Day Three Cheltenham Festival Preview (2020)

betting on course at cheltenham
Cheltenham - March 12 2020
Cheltenham 13:30
4
Mr P W Mullins

Melon

J:
 
Mr P W Mullins
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 8
Weight: 11-4
OR: 151

Willie Mullins holds a very strong hand in this seasons Marsh Novices Chase fielding four possible runners and the one that we like the most is Melon.

This eight year old has a superb Cheltenham record not finishing outside the top three on his four outings at Prestbury Park with those runs coming in Grade One and Grade Two company.

He was a very smart horse over hurdles finishing second three times in a row at the Cheltenham festival in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and Champion Hurdle Twice.

Now going over fences he has ran to a fair standard finishing a decent second on debut behind Fakir D'oudairies and then got off the mark for the first time at Leopardstown.

Last time out when stepped up to Grade One company over fences for the first he was fourth behind Notebook and he will need to improve at a track he likes in similar company.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/05/22KLN20Gd11-82
17/04/22COR24Hy11-81
17/03/22CHL20.5Sft11-105
19/02/22GOW20Hy11-31
28/12/21LEO24Y11-124
Cheltenham - March 12 2020
Cheltenham 14:10
3
Davy Russell

The Storyteller

J:
 
Davy Russell
T:
 
Gordon Elliott
Age: 9
Weight: 11-9
OR: 149

The second race of the day is the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle and with such a big field heading to post we have two runners.

The first is the favourite for Gordon Elliott and Storyteller has a superb chance not racing since perfectly qualifying for this event at Leopardstown when finishing sixth.

This nine year old is a Grade One chase winner that is on a much lesser handicap mark over hurdles which makes him very appealing.

He is also a previous Cheltenham festival winner in the 2018 Brown Advisory Plate and we all know how much course form means here.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
26/12/22DRO24Sft12-07
19/09/21LIS20Gd/Y11-7PU
29/04/21PUN24Y11-127
18/03/21CHL24GS11-105
07/02/21LEO24.5Sft11-122
Cheltenham - March 12 2020
Cheltenham 14:10
16
Paul Townend

Relegate

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
C A Murphy
Age: 7
Weight: 10-11
OR: 137

The other selection for us is the 2018 Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner Relegate who was previously with Willie Mullins but now with handler C A Murphy.

As a bumper horse she was exceptional but when taken over hurdles last season was very tricky, giving her best start on her second run when winning a 25 runner maiden.

This season since training yards she has had one run and finished a staying on fourth to qualify for the contest and that late flurry is what has made this horse eye-catching.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
21/11/20HAY24.5Sft10-8PU
08/11/20NAV20Sft/Hy11-04
12/03/20CHL24Sft10-115
19/02/20PUN24Hy10-64
02/02/19LEO22Gd/Y11-35
Cheltenham - March 12 2020
Cheltenham 14:50
1
Rachael Blackmore

A Plus Tard

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 6
Weight: 11-10
OR: 166

Our best bet of the day on Thursday is the Henry De Bromhead trained A Plus Tard who will be very tough to beat if running to his best.

He scored at the Cheltenham festival last season in the Novices Handicap looking like a Graded horse when bolting up.

He started this season at Navan in a Grade Two and he was narrowly beat by Ballyoisin who ran to a great standard that day and it was a nice race for A Plus Tard to reappear in.

He then used that run to land his first Grade One over fences at Leopardstown over Christmas, outstaying the highly talented Chacun Pour Soi.

That sets the form standard in this contest and if being fresh after not running since that win then he has to be respected.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
19/11/22HAY25.5Sft11-10PU
18/03/22CHL26.5GS11-101
28/12/21LEO24Y11-122
20/11/21HAY25.5GS11-71
19/03/21CHL26.5GS11-102
Cheltenham - March 12 2020
Cheltenham 15:30
8
Aidan Coleman

Paisley Park

J:
 
Aidan Coleman
T:
 
Emma Lavelle
Age: 8
Weight: 11-10
OR: 169

Paisley Park came onto the scene last season at Aintree when he took a Class 2 Handicap over two and a half miles, from there it was unthinkable of what progression he could of actually produced but he stepped up in trip to three miles and took to it like a duck to water.

Arguably one of his greatest runs during the season was on his second start when he landed the Grade Three Handicap Hurdle at Haydock, somehow getting up late in the day to see off two other horses.

