Thursday saw a good day for the punters as Defi Du Seuil, Sire Du Berlais and Paisley Park all won from favourites.
Defi Du Seuil started the day by winning at 3/1 before Sire Du Berlais and Paisley Park came home at 4/1 and 11/8 respectively.
Frodon triumphing at 9/2 made the day even sweeter for the horse racing public, although the bookies were able to recoup with Any Second Now at 6/1 and Eglantine Du Seuil an incredible 50/1.
Coral’s David Stevens claimed: "We thought Wednesday was bad, when favourites won the last four races, but that seemed like a good day at the office compared to this afternoon, with estimated losses across the industry in the region of £50 million."
But what will happen on Friday with the world famous Gold Cup to play for?
A general view at the Cheltenham Festival
- Cheltenham Festival 2019 Day 3 RESULTS: Every winner including Stayers’ Hurdle
Here’s our man Newsboy’s best tips for the day…
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1.30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle
1 SIR EREC
2 QUEL DESTIN
3 GARDENS OF BABYLON
SIR EREC fully deserves his status as a short-priced favourite.
A useful performer in a truncated career on the Flat for trainer Joseph O’Brien’s father Aidan, the son of Galileo won twice before finishing third to Stradivarius in the Group 2 Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions Day last October.
Sir Erec in action
Following a switch of stables for a hurdles campaign, Sir Erec got off the mark at the first attempt with a neck call from Tiger Tap Tap at Leopardstown over Christmas.
And, returning to Foxrock for the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle, JP McManus’s four-year-old posted an impressive effort in making all the running under Mark Walsh for a six-length supremacy over Gardens Of Babylon.
He sets the standard – he hasn’t finished yet – and will be hard to beat.
Paul Nicholls’ pair Quel Destin, a tough nut, and British debutant Pic D’Orhy also warrant a second glance.
2.10 – Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
1 CROOKS PEAK
2 MR ADJUDICATOR
3 CUT THE MUSTARD
CROOKS PEAK faces the toughest task of his fledgeling career – but is taken to prove up to the task.
The dual bumper winner – he beat just one home behind Relegate in the big one here last March – disappointed in fourth when the 4-6 favourite for his hurdles debut at Newton Abbot in October.
But Crooks Peak is unbeaten in three attempts since beating three opponents at Exeter at the start of November, and one rival, Danny Kirwan, at Kempton Park 20 days later.
Crooks Peak faces a tough test
My selection was absent from the track for three months but returned for his first start in handicaps at Newbury at the beginning of the month.
Crooks Peak proved ahead of his British Horseracing Authority rating with a three-quarter-length defeat of Champagne City, and, carrying a 5lb penalty, has the profile to give a good account.
Mr Adjudicator, stable-companion Cut The Mustard and Monsieur Lecoq are among the likely suspects.
2.50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
1 LISNAGAR OSCAR
LISNAGAR OSCAR looks a stayer with a bright future.
A point-to-point winner in Ireland last March, the Rebecca Curtis six-year-old opened his career under Rules with placed efforts at Chepstow and Ffos Las.
The gelded son of Oscar would arguably have hit the bullseye at the third attempt when taking in a Grade 2 over course and distance 10 days before Christmas, but a mistake at the last cost him dear in finishing second to Rockpoint.
Lisnagar Oscar makes a jump
However, Lisnagar Oscar made amends with a head margin over Dickie Diver at Chepstow in the middle of January.
And his 10-length demolition job in Haydock Park’s Grade 2 Prestige Hurdle over three miles last time – Ask Ben came home in second with Rockpoint sixth – puts down a very solid marker for a stable that won this race with At Fishers Cross six years ago.
Birchdale and Commander Of Fleet and Derrinross are going-places grinders capable of a bold show.
3.30 – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
1 ELEGANT ESCAPE
2 PRESENTING PERCY
3 ANIBALE FLY
ELEGANT ESCAPE is an upwardly mobile chaser who has each-way claims – at the very least.
This time last year, the Colin Tizzard seven-year-old had only a distant view of Presenting Percy when a 14-length third in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase, in which Al Boum Photo was in the bronze-medal position when coming down two out.
But Elegant Escape, who had a breathing operation over the summer, has emerged a different horse this season.
After a return-to-action success at Sandown Park in November, my selection chased home stablemate Sizing Tennessee in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury next time.
Elegant Escape is Newsboy’s tip for the Gold Cup
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Tom O’Brien’s mount bludgeoned 19 rivals, including third home Yala Enki, in the Welsh Grand National two days after Christmas, beating Ramses De Teillee by a length and a quarter off a British Horseracing Authority rating of 151.
