Cheltenham Festival Betting: Tom Lee's Day Three Tips & Blog

Worn out yet?!

It's a marathon run at sprint pace trying to keep up with developments at Cheltenham, and after a quick pause for half time oranges and a cup of restorative sugary tea, it's time to plunge headlong into day three of the four-day Festival.

It's been brilliant up 'til now, serving up a non-stop supply of stories that the Cheltenham hill and it's dramatic finishes are famed for, but the big question is who'll be crossing the line in front in Thursday's feature World Hurdle (3.20pm)?

It's a division which perhaps lacks the star appeal of the likes of the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase or Gold Cup, but don't let that put you off having a bet as hopefully it'll make it a wee bit easier to unravel!

Cheltenham Festival Of Horse Racing 2015 : News Photo

Paul Nicholls holds a very strong hand with last year's fourth Zarkadar lining up alongside Saphir De Rheu in a two-pronged Ditcheat attack, trying to win a prize they took four years on the bounce with the mighty Big Buck's.

Speaking of whom, Saphir De Rheu is trying to 'do a Big Buck's', reverting to hurdles after proving to be something short of a natural in an aborted chasing career.

It has paid off so far as well, with a win in the Cleeve Hurdle against solid yardstick Reve De Sivola his reward last time out. 

The Cleeve has been a good guide too, with seven of the last 16 winners or second placed horses of this race using that contest as a springboard.

Nicky Henderson's Whisper is interesting too - he won the Coral Cup here 12 months ago and will surely appreciate the return to spring conditions.

However, there's also a very strong Irish challenge, with seven of the declared field of 17 crossing the pond...

The one that really caught my eye during the winter months has been the Sandra Hughes inmate Lieutenant Colonel.

Formerly in the care of the late, great Dessie Hughes, this would be an emotional success if his daughter Sandra could guide this tough and talented horse to Cheltenham glory. 

It could happen too: he was sixth in the Neptune here 12 months ago, and followed up that excellent effort with a Grade 2 win at Fairyhouse at easter. 

Better has followed this season, with a win in Fairyhouse's Grade 1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle at the end of November, followed by a second Grade 1 at Leopardstown at Christmas.

Crucially, that was his first taste of the three mile World Hurdle trip, and unexposed at the distance and perfectly at home on better ground he looks excellent each way value. 

Thursday's feature prize is the Ryanair Chase (2.40pm), a 2m 5f scorcher which has attracted a field of 14. 

Gordon Elliott struck with Cause Of Causes in the National Hunt Chase on Tuesday, and he'll have plenty of well-wishers spurring him on to do the business with jolly Don Cossack, with the eight-year-old Sholokhov gelding chasing a fifth win on the spin.

The one to give him a bloody nose could be the only mare in the field though, with Nicky Henderson's classy operator Ma Filleule value to make her seven pound allowance count.

Cheltenham Festival - Champion Day : News Photo

She used her bold jumping to good effect when taking the Topham at Aintree 12 months ago, and also found only Gold Cup bound Holywell too good when second in handicap company at the Festival last March.

She arrives here off the back of a mighty effort when second to the re-opposing Balder Succes at Ascot, but with that run under her belt she can not only reverse that form, but give team Henderson another win in this race after Fondmort in 2006 and Riverside Theatre in 2012. 

The day sparks into life with the two and a half mile Grade 1 JLT Novices' Chase at 1.30pm, in which i'm expecting Willie Mullins to get his day off to a flying with Vautour.

Last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner, he not only bolted up at Cheltenham, but then followed up at Punchestown over today's distance.

A Christmas-time blip over fences when trailing in down the field at Leopardstown was attributed to a muscle problem, an issue that was no longer present when he coasted home at the same venue last time out.

It's a hot renewal, but I very much doubt Ruby Walsh would swap him for any of his eight rivals. 

The Pertemps Final rolls around at 2.05pm, presenting a fiendish puzzle for punters to try and piece together.

One key component could be Tim Easterby's mare Run Ructions Run.

She has been placed in not one but two Pertemps Qualifiers in recent weeks, including an eye-catching run at Musselburgh, staying on one place ahead of the very well backed Edeymi.

Easterby struck gold with Hawk High at the Festival a year ago, and having recruited Paul Carberry for the ride Run Ructions Run could well be seen powering through beaten horses fast and late. 

Lastly, horses rated below 142 have ruled the roost in the penultimate race of day, with the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (4.00pm) another 24-runner teaser.

There's certainly no lack of previous Cheltenham form on offer with Malcolm Jefferson's Attaglance, who won over hurdles at the Festival in 2012, finished fourth in the November Gold Cup in 2013, and went on to be second in the novices' handicap chase at the Festival 12 months ago. 

He's had a nice break and has slipped back down the weights to an attractive mark. Good luck!


Thursday's best bets:

1.30 - JLT Novices' Chase - 9 Vautour (win)

2.05 - Pertemps Network Final (Hcap Hurdle) - 16 Run Ructions Run (EW)

2.40 - Ryanair Chase - 14 Ma Filleule (EW)

3.20 - Ladbrokes World Hurdle - 8 Lieutenant Colonel (EW)

4.00 - Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate - 13 Attaglance (EW)


Mick Fitzgerald previews Cheltenham Festival: Day Three