Sportsmail’s racing expert Robin Goodfellow dishes out his tips for day three of the Cheltenham Festival featuring the Stayers Hurdle.
Spiritofthegames (right) could provide Dan Skelton with another success at Cheltenham
1.30 Kildisart (nb)
2.10 First Assignment
3.30 Paisley Park
4.10 Spiritofthegames (nap)
5.30 Rogue Angel
2.50 Road To Respect (nap)
3.30 Supasundae (nb)
4.10 Romain De Senam
5.30 The Young Master
Northerner – 5.30 Squouateur (nb)
JLT NOVICES’ CHASE
1.30: GRADE ONE — 2 MILES 4 FURLONGS
There is little doubt Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation are the form picks and the score stands at one apiece between them this season. Conditions will favour the latter, but Defi Du Seuil is the classier horse and could finish on top again.
However, KILDISART represents a stable already among the winners this week and is narrowly preferred after impressing with a cosy win on Trials Day over course and distance.
He has a little to find on official ratings, but looked to have a good bit in hand when winning last time and would appreciate a decent gallop.
Backing Mengli Khan is probably not for the faint-hearted but last year’s third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hasn’t met soft ground since chasing home Summerville Boy and he was favourite to beat Le Richebourg at Leopardstown over Christmas.
BEST BET: KILDISART 9-1
NEXT BEST: MENGLI KHAN 14-1
PERTEMPS NETWORK HURDLE
2.10: LISTED — 3 MILES
Connections of FIRST ASSIGNMENT were probably disappointed when their progressive, short-priced hurdler was beaten at Haydock in November, trying to follow up his nine-length Cheltenham defeat of Boyhood a week earlier.
Time has told he lost nothing in defeat that day, though, as Paisley Park and Shades Of Midnight finished narrowly in front of him and the former is a short price for the Stayers’ Hurdle, while Shades Of Midnight lifted a Grade Two on his next start.
First Assignment then followed the path of the last 30 winners by running in this calendar year at Warwick. Others to catch the eye include Leopardstown qualifier winner Cuneo, runner-up Walk To Freedom and third-home Thermistocles, while Notwhatiam has improved after switching to Dan Skelton and shaped well in the Warwick qualifier.
BEST BET: FIRST ASSIGNMENT 11-1
NEXT BEST: NOTWHATIAM 12-1
Paisley Park (right) has stamped himself as a class act this term in winning all four starts
2.50: GRADE ONE — 2 MILES 5 FURLONGS
A cracking renewal with a host of possibles and preference for MONALEE over Footpad and Road To Respect can only be marginal. The selection appears better at today’s trip than trying to stretch beyond three miles.
If he can find some rhythm at the head of affairs, with Rachael Blackmore on board, he should deliver a big performance judging by his effort here in last year’s RSA Chase, when only Presenting Percy was too strong.
Last year’s Arkle Chase winner Footpad moves up in trip, which should suit as he hasn’t really fired over two miles, with his jumping looking anything but as exhilarating as it used to be. This trip could also be a better test for Road To Respect.
BEST BET: MONALEE 4-1
NEXT BEST: ROAD TO RESPECT 9-2
SUN RACING STAYERS’ HURDLE
3.30: GRADE ONE — 3 MILES
This is arguably more competitive than the betting would have you believe, but PAISLEY PARK has stamped himself as a class act this term in winning all four starts. The manner of his runaway Cleeve Hurdle win confirmed him as a star.
His connections report him to be thriving and he has progressed with each run, so is clearly a worthy favourite with no concerns over conditions.
West Approach has chased home the selection a couple of times this season and appeals as an each-way wager once more, while Black Op could step forward significantly on what he achieved in the Cleeve Hurdle behind Paisley Park because he was thought in need of the run that day. Gruelling conditions could bring out a career-best performance.