Elegant Escape comes here on the back of a three-quarter-length defeat by Frodon in the Cotswold Chase here in January.
But the gelded son of Dubai Destination was staying on all the way up the hill, and the additional furlong and 14 yards yards will help his cause – as would any overnight rain.
Presenting Percy has led the market for the blue ribbon since his RSA Chase victory.
The fact his reclusive trainer Pat Kelly has sent him out just once – and then to win over hurdles – can’t be viewed as a positive, but Davy Russell’s partner remains a horse of Gold Cup potential.
Presenting Percy jostles for favouritism with Tizzard’s Native River, who outstayed Might Bite for Gold Cup glory in 2018.
While the runner-up has struggled for form, Native River’s staying-on third to Clan Des Obeaux – with another Tizzard runner, Thistlecrack, in second – suggests the title-holder won’t give up his crown without a fight.
Clan Des Obeaux is a rising star and must be respected, while it stands to reason that Ruby Walsh has picked Irish Gold Cup hero Bellshill ahead of Willie Mullins stablemates Kemboy, Al Boum Photo and Invitation Only.
Bristol De Mai could win a Gold Cup at Haydock Park, Definitly Red and Double Shuffle are out of their depth and Shattered Love also has questions to answer.
At bigger prices, Anibale Fly was third 12 months ago and wouldn’t be the first horse to return to this great race and go home with a minor medal.
4.10 – St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase
1 HAZEL HILL
2 UCELlO CONTI
3 PACHA DU POLDER
HAZEL HILL, a prolific pointer-to-pointer who is unbeaten in three starts under Rules, fits the bill for the amateurs’ Gold Cup.
The Phil Rowley-trained son of Milan has won 14 of his last 15 outings, his only defeat coming when beaten at odds of 2-11 at picturesque Sandon in North Staffordshire last March.
The 11-year-old made his comeback with a score at Chaddesley Corbett over Christmas, but it was a hunter chase romp at Warwick in January that underlined his credentials for this test.
Ucello Conti during the 2017 Grand National
Ridden as usual by Alex Edwards, Hazel Hill travelled within himself before going to the front at the second-last fence and beating Mr Mix by 11 lengths.
A reproduction of that effort and he will be in the firing line.
Ucello Conti has form that stands up in the context of this race, while dual winner Pacha Du Polder and Shantou Flyer have podium claims.
4.50 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
2 LE PREZIEN
3 BUN DORAN
MARRACUDJA missed out by the minimum margin on his latest start but is handicapped to show to the fore.
Formerly with Paul Nicholls, for whom he recorded a win and a second placing from two runs over fences at Cheltenham, the eight-year-old moved to the 10-time champion trainer’s protégé during the summer.
There wasn’t much to shout about his first three runs – down the field efforts at Perth, Uttoxeter and Chepstow.
But a third to Caid Du Lin to Ascot in November was a step in the right direction, and a nose defeat by Cracking Find at
Wetherby over Christmas was better still.
A British Horseracing Authority rating of 139 compares favourably to his peak perch of 147, and a recent wind operation will ensure Marracudja’s airways are clear for today’s assignment.
Nicholls’ Le Prezien, just 1lb higher than when successful last March, Whatswrongwithyou and Bun Doran head a long list of dangers.
5.30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
1 DEFI BLEU
2 DALLAS DES PICTONS
DEFI BLEU rates the value against favourite – and stablemate – Dallas Des Pictons in the meeting’s new finale.
The playing surface at Leopardstown was almost certainly too fast when the Gordon Elliott trainee returned 11th of 16 to Commander Of Fleet in a Grade 1 novice hurdle last month, and Defi Bleu’s earlier form entitles him to close consideration
The six-year-old son of Saddler Maker followed a maiden hurdle success at Navan with a third, one place behind Getareason, to Easy Game in a Grade 2 event there nine days before Christmas.
And a three-quarter-length second to Derrinross at the same level at Limerick just before the turn of the year makes Conor Brassil’s mount feasibly treated on a British Horseracing Authority rating of 139.
It’s not hard to see why Elliott’s Dallas Des Pictons is a clear market leader, while Pym and Mount Mews are others to throw into the melting pot.
Cheltenham Festival 2019
Day 4 tips and best bets
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Day 3 results in full
Willie Mullins’ stable of horses
Nicky Henderson’s stable of horses
Gordon Elliott’s stable of horses