Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 Cheltenham Festival - Day 3 Preview

2020 Cheltenham Festival - Day 3 Preview

Jockeys ride horses

Neil Morrice brings us his in-depth analysis of the third day of the Cheltenham Festival. 

Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 

NOT surprising that connections of 2015 Champion Hurdle winner FAUGHEEN opted for this contest in favour of the longer RSA yesterday and their move has been vindicated with only 11 taking on the veteran who is three from three since going over fences in the evening of his career. More than once he’s looked in trouble only to pull the race out of the fire and the stands will erupt if Paul Townsend guides him to victory.

Against this, Nicky Henderson could have played Champ but the trainer decided to field MISTER FISHER who at six is exactly half the age of Faugheen. Furthermore, Mister Fisher has looked better in his recent races, having cosily taken down Al Dancer in a Grade 1 at Doncaster. He has to be taken seriously.

ITCHY FEET’s name has been barked over the course with increasing confidence to provide trainer Olly Murphy with a first Festival triumph. He was very impressive in his Sandown trial and like Mister Fisher has sound claims of completing a fine hat-trick.

Following him home that day was MIDNIGHT SHADOW who briefly looked like prevailing and did nothing wrong. Sue Smith’s charge won over hurdles here and is no forlorn hope. It wouldn’t surprise me if he posted a welcome Festival success for the North.

SAMCRO looked the real deal when landing the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle two years ago but regressed to the chagrin of trainer Gordon Elliott who revealed he could never get him right last season. The gelding went out like a light when odds-on behind Faugheen at Limerick and has a major turnaround to pull out of the bag.

Predicted Finish


2nd Faugheen

3rd Mister Fisher

4th Itchy Feet

5th Samcro

Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

NICKY Henderson describes WELSH SAINT as “the best handicapped” of his Cheltenham runners which for me is a magnetic statement. This has been on the gelding’s radar for quite a while and I liked the way he jumped, travelled and then delivered at Haydock last month, running out a well supported and authoritative winner.

A wave of Irish-trained horses lies in wait of whom Colm Murphy’s mare RELEGATE is very interesting and looks just as much of a plot. The 7yo has few miles on the clock and when returning from a lengthy absence at Punchestown kept on in eye-catching fashion to trouble the judge. She’s been the subject of a sustained gamble and heads the Hollywoodbets market.

Gordon Elliott has a dual assault on the prize with a preference for THE STORYTELLER over the 2019 winner SIRE DU BERLAIS. The former looked like he was on a readying mission when just out of the money in a warm race at Leopardstown and his trainer reckons today could be D-Day.

Colin Tizzard has brought KILBRICKEN STORM out of the wilderness to show glimpses of his old ability and this former Festival winner over hurdles has a live Each Way chance. Others to include in all exotics are hat-trick seekers THIRD WIND and SKANDIBURG.

Predicted Finish:


2nd Relegate

3rd The Storyteller

4th Kilbricken Storm

5th Third Wind

6th Skandiburg

Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 

THE Day 3 feature sees MIN trying to end a Festival hoodoo that’s seen him follow the shadow of Altior on no fewer than three occasions. However this year Altior is not around and Willie Mullins’ charge is stepping up in trip., while when scoring by 20 lengths at Aintree last April the gelding made the running on similarly soft ground to record a fourth win at two and a half miles. He did nothing wrong against Chacon Pour Soi at Leopardstown last month and is the one to beat.

Henry De Bromhead’s A PLUS TARD was a wide margin winner of the novices’ handicap chase here last season and has progressed from race to race in three outings this term. He beat Chacun Pour Soi when last seen at Leopardstown and has been kept fresh since that December triumph.

FRODON and Bryony Frost brought the house down when landing this in 2019 and I expect the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding to again try to dominate. He’s been trained specifically with a repeat in mind, running well 8n all three starts and latterly opening his account for the season at Kempton. A tendency to jump left shouldn’t be a hindrance here.

The joker in the pack is undoubtedly RIDERS ONTHE STORM whose been a breath of fresh air to Nigel Twiston-Davies since joining the Cotswolds trainer from Ireland. His strong gallop and superb jumping had taken out Cyrname when he was gifted victory in a Grade 1 at Ascot to complete a superb hat-trick. If ridden with a tad more restraint, he can be a threat to all.

Of the double-figure priced contenders SAINT CALVADOS could be the surprise package given how well he’s been going at home.

Predicted Finish:


2nd Min

3rd A Plus Tard

4th Frodon

5th Saint Calvados

Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

PLENTY take on reigning champion PAISLEY PARK who to all intents and purposes is bombproof. The 8yo is an 8-13 chance to stretch his impressive sequence of wins for trainer Emma Lavelle and jockey Aidan Coleman, and having delivered with plenty up his sleeve in the Cleeve Hurdle here in January is in the A-1 position to retain a crown that shows no sign of slipping. Only the questionable form of the Lavelle stable casts any shadow, but that was the case in 2019 when he bolted up.

