But for a short head, Irish trained runners would have completed a clean sweep of all 7 races at Cheltenham yesterday and the trend may continue today.
Centrepiece of Day 3 of the Festival is the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, in which Paisley Park tries to recover the crown taken away last year by 50-1 poke Lisnagar Oscar.
This year the respective prices are 9-4 and 10-1, but we feel they both might struggle to repel the raiders, who provide 6 of the 15 strong field.
Our selection to take this race is Flooring Porter, which is available at 14-1, despite having beaten three of its countrymen which are all shorter in the betting.
Gavin Cromwell‘s 6-y-o won the Grade 1 Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle by a comfortable 6 lengths and may take a deal of catching if allowed to bowl along in front.
The action starts with the Marsh Novices Chase, for which Envoi Allen is prohibitively priced at 4-9. Unbeaten in 4 Bumpers, 4 hurdles and 3 chases, this 7-y-o is viewed as the Irish ‘banker’ of the meeting (as if they needed another one) and is clearly the most likely winner.
However, with an eight runner field, we can’t resist an each way bet on Shan Blue at 12-1.
Regular readers will be aware of our affection for Dan Skelton‘s 7-y-o, for which today’s ground and trip are ideal and its slick jumping might just get the fav at it. That’s the theory, anyway.
The Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at 1.55 looks a pinsticker’s paradise, especially bearing in mind that the handicap hurdles on Day 1 and Day 2 have been won by Irish trained runners at 80-1 and 33-1.
It’s highly likely the Emerald Isle will pouch this one as well, but with more ‘visible’ runners.
Milliner at 7-1 and Mrs Milner at 11-1 are the two we have in mind and suggest each way bets on both.
The Ryanair Chase at 2.30 sees the first five in the betting all trained in Ireland, but, in this race we are gonna take ’em all on with Mister Fisher.
This 7-y-o has long been the apple of NJH‘s optic, but has rarely had its ideal conditions, with winter ground wholly unsuitable, but everything is in place today and this two-time CD winner should be backed each way at 8-1.
At 3.40, we get the simple matter of the 21 runner Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase, headed in the market by The Shunter, trying to land a £100 grand bonus after winning the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso just 12 days ago. At 3-1, this is not for us.
We have two picks, beginning with the 2018 Triumph Hurdle winner Farclas, which is currently trading at 6-1. Ex-Gordon Elliot, this 7-y-o has returned from a long injury break to show its time may be near and this race has the look of a plot.
Another ‘plan’ horse is Dead Right, trained by Neil Mulholland.
Saved for this after winning at Market Rasen in September last year, this horse is very well handicapped on its hurdle form and the ground will be right up its strasser. Have an each way bash at a tasty 28-1.
Final televised race is the Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices Hurdle at 4.15 and we have no hesitation in nominating Royal Kahala as our selection.
Peter Fahey‘s 6-y-o is still improving and, by being narrowly beaten in a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse, avoids having to carry a penalty today.
With usual pilot Kevin Sexton up top, we surely will get a good run for our hard-earned at 11-2.
Lastly, we have to mention our very own horse, Bob Mahler, which runs in the Kim Muir at 4.50. Third in the race last year and lower in the ratings this time, our pride and joy has not been in quite the same form this season, but gets ideal conditions today and we are hoping for an improved performance. At around 20-1, we couldn’t possible suggest a small each way bet – or could we?
Jusqu’a demain, mes amis.
Flooring Porter 3.05 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 14-1 (5 places Paddy)
Shan Blue 1.20 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 12-1
Milliner 1.55 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 7-1 (7 places Skybet)
Mrs Milner 1.55 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 11-1 (7 places Skybet)
Mr Fisher 2.30 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 8-1 (5 places Betfair, Skybet)
Farclas 3.40 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 6-1 (5 places)
Dead Right 3.40 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 28-1 (6 places Paddy, Betfair)
Royal Kahala 4.15 Cheltenham 2pts e/w @ 11-2 (5 places Skybet)