Cheltenham Festival: Day Three (St Patricks Thursday) Preview & Betting Tips - 14th March 2013

St Patrick’s Thursday is, for many, as much about the party as the racing. With live music, dancing, and a fair few pints of Guinness being sunk, the third day of the Cheltenham Festival will be one of celebration.

Of course, for those who aren’t knee-deep in the festivities, there are some fine races against which you can test whether you have the luck of the Irish. Read on for our betting tips and analysis for day three at the Festival.

1:30 – Jewson Novices´ Chase (Registered as the Golden Miller Novices´ Chase) – Grade 2, 2m4f

Proceedings begin with the Grade 2 Jewson Novices’ Chase, which is in only its third renewal at Cheltenham. Won last year by the highly rated Willie Mullins-trained French seven-year-old Sir Des Champs (who also won the Hennessy Gold Cup this February), it will take a quality horse to triumph here.

Leading the betting at present is another French horse, the David Pipe-trained grey, Dynaste. The seven-year-old managed only eighth place in the World Hurdle at last year’s Festival, but this season he has taken to chases like a duck to water and has won three out of three, each time stepping up in class.

The first of Dynaste’s wins this term came at Cheltenham in the Steel Plate and Sections Novices’ Chase in November ahead of Fingal Bay. The second was a Grade 2 novices’ chase at Newbury, while last time out he stepped up to Grade 1 with aplomb, winning by nine lengths ahead of Hadrian’s Approach at the Kauto Star Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton. He is available at 7/4 with Bet365 and he is in with a great chance.

The second-favourite, at 5/1 with SkyBet and others, is Captain Conan. The six-year-old from the Nicky Henderson stable – which is packed to bursting with Cheltenham prospects – is unbeaten this season having been victorious on three occasions, including a Grade 2 two-mile chase at Cheltenham in November. He could well be the main challenger to Dynaste in this one.

There are plenty of contenders nipping at the heals of the top two, however, and for an each way option, take a gander at Argocat, who is 14/1 with Betfred. He won a Grade 2 novices’ chase at Limerick last time out by an impressive eight-length margin, and has appeared at the Festival before (albeit managing only ninth in the juvenile handicap hurdle). He’s definitely in with a chance of placing.

Offers On This Race:

  • Place a £10 bet on the Jewson Novices Chase and Coral will give you a £10 free bet to use on whatever you like. Details.
  • Back a winner at odds of 4/1 or more and get a free bet to use on the Handical Hurdle at 2:05. Read our summary or claim this offer from Bet365.

2:05 – Pertemps Final (A Handicap Hurdle) – Listed Race, 3m

This three-mile listed race is often used by trainers as a final run out before the Grand National and there are a couple of National entries who will be running here, and with a fair chance of success.

The favourite as things stand is the French six-year-old Sam Winner. With only two hurdle wins from nine and having fallen twice this season we can only assume the favourite’s tag is because Ruby Walsh is in the saddle. Whatever the reason, at just 4/1 with Coral, we’re steering clear.

In a handicap such as this we are inclined to look for each way value rather than attempt to pick a winner, and our main tip on that front is seven-year-old Captain Sunshine. Priced at a standout 20/1 with Ladbrokes, the Emma Lavelle-trained gelding won a novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham last April and placed second of 18 runners last time out at Newbury when carrying 11-3. With a handicap of 10-13 here we think he has what it takes to get a place.

Offers On This Race:

2:40 – Ryanair Chase (Registered as the Festival Trophy Chase) – Grade 1, 2m5f

The first Grade 1 of the day, the Festival Trophy Chase was introduced to the Festival in 2005 and has been classified as Grade 1 since 2008. Imperial Commander, Albertas Run and Riverside Theatre are all recent winners, the latter two of which are here again today to give it another shot.

Over a distance of two miles and five furlongs, this year’s race looks like being a three-way tussle between Riverside Theatre, Cue Card and First Lieutenant, with the latter having been backed in to become the 11/4 favourite with Coral.

