Michael Fortune’s top tips and best bets for Cheltenham Festival Day 3

Un De Sceaux is the one to watch in the Ryanair Chase

Un De Sceaux is the one to watch in the Ryanair Chase

Our expert guides you through Day 3 with his full breakdown on the all the best selections for Day 3 of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

At the risk of being accused of repeating myself, the third day remains the weakest session at the Festival but it has improved in the past few years and the main event is, of course, the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle 

This three-mile test was only introduced as recently as 1972 and while our runners did pretty well in the early years it has been pretty barren territory for Irish horses since Dorans Pride scored back in 1995. 

The only Irish winner in the interim was Charles Byrne’s Solwhit in 2013, and the odds are against our runners this year also.  

DAY 3 RACECARD

1.30 JLT Novices’ Steeple Chase (2m 5f)
2.10 Pertemps Final (Handicap Hurdle) (3m)
2.50 Ryanair Chase (2m 5f)
3.30 Ryanair World Hurdle (3m)
4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable H’cap Chase (2m 5f)
4.50 Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle (2m 1f)
5.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase (3m 1 1/2f)

The strong favourite will be the Harry Fry trained Unowhatimeanharry which was a slow starter but has really blossomed since he moved to his current stable in mid-2015. 

His record since then reads as eight races, eight wins and they include a battling victory in last year’s Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle. 

He has progressed with each race but to be quite honest he hasn’t impressed this scribe as much as he has charmed others. 

Ballyoptic and Zarkander look best of the home challengers but the team of Irish raiders could provide the main opposition to the likely odds-on favourite.

The best of ours will surely be former Champion Hurdler Jezki, Noel Meade’s Snow Falcon and the Willie Mullins duo of Shaneshill and Clondaw Warrior. 

I have little doubt that Jezki would beat Unowhatimeanharry if he were the horse of two years back, but don’t rule him out. Clondaw Warrior could be the ‘springer’ and I can see him cruising as they come down the hill to the turn for home.

Will he get home up that gruelling climb? He is worth a chance each-way but, despite my qualms, Unowhatimeanharry is the likely winner.

TOP TIPS

1.30 – 1 YORKHILL; 2 Politologue, 3 Disko
2.10 – 1 EL BANDIT; 2 Presenting Percy, 3 Isleofhopendreams
2.50 – 1 UN DE SCEAUX; 2, Uxizandre, 3 Empire Of Dirt
3.30 – 1 UNOWHATIMEANHARRY; 2 Clondaw Warrior, 3 Jezki
4.10 – 1 DIAMOND KING; 2 Bouvreuil, 3 Village Vic
4.50 – 1 AIRLIE BEACH (or LET’S DANCE), 2 Forge Meadow, 3 Coillte Lass 
5.30 – 1 SOUTHFIELD ROYALE; 2 Mall Dini, 3 The Crafty Butcher 

The Irish banker on this third day is surely the Mullins-trained Yorkhill in the opening JLT Novice Chase. 

This seven-year-old has only been beaten once under Rules and that was when he had gone over the top at Punchestown last year. 

He moved up to fences this year and, despite a tendency to jump to his left at the fences, he has won both his outings. He has gained an unfair reputation for being a bit kinky but there is no doubt he is a supreme talent.

The way Yorkhill moved after the first three fences in his work out at Leopardstown was quite awesome and, barring a fall, he looks banker material in a race where Noel Meade’s Disko can be his closest rival.  

Another for Mullins and Ruby Walsh on the third day can be Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase. He is a brilliant talent and it is quite possible that this distance of two miles and five furlongs could be his optimum.

A brilliant jumper he has also shown that he is a real battler and he can lead home Uxizandre and Empire Of Dirt.  

Mullins and Walsh can also strike in the Troll House Stud Mares Novice Hurdle with Ruby’s selected of Airlie Beach and Let’s Dance.

BEST BETS:
1.30 Yorkhill
2.50 Un De Sceaux
3.30 Clondaw Warrior
4.50 Airlie Beach

 

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