SUMMERVILLE BOY gave him most to do on trials day and the former Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner rates a must for swingers and exactas. Tom George has done well to bring his gelding back from the edge of oblivion with two high profile wins before that latest excellent run in defeat.

The Warren Greatrex-trained EMITOM is fresh and fancied off just two outings this season and has to be respected. He landed some good bets in a Grade 1 at Haydock, overcoming a flat spot turning in to score with any amount in hand.

PENHILL has a solid look for minor pickings at the least and has improved from race to race for owner Tony Bloom and trainer Willie Mullins. I liked the way he stayed on into the money at Navan and that should have put the cutting edge on him.

If there was to be an upset L’AMI SERGE could provide it. The enigmatic performer has abundant ability to in the mood to produce it but as he showed at Ascot, when throwing away a tilt-edged winning chance on the run in, he is risky.

Predicted Finish:


2nd Penhill

3rd Summerville Boy

4th Emitom

5th L’Ami Serge

Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Following the clear cut triumph of Imperial Aura here on Tuesday, SIMPLY THE BETTS has continued to shorten for this and Harry Whittington’s charge has a very appealing profile. He is three from four this season and jumped superbly to trounce the former over this course and distance in January. Now he steps out of novice company for the first time and he’s in the form of his life. He’s a horse that could easily go on to better things, and can land a huge gamble in a race his trainer’s grandfather Colin Nash came close to winning with Roadster way back in 1986.

MISTER WHITAKER is a three times winner round here, including at this meeting two years ago, and can be forgiven his poor run in the Cotswold Chase here last time as he doesn’t get three miles. He could easily defy his 14-1 odds and have a big say in the outcome.

CLONDAW CASTLE is another roughie that can earn as he’s a fresh horse after only three outings this season. He powered home at Warwick to earn his ticket for this and deserves respect.

LA BAGUE AU ROI is capable of a big run but hasn’t looked the horse of old so far this season, even though he effort when just out of the money in the Irish Gold Cup was more encouraging.

Irish hopes are held mainly by BEN DUNDEE who looks to have been laid out for this by Gordon Elliott and has been backed accordingly.

Predicted Finish:


2nd Mister Whitaker

3rd Clondaw Castle

4th La Bague Au Roi

5th Ben Dundee

Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

Willie Mullins has made his mark in this and COLREEVY, DOLCITA and CONCERTISTA give him another big combined live chance. The trio have been popular in the betting market the last-named mare arguably has the best form on offer, with plenty to like about her placed run behind Black Tears at Leopardstown. Colreevy and DOLCITA were second and third in a Fairyhouse Grade 3 but were readily brushed aside by MINELLA MELODY who has a penalty to shrug aside as she attempts to complete a four timer for Henry De Bromhead. Nicky Henderson’s FLORESSA ran well behind th3 smart Lady Buttons at Doncaster and could improve for that appealing run.

Predicted Finish


2nd Floressa

3rd Concertista

4th Colreevy

5th Dolcita

Fluke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (Class 2)

THE one that has been banded about more than any other through the week is the Philip Hobbs-trained DEISE ABA who is on a hat-trick as well as having the adept steering of top jock Will Biddick. The gelding would be a popular scorer for owner Trevor Hemmings.

Scottish National third CLOTH CAP is a second strong to the Hemmings bow and clearly laid out for the prize by Jonjo O’Neill. The 8yo looks big value at his current odds and wasn’t at his best when edged out at Doncaster by My Old Gold. He’s better than that run suggests.

CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM is owned by JP McManus and trained by Nicky Henderson. He wasn’t in the same league as Itchy Feet at Sandown but that was a very warm race.

PLAN OF ATTACK is closely matched with FITZHENRY and I like the look of the latter for an earning run as he was unlucky when badly hampered at Leopardstown the other day.

Predicted Finish:


2nd Champagne Platinum

3rd Cloth Cap

4th Fitzhenry

5th Plan Of Attack

Cheltenham Day 4 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 

TWO horses with almost identical profiles help head the market for the juvenile hurdling championship. Front runners ALLMANKIND and GOSHEN are both unbeaten in three and the former has no reason to worry about CERBERUS who he beat by nine lengths at Chepstow in December. His trainer Harry Skelton reckons this could be the best he’s trained, while Gary Moore is glowing in his praise for Goshen, even though the gelding might prefer the race to be on a right-handed track.

Also vying for favouritism is the former French-based SOLO who looked something out of the ordinary when hacking up in a recognised trial at Kempton. To the naked eye that was a very special performance and afforded the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding a towering mark that only another convincing win would justify. It was Solo’s first run out of Ditcheat and the question is whether he can stage a repeat on the biggest stage. ASPIRE TOWER is the highest-rated of the Irish runners but the jury is out as to whether he would have won at Leopardstown last month but for falling at the final flight.

A WAVE OF THE SEA may also serve his country well, having grittily landed the spoils in his trial for this at the same course.

Predicted Finish:


2nd Solo

3rd Cerberus

4th Goshen

5th Aspire Tower

6th A Wave Of The Sea

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