Cheltenham Festival Day 3 Betting Tips – Thursday 15th March 2018

Thursday brings us into the second half of the Cheltenham Festival and it’s the JLT Novices’ Chase that gets the day underway. Having been introduced in 2011, it’s one of the most recent addition to the Festival’s schedule. Willie Mullins has wasted no time stamping his authority on it, saddling four of the seven winners including each of the last three.

The Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle is the race that follows and it’s been a great one for big returns over the years. Between 2004 and 2013, every winner was priced at least 14/1 with two horses claiming victory at 50/1. This is quite the contrast to the Ryanair Chase which has seen the favourite or second favourite win seven of the last nine renewals. The Grade 1 contest welcomes back reigning champion Un De Sceaux who will look to join Albertas Run as the only double winner of the race.

Marking the halfway point in the day’s action is the Stayers’ Hurdle which sees horses take on 12 hurdles over a distance of three miles. Stamina is a must especially with the going expected to be soft at Cheltenham on Thursday. It’s a race that was famously won by Big Buck’s on four consecutive occasions between 2009 and 2012, a record likely to stand for some time.

  • JLT Novices’ Chase – Modus (15/2 at Coral)
  • Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle – Tommy Rapper – each way (16/1 at Coral)
  • Ryanair Chase – Un De Sceaux (6/4 at Betfred)
  • Stayers’ Hurdle – Sam Spinner (9/2 at Betfair)

1:30pm – JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1), 2m 3f 198y

With Footpad seemingly heading towards the Arkle and Monalee set for the RSA Chase, this will really shake up the betting for Thursday’s opening race. Invitation Only (7/2, Betfair) will find himself leading the field despite finishing third last time out, one place behind stablemate Al Boum Photo (10/1, Ladbrokes). Only a head separated the Mullins pair at Leopardstown during the Flogas Chase however and if Invitation Only can avoid any mistakes this time then you’d fancy him to turn the tables.

Mullins has a fantastic record in this event but it is rare for a horse to win here having not finished in the top two last time out. Terrefort (6/1, BetVictor) was victorious in his last appearance, impressing on his Grade 1 debut to win at Sandown over this distance. This performance has put him in real contention here although the trends in this race say his lack of Cheltenham experience could be a hindrance. All of the last seven JLT winners had previously featured at least once at the Festival.

This will be a seventh Cheltenham appearance for Modus who put in a respectable showing to finish fifth from 25 in the Coral Handicap Cup a year ago. He’s not taken to the fences particularly quickly this season though, showing signs of his inexperience at Bangor and Wincanton before falling at Exeter. There were significant signs of improvement at Kempton last month however despite his awfully slow start. Providing he can immediately break into a gallop this time, he’s worth taking a gamble on.

Modus to win – 15/2 at Coral

2:10pm – Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3), 2m 7f 213y

Glenloe looks like he’ll be the shortest price option for this race which has seen just one winning favourite in the past 12 renewals. At 8/1 with Betfair he’s not especially well priced for a horse without a win since 2016. He has put in some very respectable shifts this season though, placing on the last three occasions and won’t carry too much weight here. Enjoying victory more recently was Louis’ Van Pouch (9/1, Ladbrokes) but he’s not featured since November’s win and a four month absence could hinder his chances.

Ten of the last 17 winners of this race have come from outside the top five in the betting. Having an each way flutter on someone further down the betting may be the way to go as a result. Boasting both a course and distance win is Calett Mad (20/1, BetVictor). He returned sluggishly after having wind surgery but showed huge signs of improvement when winning at Musselburgh over three miles and two furlongs. A repeat showing could well see him in the mix for this race.

Tommy Rapper has some rather eye catching form coming into this race. Dan Skelton also has him entered in the Martin Pipe Hurdle but he looks more suited for a three mile test following his display at Haydock a month ago. The ground was incredibly testing at the Merseyside course but the seven-year-old showed enough stamina to defend his lead from a strong challenge. The seven-year-old was way off the pace on his last Cheltenham appearance but large improvements since should give him a genuine chance here.

Tommy Rapper each way – 16/1 at Ladbrokes

2:50pm – Ryanair Chase (Grade 1), 2m 4f 166y

Last year’s winner Un De Sceaux is back for more Ryanair Chase glory and has been well backed to do just that. The 10-year-old hasn’t been given too much work to do this season, handed just the two starts, but he’s looked impressive both times. Conditions suited the 10-year-old during wins at Ascot and Cork as he’s only that performs better on soft going. If the ground at Cheltenham doesn’t firm up in the coming days, which isn’t forecast, it’s hard to see anyone having the beating of the favourite.

On the off chance the ground does turn good though, Balko Des Flos (7/1, Betfair) should be preferred. He struggled in soft/heavy going on his first two starts of the season, unable to show off his talent in such conditions. On slightly firmer ground at Leopardstown improvements were made but he ideally would like the going to be good. When last tested on such going he breezed past 21 others in the Galway Plate and similar conditions would allow him to make amends for his Festival fall last year. Also looking to make amends is Douvan who may be preferred in this race but at 3/1 with Ladbrokes he’s not quite worth the risk following a 12 month lay-off.

Cue Card (7/1, Betfair) will not be risked for the Gold Cup and is set to feature in this event instead. The decorated 12-year-old has made just the one outing this year but it was a credible one which came over this distance at Ascot. A second place finish to Waiting Patiently isn’t the sort of performance that makes you think he can beat Un De Sceaux however. With two falls on his last two Cheltenham appearances, Colin Tizzard’s horse looks one to avoid.

Un De Seaux to win – 6/4 at Betfred

3:30pm – Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1), 2m 7f 213y

After being tested for a banned substance last year, Yanworth (6/1, Betfair) is back to try his luck at the Festival. He did win the Stayers’ Liverpool Hurdle to end last season, beating Supasundae but hasn’t really pushed on from it, twice the beaten favourite this campaign. Supasundae (5/1, Betfair) on the other hand performed better than expected when beating Faugheen at Leopardstown last month. It was only over two miles however so it’s important not to get too carried away by the win.

Jane Harrington’s horse did come close to a three mile triumph just before the turn of the New Year, beaten narrowly by Apple’s Jade. The talented mare is entered in this race but it appears that Gordon Elliot may prefer her in the OLGB Mares’ Hurdle where she is the odds-on favourite. Her absence would certainly be a huge boost to Supsasundae who has twice found himself behind the six-year-old mare this season.

Sam Spinner’s stamina for this test cannot be under any doubt after emphatically winning at boggy Haydock Park in November. Jedd O’Keeffe’s gelding won by 17 lengths that day, showing no signs of wavering towards the end. He followed it up with a win in Long Walk Hurdle, a race which has proven to be a useful guide for this race. The soft ground expected at Cheltenham will be much to his liking and on such going it’s hard to see anyone having the legs to match him.

Sam Spinner to win – 9/2 at Betfair