Betting Tips

Charlie McCann's Horse Racing Tips for Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival

Imperial Alcazar to reward EW support in the Plate

It is a big day for local yard of the excellent Fergal O’Brien 

For all Wednesday’s drama, and it was another profitable day, I thought Day 2 of the Festival was unsatisfactory with the heavy ground lending itself to slow motion finishes and form which may be questionable going forward.

Tiger Roll, as expected, went out all guns blazing but the fact that the X-Country Chase was arguably, the highlight of the day – why boo the winner? I would suggest it was an unsatisfactory day. I appreciate connections of L’Homme Presse or Energumene would disagree but I  just thought it was an underwhelming day after Super Tuesday. 

1.30 Turners Novices’ Chase

Only four go to post for the opening Grade 1 Novice Chase over the intermediate trip of 2m 3f+, but the quartet include the equine stars Bob Olinger (1.30) and Galopin Des Champs and I just feel Rachel Blackmore will be able to sit on the tail of the Willie Mullins horse before unleashing her mount’s potent tun of foot. 

The win of Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle put to bed any notion that the Henry De Bromhead yard were out of sorts, and I wonder if Bob Olinger – so impressive when winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last year – would have been aimed at the Champion Hurdle this season had he not been housed in the same barn as Honeysuckle?

Bob’s fencing has not been as electric as that of Galopin Des Champs in his two chase successes to date, but I loved the turn of foot he showed when winning at Punchestown last time. I did not think I would desert Galopin Des Champs until he met with defeat, but I think Bob Olinger will have too much pace in a fascinating opener on Day 3. 

Recommendation: Bob Olinger 1.30 at Evens with BetVictor      

2.10 Pertemps Handicap Hurdle

Two against the field in the Pertemps. We have already nailed our colours to the Alaphilippe (2.10) mast for this 3m handicap hurdle and I see no reason to desert him now with Wednesday’s rain considered a plus.  I thought the EW recommendation ran an eye-catching prep race at Warwick for local trainer Fergal O’Brien who has had such a memorable season but has yet to saddle a Festival winner. Until now, I hope.

At the time of writing Harry Fry’s last seven runners have finished 3322211 and I am going to throw another dart at a big price on If The Cap Fits (2.10) despite the fact that his profile – 10-year-old – is not one you normally associate with the race. Indeed, there has only been one 10-y-o win the race – Buena Vista in 2011 – since its inception in 1974. 

The EW selection has not won over timber for the best part of three years, but he is a former Grade 1 winner – Liverpool Hurdle April 2019 – who will appreciate underfoot conditions and will carry just 10st given leading amateur Ben Bromley takes off a valuable 7lbs. The yard could not be in better form, he has run well here in the past and there is 28/1 available. 

The 7lbs claim of Rob James aboard Sire Du Berlais gives this former dual winner of the race every chance of a hat-trick but he has been put up in every Festival preview night and his price has contracted dramatically over the last week.

Recommendation: Already advised Alaphillipe EW 2.10 12/1 – now 7/1 Bet365 7 places

If The Cap Fits EW 2.10 at 28/1 with William Hill 6 places     

2.50 Ryanair Chase

Harry Skelton is due to give Shan Blue a good ride having given him a shocker in the Turners’ Novices’ Chase – was the Marsh – here last year and I didn’t think it was his finest hour when the horse fell when clear at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall on his reappearance. This is his optimum trip, but Allaho is my favourite horse in training, and I will be surprised if he does not follow up last year’s stunning win in the corresponding race.

Allaho has won both starts so far this season on right-handed tracks, but he is even better going anti-clockwise, and he is impossible to oppose. I have heard a lot of nonsense spoken about the horse saying that he should run in the Gold Cup if he wants to be considered a great, but he didn’t stay in the RSA Chase a couple of years ago so why should Mullins try and snap the elastic?

That said, at a best price of 4/6 at the time of writing with bet365 he is overlooked, and I have supported Conflated (2.50) in the market without the odds-on favourite.

The selection won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last time and there has been much debate in the build up to the race as to which race, he should contest this week. The debate suggested that trainer Gordon Elliot’s preferred race was tomorrow’s Gold Cup with owner Michel O’Leary favouring the Ryanair – a race he sponsors.

