Who will the punters put their money on?
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival enters its third day with seven races, including the Stayers Hurdle. Here you can find our expert tips for each race and best bets, including this from Ross Clarke and our race-by-race guide from Marlborough.
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Horses who perform well at Cheltenham have a habit of doing so year after year and that could be evident on Thursday in races in which previous Festival form counts for a lot.
Take the first, the JLT Novices’ Chase, which was first run in 2011. All eight previous winners ran at the Festival the year before and seven of them won the JLT at 7-1 or shorter. Those stats rule out favourite Defi Du Seuil, who missed the meeting last season, and fancied runner Kildisart but point towards Lostintranslation and Real Steel.
Course form is also key in the Ryanair Chase, with the past 11 winners all running at Cheltenham the year before. Of those 11, nine had recorded a win at grade one level over fences and nine had won at the course. Only two of the past 10 winners were priced at bigger than 8-1 and there has been no winner in the past decade bigger than 14-1. With age counting against Un De Sceaux, the stats suggest the winner will come from Footpad, Road To Respect or Frodon.
Fantasy Racing Cheltenham
It is interesting to note that 13 of the past 23 winners of the Pertemps Final won last time out, from around 20 per cent of the runners, while there has also been a significant shift in recent years towards young, improving types winning the race. With that in mind, the Jessica Harrington-trained Not Many Left could be no back number at around 20-1.
David Pipe and Venetia Williams have won five of the past 10 runnings of the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Plate between them. Pipe has also recorded top-five finishes with horses in the past four years so his Eamon An Cnoic could be each-way value at 20-1. Williams saddles two but Gardefort is a huge price at 40-1. He finished second in the Grand Annual two years ago and looked to be on the way back to form when unseating on his last start.
Cheltenham day three tips and best bets by Marlborough
1.30 – JLT Novices Chase
This looks to rest between DEFI DU SEUIL, Reel Steel and Mengli Khan. A narrow preference is for the Philip Hobbs’s chaser, who has got better with each race over fences, particularly with regard to his jumping. Further confidence comes from an obvious appreciation of this track, where, from six appearances, his form figures read 111125. Willie Mullins chose this race in preference to the Arkle for Reel Steel and, having already sent out the impressive winner of that event on Tuesday, it is not hard to see why he took this route. Reel Steel has plenty of potential and won with a good deal in hand last time. He is not passed over lightly. If we can forgive Mengli Khan a pretty disappointing run at Leopardstown then he has claims. One concern with him, though, is the general form of trainer Gordon Elliott’s runners this week.
- Marlborough’s tip – Defi du Seuil
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Kildisart
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Kildisart
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Reel Steel
2.10 – Pertemps Final
A TOI PHIL is better known as a chaser but showed enough when booking his place in a Punchestown qualifier for this race to suggest that his hurdles rating, which is 7lb lower than his chase mark, is definitely workable. Boyhood has run well on two previous visits here and likes give in the ground – the softer the better. In a tough race chances can be given to many. Aaron Lad impressed with the smooth manner in which he travelled when winning over course and distance in December and has not run since, to protect his mark. Black Mischief is expected to enjoy this stiffer test of stamina. Theclockisticking holds his form well.
- Marlborough’s tip – A Toi Phil
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Samburu Shujaa
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Not Many Left
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Aaron Lad
2.50 – Ryanair Chase
FOOTPAD has been a personal disappointment this season as I really rated him as a likely challenger to Altior for two-mile honours after his Arkle Chase win a year ago. This event affords him a solid opportunity to return to winning form and I shall give him one more chance as I cannot believe his brilliance is completely extinguished. Balko De Flo and the likely front-runner Un De Sceaux, the two most recent winners of this contest, are sure to keep the pressure on. Frodon appears the best of the four home-trained runners.
- Marlborough’s tip – Footpad (nap)
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Monalee
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Monalee
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Frodon
3.30 – Stayers Hurdle
Doubts regarding stamina hang over many of these and the safest option may be to side with a horse that is fully proven in that department, PAISLEY PARK. He has looked increasingly assured this season and the only real negative would be if the ground came up very heavy, for his one poor run was on that surface here 12 months ago. Black Op would surely be a factor if he can recapture his Albert Bartlett form last year and he showed signs here last time – when he finished 14 lengths behind Paisley Park – that he retains a good measure of ability. I have always had a soft spot for Faugheen but he has yet to convince me that he truly stays three miles. Sam Spinner was a disappointing favourite for this race a year ago and has something to prove.
- Marlborough’s tip – Paisley Park
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Paisley Park
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Paisley Park
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Black Op
Aidan Coleman riding Paisley Park last year in the JLT Hurdle at Ascot
4.10 – Festival Plate
EAMON AN CNOIC ran a fine race in the Ultima Handicap here at last year’s Festival – he was well there until weakening up the hill to the line. This shorter trip appears ideal and his handicap mark remains fair. Siruh Du Lac is relatively unexposed for a race of this nature and continues to progress. His course-and-distance win in January reads particularly well. Spiritofthegames rarely runs a bad race and seems adaptable regarding ground conditions. Azzerti was balloted out of the Close Brothers Chase on Tuesday – he only made the reserve list. This seems a tougher assignment but he can still run well.
- Marlborough’s tip – Eamon An Cnoic
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Siruh Du Lac (nap)
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Gardefort
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Valseur Lido
4.50 – Mares Novices Hurdle
EPATANTE arrives with a glowing reputation but, reassuringly, she backs that up with some solid form on her record. Sinoria clocked a decent time when beating a useful rival – the pair finishing clear – in a Listed race at Punchestown and should continue to mature. My Sister Sarah, from a yard that does so well in mares events, has to be respected.
- Marlborough’s tip – Epatante
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Sinoria
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Posh Trish
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Epatante
5.30 – Kim Muir Challenge Cup
LIVELOVELAUGH put two disappointments behind him with a fine warm-up effort at Leopardstown. This longer trip is expected to suit and he has the help of probably the best amateur currently riding. Just A Sting has already displayed plenty in just three chase starts and there is surely more to come. Speaker Connolly is another with plenty of potential.
- Marlborough’s tip – Livelovelaugh
- Marcus Armytage’s tip – Measureofmydreams
- Ross Clarke’s tip – Captain Chaos
- Charlie Brooks’ tip – Just A Sting