaux’s stamina in conditions especially with additional rain fall expected and what has already come before, but Ruby Walsh gently reminded me that he won the Prix la Barka at Auteuil in 2016 over 2m5f+ on desperate ground when he tanked all the way round and didn’t stop, so that’s a fairy convincing case that what he faces here shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
He’s been very, very good at Cheltenham, only giving best to Sprinter Sacre on a going day and I think he ought to win.
I can see Cue Card running a bold race, even at the age of 12 but if there’s one who is overpriced in the race I thought it might be Frodon. He was very impressive at Cheltenham earlier in the season and just pulled a little too hard at Ascot, but if he comes on a bit for that run, he’s not going to be too far behind them. If you are inclined to look for a bigger priced pick in here, he might be of some interest.
However, I do expect Un De Sceaux to win.
Stayers Hurdle – 3.30pm
This year’s Stayers Hurdle is a terrific race with a massive field. I think Sam Spinner will win the race, he’s the coming force this season and he is more and more impressive in the Long Walk Hurdle the more you watch it. He’s got a deceptive stride and covers a lot of ground relative to his rivals.
With copper bottomed stamina and ability to handle any conditions I make him a fairly uncomplicated selection here and I don’t think he is a bad price either.
My shortlist behind him consists of Barcardys, who has some strong Grade 1 form, is the choice of the stable jockey and apparently working very well. Unowhatimeanharry who went off odds on for this last year can run into a place again, and dear old Yanworth who everybody hates but I really rather like.
Alan King’s runner has an awful lot in his favour, including a Grade 1 victory over Supersundae at Aintree over hurdles last year, which is arguably the only time he has been asked to race in a contest that suits him perfectly, i.e. a race over hurdles and three miles. So I’m certainly inclined to include him in the shake up.
Brown Advisory Plate – 4.10pm
Just the 24 runners to pick through and so I’ll go with one of the more obvious contenders and one perhaps a little out of left field. Tully East won last years Close Brothers Novices’ Chase well and shaped encouragingly last time. I don’t think he is too badly handicapped when you consider his Festival form and he should figure prominently once again for trainer Alan Fleming.
One who has been getting himself interestingly handicapped by running in races he’s got no business to be running in is Traffic Fluide for Gary Moore. Two and half miles, well run, with a bit of ease in the ground is probably absolutely spot on, although it’s quite hard to tell as he’s been getting well beaten in very hot contests.
No doubt he’s been doing his best but the handicapper has been dropping him every time and this was very nearly a Grade 1 horse not that long ago and he’s now in a race he can actually be competitive in for the first time this season. What you have then is quite an interesting runner at a massive price.
Mares Novices’ Hurdle – 4.50pm
If Laurina is as good as everybody is making out then this is probably a race to skip over and go and find a cup of tea or a pint of Guinness! I can watch her win at the current price, it will probably be bloodless but this is horse racing so let’s at least stick to the possibility something else might happen.
I love Maria’s Benefit. I don’t like the fact she has had a hold up and I don’t like the fact that she had quite a hard race last time, but she is admirable and classy and I’d love to see her win.
One that could be ducking under the radar a little bit is Cap Soleil, who did look very good earlier in the season and for whatever reason the wheels fell off the second time and then she wasn’t really that impressive at Haydock in December.
I do feel she has more innate ability than most of these and I know she has come back into a bit of form at home lately, with the spring arriving, so she might be an interesting one against the favourite here and I’ll go for her.
Kim Muir – 5.30pm
The finale on Day 3 should see Pendra run really well once again. I don’t think it’s a significantly better race than last year and he was pretty unlucky not to win. He got messed around at the bypassed fence and he had probably set sail for home a little bit sooner than jockey Derek O’Connor might have liked that day.
I am going to give him one last chance at the Festival.
If you want one at a slightly bigger price who might have been forgotten about, and I hope has been kept back for this race, then it’s Braqueur D’Or for Paul Nicholls. He ran a really good race for a very inexperienced horse in the Ladbroke Gold Cup and that sort of form should see him prove effective in a Kim Muir and I’ll certainly be having a few quid on him.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.