Cheltenham Festival Thursday – Football & Racing News – Star Sports

The theme of the Festival so far – bar El Fabiolo’s misstep in the Champion Chase – has been Willie Mullins’ incredible domination, with the historic achievement of 100 winners reached in the bumper yesterday, although Henry de Bromhead and Rachel Blackmore have once again struck at the big meeting and Star ambassador Harry Skelton landed a brilliant handicap double, writes WILLIAM KEDJANYI..

Click here to read all about his chances today – and reaction to yesterday!

Day 3 promises to be the most competitive of the meeting so far, with three of the week’s toughest handicaps, a brilliant renewal of the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, and 3 Grade 1’s with favourites who face stiff competition. Let’s get stuck in!

Be sure to check out our SPLIT SECOND offer which provides you with 50% of your stake back as a FREE BET if your horse finishes second in 3 races today!

1.30 Cheltenham – Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller) 2m4f

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The theme of the Festival so far has been Irish domination in conditions (they’ve won all nine so far) with a rearguard action from the Skeltons and they have a strong chance of giving Britain a Graded winner in the shape of Grey Dawning, who has every chance in the opener at


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A promising novice hurdler, he was outbattled on his Exeter debut when needing the run but hasn’t looked back since, slamming good opposition in a Graduation chase at Haydock and then being unlucky not to reel in Ginny’s Destiny when he smashed the second last over course and distance in December. He was better when streaking clear in the Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick last time (albeit with the race falling apart a tad), and if he can put in a clear round here, then he has every chance of reversing December’s form with Ginny’s Destiny (another leading contender) on 3lbs better terms.

Facile Vega, who has been crying out for a step up to this distance, is his main rival for the all-conquering Mullins stable after finishing third in the Irish Arkle last time and should put in a bold bid here, whilst Iroko is a horse of immense talent but one who’s hard to fancy based on a preparation involving just one chase run and an injury that was called season ending a few weeks ago.

2.10 Cheltenham – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) 3m

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A host of chances here, with much support for Le Milos after the Skelton double whilst Cleatus Poolaw and Gaoth Chuil also very popular for the Irish challenge. As one would expect for a handicap of this type there are any amount of possible winners, but no standout that made enough appeal to put up. Those looking for placepot selections could do worse than looking at Popova and Gaoth Chuil, whilst Newbury 1-2 Emitom and Kyntara can have strong cases made for them.

2.50 Cheltenham – Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy) 2m4½f

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A wide-open race here where the ground has gone against Banbridge, who would have been a strong selection if not for the deluge that’s hit the track in recent days. Envoi Allen was a commanding winner of this last year and holds a favourite’s chance after his great run in the Down Royal Champion Chase, but one can give strong each/way chances to every horse in the field on their best form and at 7/2 he’s the right price.

Fil Dor, the youngest horse in the field, is of real interest stepping back up in trip and could well be overpriced, whilst Conflated – who was running a good race when falling two out in the 2022 renewal – has really strong each/way prospects. He wasn’t far behind Envoi Allen at Down Roya in the Champion Chase and ran big races when unseating at the last in the Savills and the Irish Gold Cup; a clear round and he shouldn’t be far away.

3.30 Cheltenham – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m

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The market has solidly settled on Teahupoo, who was third last season – and unlucky in the eyes of some – when behind Sire Du Berlais and Dashel Drasher and comes back here a year stronger after a much lighter prep, beating Impaire Et Passe in the Hatton’s Grace. Everything looks right for him but at 7/4 with starsports.bet nothing’s being given away in a very open renewal.

Few horses in the field are improving but one of them is Crambo at


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, who relished every yard of the stiff three miles at Ascot when just getting the better of Paisley Park (Dashel Drasher, Champ behind), and atoning for a frustrating defeat off 139 at Haydock in a valuable handicap when he was tapped for toe at a crucial stage.

That shouldn’t happen here with at least two front runners in the field and Cheltenham’s new course should suit him down to the ground, allowing him to hit and sustain top gear, and he can improve on the bare form of that Long Walk on just his second three mile start. Paisley Park represented the bare form of that contest well when almost giving 6lbs to Noble Yeats (another contender here) in the Cleeve Hurdle on Trials Day and all looks set for a big run.

Paisley Park has an each/way chance but has found one too good three times this season (even if by a short head at worst) and he, Crambo, and Dashel Drasher have surely hit their peaks. Sire du Berlais shocked the Festival when landing this race last year and has to be given a chance although he’ll be a year older now whilst Home By The Lee and Flooring Porter will have their chances but could compromise eachother with their front running styles. Sir Gerhard was a smooth winner at Punchestown but his stamina is very much unproven.

4.10 Cheltenham – TrustATrader Plate Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 2m4½f

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Two British novices could hold the key to this with Crebilly having a huge chance at


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She delivered a monstrous display to beat Butcher Hollow by 15 lengths on her debut over Christmas and showed plenty of pace when running out an impressive winner of the Solerina at Punchestown last time.

The runner up has disappointed since but she’d previously finished second to the very smart Jetara (Grade 1 third last time) whilst Jade de Grugy beat the fourth home further than Jetara had managed, and she just edges the vote over Brighterdaysahead, who has impressed hugely in her three slick wins over hurdles.

5.30 Cheltenham – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (Sponsored By JRL Group) 3m2f

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Many shrewd types like Inothewayurthinkin, who’s bred to enjoy a step up in trip and has lots of strong novice form, although he was disappointing – even allowing for his mid race hampering – at Leopardstown last time and he’s surely far too short at 10/3 with starsports.bet at the time of writing.

A couple of horses bring incredibly strong handicap form here, starting with Where It All Began at a current price of


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. He looked like a transformed horse when stepped upto 3m3f at Punchestown for the Grand National Trial last time, smashing the incredibly well handicapped We’llhavewan (4lbs lower mark over fences than hurdles, having won listed handicap hurdle by 10 lengths last time out) and Clonmeen (dual handicap chase winner) by 16 and 21 lengths respectively. Few will be staying better at the finish and a 13lbs rise for a 16 length win is fair.

Angels Dawn is 11lbs higher than she was last year when winning this by a neck, but she’s since finished sixth in the Irish National and third in the Thyestes over fences and a repeat of those performances entitles her to be bang there at the end at


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Whacker Clan was going to make the final two, but his best form – especially a comprehensive defeat of Twig, who was second in the Ultima on Tuesday – has come on good ground. Whilst he was a winner on soft ground at Wexford in August 2023, that was over a shorter trip and he was decidedly less impressive than he was there. The better the ground gets, the more his chances would increase.

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Author: Eugene Morris