Ascot was next on the agenda in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle and this was the geldings biggest test to date and he did what he does best coming from off the pace and off the bridle early to steam up by the leaders late in the day and land the contest.

Paisley Park landing the Grade 1 giving the yard its first-ever black-type victory which was huge for Emma Lavelle as she is a fairly small yard compared to others in the sport and it was a huge occasion for connections also, with his owner Andrew Gemmell being blind.

Cheltenham was next up in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle with the overall goal being the Stayers Hurdle at the festival with this being seen as a prep run and he bolted up again, leaving his odds for the four-day meeting slashed massively.

March came around quickly and Paisley Park was being labelled one of the bankers of the week, which is unheard of in a big fielded race like the Stayers Hurdle but like he had done all season he hacked up and it turned out to be one of the fairy-tale moments of the 2019 Cheltenham festival.

Now a fan favourite, many punters were very apprehensive about where he would start off his campaign this season with the big aim again being to defend his Stayers Hurdle title.

He started this season in the same form as last term by extending his unbeaten run to six races after seeing off some top horses including Thistlecrack when landing the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

Last time out he headed back to Prestbury Park to retain his title in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle where he put in a workman like performance to take the contest.

The win looked more impressive than his first run of the season with his jumping being better than it ever has been and he looks sure to give another stand out performance at a track he loves.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/01/23CHL24Sft11-83
26/12/22KEM24.5Sft11-71
25/11/22NBY24Gd11-82
28/04/22PUN23.5Gd/Y11-105
17/03/22CHL24Sft11-103
Cheltenham - March 12 2020
Cheltenham 16:10
6
Gavin Sheehan

Simply The Betts

J:
 
Gavin Sheehan
T:
 
Harry Whittington
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 149

One of the big market movers of the week for Harry Whittington is Simply The Betts who has had a massive form boost when Imperial Aura landed the Northern Trust Novices Handicap on the first day of the festival and his horse beat that over course and distance last time out.

That sets the form standard in this contest and with him not being outside the top two all season aswell he has everything going in his favour.

He won his first two races this season, only finishing second on his third start where he managed to stay on from nowhere to grab the place.

Looks tough to beat.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
01/01/23CHL20.5Sft11-59
12/11/22CHL20Gd11-77
13/04/22CHL20.5Gd11-102
29/01/22CHL25.5Gd11-25
01/01/22CHL20.5Sft11-102
Cheltenham - March 12 2020
Cheltenham 16:50
3
Nico de Boinville

Floressa

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 5
Weight: 11-7
OR: 141

The Grade Two Mares Novices Hurdle has been won by Willie Mullins in every renewal since its first race five years ago but we think that will change this year.

Nicky Henderson has already had four winners at the festival this season and we believe he can add to that in this contest with Floressa who has not done a lot wrong this season.

Her form is very solid this season not finishing outside the top three all season and giving her best outing two starts ago when landing a decent Listed Mares contest.

She was third behind the smart Lady Buttons last time out and if improving from that has a live chance here.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/03/21CHL20Sft11-56
30/01/21DON16.5Sft11-42
26/12/20KEM16GS11-04
28/11/20NBY16.5Gd11-51
12/03/20CHL17Sft11-79
Cheltenham - March 12 2020
Cheltenham 17:30
19
Mr Derek O'Connor

Champagne Platinum

J:
 
Mr Derek O'Connor
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 6
Weight: 11-5
OR: 138

The final contest of the day is the Kim Muir Handicap Chase over three miles two furlongs and with plenty going to post we have two runners.

The first is this six year old for Nicky Henderson who is in frightening form already having four winners at the festival across the two days.

This gelding was very eye-catching last time out when finishing a staying on third in the Grade One Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown and that is the form to beat with him dropping back to a handicap.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
20/11/22PUN25Y11-912
29/10/22GAL22Sft/Hy11-1213
31/05/22BAL23Gd/Y11-68
30/04/22PUN31Gd11-7F
18/04/22FAI29Y10-68
Cheltenham - March 12 2020
Cheltenham 17:30
14
Miss Gina Andrews

Ardlethen

J:
 
Miss Gina Andrews
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
OR: 140

From an each way angle at a huge price the Dan Skelton trained Ardlethen who has been smart this season over staying distances.

He has ran five times this season winning on his seasonal debut ahead of the decent Lisnagar Oscar and then he backed that up with another good second behind the even better Sam Spinner.

Since then he has been modest at best but did get back on track last time out when finishing a bold second behind Newtide for Kim Bailey.