Tom Lee's Cheltenham Festival Tips: Day 3 - Thistlecrack Can Fly In The Ryanair World Hurdle


If day one belonged to the punters then the bookies undoubtedly exacted a fair dollop of revenge on Wednesday afternoon, getting the better of the tug of war as they watched high profile favourites Yanworth, More Of That and Un De Sceaux all bowled out without inflicting any damage. 

That said, the latter has to be right up there with the great moments in Festival history, a real 'I was there' scenario, as the 'Black Aeroplane' Sprinter Sacre returned to his magnificent best in the feature Queen Mother Champion Chase, swooping past Un De Sceaux and charging up the run-in to a truly raucous reception.

National Hunt racing might not be everyone's cup of tea, but few other sports can illicit such euphoria en-masse, with Sprinter Sacre crowning an extraordinary comeback from heart troubles to win the prize he also took in 2013. 

It was akin to watching a much-loved, universally-adored, but also widely condemned, doubted and dismissed Heavyweight boxer make a sensational but unlikely comeback to the ring, blazing back to his brilliant best. Great stuff!

Can Thursday put on a show to match? Cheltenham being Cheltenham, they'll try...

Local trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies banged in a 53/1 day two double yesterday, courtesy of Blaklion in the RSA and Ballyandy in the Champion Bumper, and he'll be hoping for a bold show from Bristol De Mai in the opening JLT Novices' Chase (1.30pm). 

Huntingdon Races : News Photo

The five-year-old is on a four-timer, but could come up short againt Garde La Victoire for the Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson combo. 

Previously thought about as an Arkle horse, Garde La Victore steps up in trip here rather than take on Douvan in the Arkle, and he could be rewarded with a fourth career win at the track.

He's got stacks of good form in the book, including when handing out a seven-length beating to Bristol De Mai at Uttoxeter in October. 

Next up it's the Pertemps Final at 2.10pm, an always tricky heat where Richard Johnson could again be the solution, as he gets the leg-up on If In Doubt.

Also very useful over fences, he was fifth in the RSA Chase behind Don Poli 12 months ago, but after a couple of tame efforts over the larger obstacles he has returned to hurdling with real zest, bolting up in a Pertemps Qualifier at Wincanton in December. 

Colin Tizzard Stable Visit : News Photo

Freshened up for this assignment, the horse who was ninth in this race in 2014 can do better now and he looks a tasty each way bet, especially with his stamina assured and proven form on spring ground. 

The big race of the day is the Ryanair World Hurdle (3.30pm), in which I can't wait to see Thistlecrack strut his stuff. 

Beaten only once since he was upped to three miles last April, he can kick-start a massive 24 hours for his trainer Colin Tizzard, who also has Cue Card to come in Friday's Gold Cup. 

Thistlecrack had no problem routing the opposition in his trial race at this track at the end of January, and won't mind switching to a quicker surface. 

Cheltenham Festival - Ladies Day : News Photo

Finally, keep your eyes peeled for a David Pipe-trained horse, Kings Palace, in the Stable Plate Handicap Chase at 4.10pm. 

Stable jockey Tom Scudamore opts for him over two decent stablemates, and don't forget that this horse was originally thought of as a Ryanair Chase contender this time around, having been strongly fancied two years on the bounce at this meeting.

Fingers crossed this is the year he comes good!

Good luck!

 

Tom's best bets with Unibet on day three:

1.30 - 4 Garde La Victoire (win)

2.10 - 4 If In Doubt (each way)

3.30 - 11 Thistlecrack (win)

4.10 - 4 Kings Palace (each way)