BEST BET: PAISLEY PARK 15-8
NEXT BEST: WEST APPROACH 22-1
Monalee should deliver a big performance with Rachael Blackmore (above) on board
BROWN ADVISORY AND MERRIEBELLE PLATE CHASE
4.10: GRADE THREE – 2 MILES 5 FURLONGS
Dan Skelton has proved this week that he is a superb target trainer and SPIRITOFTHE GAMES could provide the Midlands handler with another success.
The selection ran well at last year’s Festival, taking fifth behind stablemate and winner Mohaayed in the County Hurdle, and his season looks to have centred on preparing him for a handicap chase at this meeting. The cheekpieces which served him well last season are back on today.
The handicap fought out by Siruh Du Lac and Janika here on Trials Day looks a pivotal piece of form, while Bouvreuil has been placed on three of his four starts at the Festival (brought down on his other one) and could run a big race if the wind operation works.
BEST BET: SPIRITOFTHE GAMES 8-1
NEXT BEST: JANIKA 9-2
NATIONAL HUNT MARES’ HURDLE
4.50: GRADE TWO — 2 MILES 1 FURLONGS
EPATANTE has been a little fresh for her own good in two UK starts since joining Nicky Henderson from France, but she is extremely talented mare and connections reach for the hood in order to encourage her to settle a little better.
She has sauntered through both starts for her new handler this winter and could be a tough horse to get off the bridle if her rider can encourage her to drop her head and concentrate.
Posh Trish looks the chief rival to trouble the selection as she possesses tenacity and resilience in equal measure and, like so many of her fellow Ditcheat inmates, has become a professional winner.
BEST BET: EPATANTE 9-4
NEXT BEST: POSH TRISH 6-1
FULKE WALWYN KIM MUIR CHALLENGE CHASE
5.30: 3 MILES 2 FURLONGS
ROGUE ANGEL may not appear the most obvious selection in this competitive finale, but he could run better than his recent form suggests. It was only last November that he claimed an honourable second place in the Cork National.
The 2016 Irish National winner hasn’t been seen for 11 weeks, but his completed form figures following a break of more than two months read respectably (1213272489513), so the absence isn’t a concern and the last six winners of the race have all worn headgear.
That last statistic augurs well for Any Second Now, who was a sizeable punt at last year’s Festival and looks a live contender following an encouraging run in graded company at Navan. Measureofmydreams also boasts a huge chance for powerful connections.
BEST BET: ROGUE ANGEL 20-1
NEXT BEST: ANY SECOND NOW 9-1
PETER SCUDAMORE – EIGHT TIMES CHAMPION JOCKEY
It’s a typically wide-open Pertemps Network Final but it’s worth taking a chance on Black Mischief improving on his first attempt at the trip.
Last seen when fourth in a qualifier at Wincanton on Boxing Day, Black Mischief was a winner over 2m 3f at Haydock in November prior to that, finishing strongly to get up close home.
He shaped like a horse who would appreciate further. His pedigree offers hope in this regard, his dam being a half-sister to a 3m winner. Defi du Seuil and Lostint ranslat ion are closely matched in the JLT Novices’ Chase on their two previous runnings this season but Defi strikes me as classier.
He can confirm winning Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase form and add this JLT prize to his win in the Triumph Hurdle two years ago. The Ryanair Chase is a highquality affair but at the prices I will take a chance on last year’s winner Balko Des Flos bouncing back to his best.
Footpad, Frodon, Monalee, Road To Respect and Un De Sceaux will provide stiff competition but if Balko Des Flos returns to the level he showed when beating Un De Sceaux in similarly testing ground 12 months ago, he will be a match for any of them.
HAYLEY MOORE – PRESENTER FOR SKY SPORTS RACING
My head tells me that the solid Monalee will go close in the Ryanair Chase for jockey Rachael Blackmore but I am going to be ruled by my heart and go for FOOTPAD.
Things have not gone smoothly this season for Ruby Walsh’s mount but his form at the Cheltenham Festival is excellent and the longer trip he faces here should be fine for him.
Last year’s Arkle Trophy Novices’ Chase winner reminds me a little of my father’s Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy.
