All eyes will be on Cheltenham on Thursday as the Ladbrokes World Hurdle takes centre-stage on day three of the Festival.
After a sensational start to the four-day extravaganza on Tuesday, punters were not in as much luck on day two and the bookmakers fought back in the Prestbury Park betting war. High profile defeats for Pont Alexandre and Unioniste had the layers jumping for joy and race fans will be hoping for a more successful afternoon on Thursday.
The World Hurdle is the feature on a seven race-card, including the re-scheduled Cross Country Chase, and punters look set for another spellbinding afternoon on the Cotswolds.
If your selection finishes second to the SP favourite in any race at Cheltenham on Thursday, Paddy Power will refund your losing bet.
13:30 Jewson Novices' Chase (Registered As The Golden Miller Novices' Chase) (Grade 2) (5yo+, Class 1, 2m 4f, 13 runners)
Register with William Hill using bonus code C50 and get a free £50 bet on the Jewson Novices' Chase.
The 2013 Jewson Chase kicks off proceedings on Thursday and the presence of Dynaste (13/8, Paddy Power) has changed the whole complexion of the contest.
David Pipe’s market leader has been sent here rather than the RSA Chase on Wednesday and it isn’t hard to see why the bookmakers have him in at such a short price. This trip looks perfect for the grey and the Feltham hero will appreciate the ‘easier’ task in a Grade Two. However, the Grade One winner looks short in the betting and it’s not certain that he has as much in hand as his rating might suggest.
At the prices, it looks like CAPTAIN CONAN
(13/2, William Hill
) could be the one to be on and he has drifted to a very attractive price in recent days. The gelding will be looking for his fifth success in eight starts in Britain and Ireland and with three Grade Ones already to his name, he can add this race to his CV.
Though he wasn’t too impressive in the Scilly Isles Chase in February, trainer Nicky Henderson wasn’t convinced he was at his best that day and the handler thinks we could see the former hurdler in better form at Cheltenham. His jumping is assured and he looks an efficient operator who will appreciate the test at Cheltenham.
Willie Mullins’ Aupcharlie (6/1, William Hill
) commands considerable respect dropping in trip, while the RSA Chase on Wednesday gave a huge form boost to Texas Jack (12/1, Ladbrokes
14:05 Pertemps Final (Listed Handicap Hurdle) (5yo+, Class 1, 3m, 24 runners)
Sam Winner (5/1, William Hill
) has been the long-time ante post favourite for the Pertemps and the fact he is thrown into the race has been the Festival’s worst kept secret in recent weeks.
Paul Nicholls’ Triumph Hurdle fourth brings some top class form to the table and though things haven’t gone to plan for the horse in the last couple of years, he is clearly the pick of the weights.
However, 5/1 looks skinny in a 24 runner race and BALLYBOUGH PAT
) looks a fantastic each-way price for trainer Anthony Honeyball. The five-year-old has always been held in the highest regard by his handler and a mark of 137 certainly looks workable here.
He has been running with great credit in defeat of late and he will relish the three-mile test and big field on Thursday.
Jonjo O’Neill’s Shutthefrontdoor (13/2, Betfred
) continues to be well backed in the build-up to the race and his success at Carlisle last time out was certainly impressive, while Nicky Henderson’s Top Of The Range (16/1, Ladbrokes
) hasn’t been badly treated with a 5lb rise for his victory at Sandown.
Nick Wilby’s selection – Ballybough Pat
14:40 Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy Chase) (Grade 1) (5yo+, Class 1, 2m 5f, 8 runners)
After originally looking like one of the races of the meeting, the Ryanair Chase has now cut up to eight runners and First Lieutenant (11/4, Stan James
) brings top class Irish from to Cheltenham.
The 2011 Neptune Hurdle winner finished second to Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth in last year’s RSA and Mouse Morris’ horse has looked as good as ever so far this season. His second to Tidal Bay in the Lexus Chase was a huge run and he will understandably be popular with favourite backers.
Riverside Theatre (6/1, Ladbrokes
) will be looking to retain his crown in the race after Barry Geraghty somehow managed to get him in the winner’s enclosure twelve months ago, but all has not been well since and there are worries that the track doesn’t suit.
Cue Card, (7/2, bet365
) is likely to set a good gallop in front and he is undoubtedly one of the most talented horses in the field, however he’ll have to jump incredibly well if he is going to win from the front and he could easily set the race up for FOR NON STOP
Nick Williams’ eight-year-old has been overlooked in the betting and he has always threatened to put in a massive display. A strong travelling type with plenty of talent, the selection absolutely sluiced through the field to hammer Wishfull Thinking (23 lengths) at Aintree and he might have even bettered that form when he gave weight to Captian Chris and finished second at Ascot at Ascot.
A line can be drawn through his last run (goes best fresh) and he will appreciate