It was not a vintage Irish Gold Cup he won last month but he jumped and travelled like a quality animal and could be called the winner from some way out. His best form is with plenty of cut in the ground and that exactly what he will get. 

Recommendation: Conflated without Allaho 3.30 at 5/2 with BetVictor 

3.30 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

This is a much better renewal of the Stayers’ Hurdle than the one Flooring Porter won 12 months ago with Thyme Hill and Champ (3.30) in the field and previous winner Paisley Park bouncing back to his best form when winning the Cleeve Hurdle last time. 

Flooring Porter may struggle on the forecast soft ground to make all, and the EW vote goes to Champ (3.30) who has long been my fancy for the race. I take him to reverse recent course form with Paisley Park although the latter ran a remarkable race to win in the circumstances given he gave the rest of the field a ten lengths start when whipping round as the tapes rose. I don’t think that was Champ’s running, however, and the first day double for the Nicky Henderson yard – put a line through Shishkin – suggests the stable are peaking at just the right time.

Champ had previously looked very good back over timber when beating Thyme Hill in the Long Walk Hurdle and a repeat of that performance would make him very hard to beat. His record at the Festival reads 21P and you can put a line through his run in the Gold Cup 12 months ago when he didn’t jump a twig. The stats say 10-y-old Champ cannot win – too old – but 10 wins from just 17 starts shows what a talented horse he is, and I am prepared to overlook his Cleeve run.

Recommendation: Champ 3.30 EW at 5/1 with bet365 4 places

4.10 Craft Whisky Plate

The rain came in spades for the Philip Hobbs trained Celebre D’Allen yesterday and he must go close, but my two against the field are The Glancing Queen and Imperial Alcazar (4.10) with preference for the latter despite the fact that Ireland have trained the winner of the corresponding event four times in the last six years.

The Glancing Queen has been excellent over fences so far this term, and she will love underfoot conditions, but I hope this is a red-letter day for the excellent O’Brien. The selection has been raised 8lbs for scoring by 10L over C&D last time and there is no question that this is his optimum trip as he looked a non stayer – albeit on terrible ground – at Chepstow on his penultimate start.

He might have to be a Graded chaser in this handicap if he is to carry 11st 9lbs to victory – but I believe that is the case. I remember backing the horse at Haydock in a valuable 3m handicap hurdle on Betfair Chase day a couple of years ago when he tanked his way through the race before failing to get home. He remains a horse of tremendous potential and is a confident each way selection.

Recommendation: Imperial Alcazar 4.10 EW 6/1 NAP at 6 places with bet365

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4.50 Mares’ Novices Hurdle

Ireland have won all six renewals of this contest – Mullins 5 De Bromhead 1 – and I hope to see Dinoblue (4.50) make it first set to Willie and build on her impressive debut success at Clonmel back in January. That fluent 15L success is nothing special and her ability to handle this faster ground must be taken on trust, 

Few gave the British much hope of keeping the mares’ hurdle on home soil on Tuesday, but Marie’s Rock caused a bit of a shock and Love Envoi looked a decent sort when scoring in Grade 2 company at Sandown last time – albeit over further on soft ground. She looks a big danger with the Fry stable going so well but Dinoblue could be out of the very top draw.

Recommendation: Dinoblue 4.50 at 5/2 with 888sport

5.30 Kim Muir Handicap Chase

As well as Gericault Roque ran in the Ultima on Tuesday, I can’t help but think he would have won the Kim Muir given he ran from 5lbs out of the handicap earlier in the week. Still, it was not meant to be, and we have another cracking handicap chase to get look forward to.

The Elliot stable have won the last two renewals of the race and they saddle four this afternoon. Frontal Assault shapes like a thorough stayer but as a son of Presenting, will he be at home over three-and-a- quarter miles on soft ground. He has been well touted in Festival preview nights in Ireland, but he is short enough in the betting and I just favour Come On Teddy (5.30) with the 16/1 with Bet365 a standout price at the time of writing.

The EW recommendation is 8lbs better off with Omar Moretti for 3L on Catterick form last month and the latter has followed up back at the garrison track. He represents a big danger but Come On Teddy made a couple of significant errors on that occasion and he can reverse the form. Tom George’s 8-y-old has winning form at the track over timber and finished third in the Pertemps Final at last year’s Festival.

Recommendation: Come On Teddy 5.30 EW 16/1 with bet365    

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