Like all great horses, they are prone to the odd mistake because they are pushing themselves to the limit and leaving little margin for error over their fences in an attempt to gain precious inches.
Footpad’s defeat at Leopardstown over Christmas at the hands of Simply Ned was a little disappointing but horses who have had a fall on their previous start can often need an outing to bounce back to their best.
Trainer Emma Lavelle has a great chance in the Stayers’ Hurdle with Paisley Park and could also go close in the Pertemps Network Final with Flemcara. I saw him win at Chepstow, where he went through testing ground well.
CAPTAIN HEATH (MARCUS TOWNEND)
The Irish appeared to hold all the aces in the staying hurdle division until the emergence this season of PAISLEY PARK. The way he stormed away from the best of the British hopes in the Cleeve Hurdle here in January was a real statement performance. He’ll be tough to beat if he reproduces that.
FORMCAST (NIGEL TAYLOR)
Frodon has improved to win three of his four starts this season, two of them over this course. He would have to give weight to this field in a handicap and can make it a hat-trick of victories.
CAPTAIN HEATH’S SELECTIONS
1.30 LOSTINTRANSLATION 7-2
2.10 TOBEFAIR 33-1
2.50 MONALEE 9-2
3.30 PAISLEY PARK 15-8
4.10 KING’S ODYSSEY 22-1
4.50 EPATANTE 9-4
5.30 ANY SECOND NOW 9-1
1.30 DEFI DU SEUIL 3-1
2.10 CUNEO 14-1
2.50 FRODON 11-2
3.30 PAISLEY PARK 15-8
4.10 RIVER WYLDE 11-1
4.50 POSH TRISH 6-1
5.30 TOUCH KICK 20-1
BEAT THE FAVOURITE
Our football experts like to go against the grain with their tips. Here are their picks to trounce Thursday’s fancied runners…
JAMIE REDKNAPP: IT’S ALL GUESS WORK (5.30)
CHRIS SUTTON: THE STORY TELLER (2.50)
CELEBRITY NAP: ED CHAMBERLIN – UN DE SCEAUX
The ITV racing presenter has gone for a Willie Mullinstrained horse as his tip in the Ryanair Chase at 2.50pm.
WINNERS ENCLOSURE – BEST BETS, BEST ODDS WITH LADBROKES’ NICOLA McGEADY
The highlight of day three is the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle. Favourite Paisley Park is the banker of the week for many people, but we are happy to lay him. He hasn’t beaten much and he will have more on his plate against the Irish brigade.
His closest rival comes from Willie Mullins’ yard — Faugheen, ridden by Ruby Walsh. We haven’t seen him since that heart-stopping fall in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown but I hear he’s in good form and he likes this track. At 11 years old, though, the stats are against him.
Only Penhill finished ahead of Supasundae in this race 12 months ago and I like his price of 8-1 to go one better this time around for Jessica Harrington.
THE BOOKIES’ VIEW BY LAURA LAMBERT
The bookies were bruised after four favourites including Altior and Tiger Roll won on day two. After only one favourite triumphed all day on Tuesday, leaving the bookies firmly in charge, Ladies Day was one for the punters.
Ben Keith, owner of Star Sports, said: ‘We won on day one, we’ve lost on day two. The results have been quite difficult to win on because so many favourites have won, with Altior and Tiger Roll, then Band of Outlaws was very bad. We have lost about £400,000 on Band of Outlaws, that was the worst result of the Festival so far.’
Envoi Allen completed the fightback in the final race yesterday, winning at 2-1 to huge roars from the crowd. Keith took a bet of £100,000 on Altior at 2-5, which would have won £40,000.
Overall, he said he had lost £100,000 on Tiger Roll, who won at 5-4, but added: ‘I would have taken that before the race. I thought that a lot more punters would have backed it.’
Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes agreed the punters had edged ahead after Tuesday. She said: ‘The Festival had been challenging for punters but Tiger Roll’s stunning victory redeemed the day. He was one of the bankers of the week, leaving the bookmakers trailing.’