1.30 Marsh Novices’ Chase
Samcro (7/2) and the legendary Faugheen (4/1) are both entered in this win and a winner for the Willie Mullins 12-year-old will take the Cheltenham roof off. Both Irish entries are likely to be popular selections, but the winner is likely to come from one of the British contingent, headed by Itchy Feet (4/1) and Mister Fisher (9/2).
Itchy Feet is a slightly shorter price and is Olly Murphy’s best chance to clinch a Festival winner, but Nicky Henderson’s Mister Fisher looks the pick of the bunch. They’ve had similar campaigns this season, but Itchy Feet and doesn’t have a Grade One under his belt like his rival, although he could have the edge here. In a strongly run race Mister Fisher will have a slight edge given he’s showing better progression, the course and distance experience should also count in this.
Melon (11/1) is worth a mention. Twice runner up in the Champion Hurdle, but less promising this season.
2.10 Pertempts Handicap Hurdle
There’s plenty to pick from in what could be a profitable race for whoever correctly backs a winner. The Storyteller leads the market, but again the value is elsewhere. A Great View (14/1) is a great shout having been campaigned for this race for a long time.
Further down the field is Jatiluwih (20/1), who offers great each-way value. He won well at Cheltenham in December over two miles five furlongs, the distance he tends to enjoy the most, but everything about him suggests the step-up in trip will help him out. David Maxwell being booked to ride is a slight concern, although he’s generally not been awkward hurdling.
2.50 Ryanair Chase
This is a fairly difficult race to call, not because choosing the winner is tricky business, but backing against Frodon (5/1) feels so hard.
His win in this race last year was heroic and the highlight of the Festival. Frodon is a regular feature in the Cheltenham Winners’ enclosure having won here five times in 13 appearances, and there will not be many more popular winners if he retains his crown.
A Plus Tard (7/4) presents the biggest challenge. His speed is a serious threat to Frodon, who can’t match his pace if their staying power is even.
Both are likely to outstay Min (12/5), and A Plus Tard could have the slight edge over Paul Nicholls’ stable-star, but do you really want to bet against Frodon at Cheltenham?
3.30 Stayers’ Hurdle
Paisley Park (8/13) will retain the Stayers’ Hurdle and there’s nothing to suggest he won’t. It’s as simple as that. He’s been unbeaten since his win here last year and has shown no sign of regression in his two runs since.
This means it’s time to turn to attention to each-way value elsewhere. Tobefair (66/1) is going off at a huge price, and while he is certainly out of his depth on paper, there are some signs of progression and he enjoys the trip at Cheltenham.
4.10 Brown Advisory
Simply the Betts (10/3) is the clear market leader after he blew away a good field at Cheltenham in January, but there is value to be had further down the list. La Bague Au Roi (12/1) won a Grade One last season and ran well in the Irish Gold Cup in February. She’s not had the best season in terms of finishing positions, but connections are positive about the progress she’s been making and will be a good price on the day.
4.50 Mares’ Novices Hurdle
Willie Mullins has won all our renewals of this race and has Concertista (4/1), Colreevy (13/2) and Dolcita (7/1) all in the top four of the betting, Henry De Bromhead’s Minella Melody (11/4) heads the betting.
However, Mount Ida (22/1) could spring a surprise after only being beaten by under a length by Minella Melody in early December off level weights, she has five pounds in her favour for the Cheltenham rematch. Filly Midnight’s Gift (28/1), a vibrant four-year-old, could also deliver off a short price.
5.30 Kim Muir
Le Breuil (11/2) is close to being favourite and could go here after winning last year’s National Hunt Chase. He’s well-handicapped and has the advantage of being ridden by Jamie Codd, master of Amateur Riders’ races.
Deise Aba (8/1) comes into this off the back of some smart form, but he’s not proven beyond much more than three miles.
Thursday selectins – prices via SportNation.bet
- 1.30 Mister Fischer (9/2)
- 2.10 A Great View 14/1 Jatiluwih (20/1) ew
- 2.50 Frodon (5/1)
- 3.30 Paisley Park (8/13) Tobefair (66/1) ew
- 4.10 La Bague Au Roi (12/1)
- 4.50 Mount Ida (22/1)
- 5.30 Le Breuil (11/2)
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