We prefer the look of the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card, however. He won a Grade 1 chase at Ascot last time out, was second in last year’s Arkle (only beaten by the exceptional talent of Spriter Sacre) and fourth in the Surpreme Novices’ Hurdle the year before. He has form and a good Festival history, and looks a very good price at 10/3 with Bet365.

Offers On This Race:

3:20 – Ladbrokes World Hurdle – Grade 1, 3m

The feature race of the day, the World Hurdle has been all about the Paul Nicholls- trained Big Buck’s in recent years: the French gelding has won this one in each of the last four renewals. Thankfully for the rest of the horses whose trainers fancy a pop at this one, Big Buck’s is out for the season with injury, so the chance is there to fill the void.

Near the top of the betting and well-fancied at 4/1 (with Stan James and others) is Oscar Whisky. The Irish eight- year-old was fifth in this race last season, but was fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2010) and third in the Champion Hurdle (2011) so has good Cheltenham experience. The big question mark, however, was his last run in which he was beaten by a neck by Reve De Sivola, who is is available at the same price with Bet365.

They were each carrying the same weight that day (as they will be here of course) and they are clearly well-matched. Reve De Sivola also has good experience at this course (including a second place in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle in 2010 and third in a handicap chase the following year) and might just be the better option here at slightly longer odds of 9/2 with Totesport and others.

If you want to back a horse at a higher price, take a look at Bog Warrior - 8/1 with Bet365 - who has some decent recent form under his belt having won his last three.

Offers On This Race:

4:00 – Byrne Group Plate (A Handicap Chase) – Grade 3, 2m5f

Another handicap that is tough to assess and – depending how your bets have been going - perhaps even worth giving it a miss altogether.

Of course, we’ll still be giving it a shot and our main tip at this stage is the Willie Mullins-trained Sweet My Lord, who has been backed in significantly and is now priced at 10/1 with BetVictor and others. Given his form has not been outstanding of late we can only assume there have been some big bets from pros or those connected to the horse, which could indicate he’s about to pull off a shock victory.

Offers On This Race:

  • Stick an each way bet on this race and if your selection finished just outside the money (5th), Betfred will refund the losing place portion of your bet as a free bet (max £200). Click here to claim this offer from Betfred.
  • If your horse comes second to Ballynagour in this race, you'll get your money back as a free bet worth up to £200. Click here to claim this offer from Coral.
  • Back a winner at odds of 4/1 or more and get a free bet to use on the Triumph Hurdle that takes place tomorrow at 1:30. Read our summary or claim this offer from Bet365.

4:40 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase – Amateur Riders, 3m1f110y

This race is for amateur riders, and is often a bit of a dumping ground for horses
pulled out of other more prestigious races at the Festival.

The favourite for this one is Super Duty, priced at 11/2 with Coral. The Irish seven-year-old won at Cheltenham in a novices’ chase in December, but was second in the three races preceding and the one after so we wonder whether he has the winning instinct.

Instead we are backing David Pipe’s No Secrets, who has won his last two and looks a big price at 14/1 with SkyBet. Certainly worth a small each way punt.

5:15 - Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country Chase) – 3m7f

The final race of the day is slotted in here after being postponed from the opening day. This Cross Country Chase is a monster of a handicap in which there are 32 obstacles to clear

Arabella Boy is the bookies’ leading light at present, available at 9/2 with Bet365. He unseated his rider on his last visit to Cheltenham, but should have enough to do the business here if he can keep his composure.

An outsider who might tempt a few is Leac Un Scail, priced at 25/1 with BetVictor and others. Carrying just 10-0, the French 12-year-old might be getting on a bit, but he was third in a cross country chase at this course in December and second last time out in a handicap hurdle. Worth an each way bet we reckon.

Individual Race Previews & Betting Tips

We also go into more detail for a couple of the St Patricks Thursday races, which you can find links to below: