Ruby Walsh on Un De Sceaux in action during the 2.50 Ryanair Chase

Cheltenham Tips | Day 3

Racing journalist James Stevens talks us through his fancies from Thursday’s card at the Cheltenham Festival.


13:30 JLT Novice Chase

I am quite keen on the chances of Terrefort for Nicky Henderson in what looks a very open JLT this year. He is a horse that has looked smart in two victories this season, and the form of his Grade One victory looks quite good. The soft ground at Cheltenham will really suit him, and I think the pace of the race will suit his running style too. He is a horse that connections are really confident about, and he should be able to run a big race. Finian’s Oscar is another I like. A return to form would see him feature in this contest and I’ll back him each way.


14:10 Pertemps Network Final

I have been keeping a close eye on Forza Milan Win – Mall Dini, EW – Sugar Baron from Jonjo O’Neill’s yard and I really think he is well handicapped for this contest. He has finished second in his last two starts, in races that look quite strong and I think there should be a fair bit more to come. The conditions of this race, the ground and Cheltenham’s undulating track should all work in his favour and I would imagine he will run a big race at a fair price. Sykes is another who has been running well on this type of ground. He looks well handicapped and has each-way value.


14:50 Ryanair Chase

The Ryanair Chase doesn’t look very strong this year, and the stand out candidate is Un De Sceaux. Willie Mullins’ ten-year-old is a real star and on all recent form should take this rather comfortably. His Clarence House win last time was encouraging, and he always runs a good race in his visits to Cheltenham. The soft ground isn’t too much of a concern, and I expect him to reclaim his prize here.


15:30 Stayers Hurdle

What a really open race this is, and trust me it is such a tough one trying to pick one out. The one I like most is Yanworth for Alan King. He reverts back over hurdles after a good campaign as a novice chaser, but he was always a hugely classy hurdler and he has the ability to run a big race here. The conditions of the track may go against some of his rivals, but Yanworth will relish it. I expect him to go very close. Unowhatimeanharry is a really good each-way bet. He is a consistent runner and Harry Fry reports him in great shape ahead of the race.


16:10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

I have always been a really big fan of Paul Nicholls’ Movewiththetimes, and quite frankly he just hasn’t delivered. Over fences he has run some good races, including a run here behind Tuesday’s winner Coo Star Sivola. The ground isn’t ideal but he should handle it, and he always seems to run a good race at Cheltenham. He is a very exciting prospect, with lots of potential and he can hand Nicholls a first winner of the meeting.


16:50 Mares Novice Hurdle

Willie Mullins really rates Laurina, and she has always been one of his leading chances of a winner at this year’s Festival. Her two victories for the Irish trainer have both been impressive and professional and she is hard to oppose here. It’s hard not to be impressed by the manner of which she has won her races, and she really looks like a smart mare. Her form is in a different league than today’s rivals and she should go very close. Countister is an each-way bet. Nicky Henderson likes this mare an awful lot.


17:30 Kim Muir

Mall Dini won the Pertemps at the Festival back in 2016, and this handicapper could strike again at the Festival for Patrick Kelly. He has been running well all season, and remains open to potential on this current mark. The track and ground are ideal and he is capable of a big run. Sugar Baron ran exceptionally well in a similar event here back in November, and could build on that effort here.


James Stevens’ Day 3 Picks

13:30 – Terrefort (win) & Finian’s Oscar (each way)

14:10 – Forza Milan (win) & Sykes (each way)

14:50 – Un De Sceaux (win)

15:30 – Yanworth (win) & Unowhatimeanharry (each way)

16:10 – Movewiththetimes (win)

16:50 – Laurina (win) & Countister (each way)

17:30 – Mall Dini (win) & Sugar Baron (each way)