Day Three Cheltenham Festival Preview

13:30 - DEFI DU SEUIL

This is the third time they have crossed paths this season and with Lostintranslation having the course victory to his name he has to be feared, but if Geraghty times this ride better Defi should be coming up on the bridle.

The Phillip Hobbs trained 6-y-o is closely matched on recent form with market-rival Lostintranslation but our selection will be more suited by the rain-softened ground and on ability is the superior horse.

This is the third time they have crossed paths this season and with Lostintranslation having the course victory to his name he has to be feared, but if Geraghty times this ride better Defi should be coming up on the bridle.

14:10 - SIRE DU BERLAIS & NOWHATIAM

We have three each-way pokes in what looks a wide-open renewal of the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle. over 3 miles.

Firstly, last year's Martin Pipe 4th Sire Du Berlais looks to have strong claims for Gordon Elliott off the back of a strong-finishing 6th at Leopardstown.

It just so happens that he needed to finish in the top six that day to get into this race which outlines that this has been the target.

Finally, Dan Skelton's Notwhatiam looks massively over-priced at 20/1. He went into everyone's tracker after his latest run at Warwick and his Aintree third has been boosted at Grade2 level. The Skelton's do well in these races and we don't think he will be 20/1 on the day.

14:50 - MONALEE

Henry De Bromhead's stable-star Monalee is our selection for this year's Ryanair Chase. over 2 mile 4 1/2 furlongs.

He was unlucky to bump into Gold Cup bound Kemboy in this year's Savills Chase where he had some of these rivals in-behind and there is no reason to believe that form will be reversed, especially with the rain expected to fall.

Admittedly the race fell apart when he went on to collect the Red Mills next time out with the second-fav bombing out but he looked impressive from the front and should be confident coming into this.

Form of last year's RSA behind Presenting Percy looks solid.

15:30 - PAISLEY PARK & BLACK OP

It would be brilliant to see Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park win this year’s stayers and he looks the most likely winner having thrashed everything in sight on trials day.

The main concern is that he hasn’t faced the Irish, but Penhill and Samcro looked two of their leading chances and neither will be turning up on Thursday.

If Faugheen stood up behind Apple’s Jade last time the market could look a whole lot different, but he didn’t and still comes here with something to prove, so at an e/w angle we are advising Black Op at 14/1.

He finished nicely behind Samcro in the Ballymore here last season and should be in the frame, especially with bookies offering extra places on the day.

16:10 - SPIRITOFTHEGAMES & KALONDRA

Another tricky handicap on Thursday where we fancy Dan Skelton’s Spiritofthegames and the in-form Neil Mullholland’s Kalondra.

The former is an un-exposed chaser who has wasted no time in competing at the top level, staying on eye-catchingly from mid-division here on trials day.

That run should have put him spot on for this and he will go on any ground. The latter, who ran no sort of race last time out, has been given a break ahead of this and his yard have sent out seven winners in the past two weeks.

They will be disappointed not to get one at the festival and this looks one of their better chances.

16:50 - QUEENOHEARTS & MY SISTER SARAH

If the rain pours, then we are quite sweet on Queenohearts in this one. Stuart Edmunds has had a good season and has been open to the fact that he thinks this is a smart mare.

She rallied gamely on heavy going at Haydock in December, beating a decent Nicholls horse who again had a crack at Doncaster next time out, but she wasn’t for passing even after clattering the last.

More rain the better. Willie Mullins has won this every year since it’s inaugural which makes any of his charges immediately feared, but it is the 20/1 shot My Sister Sarah who stands out most.

She is unbeaten all-bar a terrible ride at Fairyhouse and has been over-looked in the market.

17:30 - MEASUREOFMYDREAMS, SKY PIRATE & KILFILUM CROSS

We end the day with a big-field handicap and we have shortlisted three possible each way plays. Gordon Elliot has to be respected when he puts one up in these races and he has openly admitted Measureofmydreams has plenty in hand.

The price isn’t what it was, with some shrewdies sitting nice on quotes of 33/1, but at 8/1 there is still a fair e/w bet available.

Sky Pirate is another who seemingly had some weight in-hand. He was travelling like a good thing when brought down here at the November meeting and is a danger to all if he gets in.

Last but not least, Derek O’Connor came over to land the gamble on Kilfilum Cross at Ludlow on debut for Henry Oliver and it is hard to see him not running a big race here. He won despite jumping to the left throughout and will prefer this track.

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