Thursday at Cheltenham

Welcome to our coverage of the third day of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.


The seven race card begins with the JLT Novices, and features the hugely anticipated Ryanair Chase and the Stayers’ Hurdle.

We have detailed run through of every race with Leon Blanche of BoyleSports – who provide all our odds in our Thursday review – and our racing expert Adam Norman.

1.30pm £150,000 JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f

The JLT Novices’ Chase – originally the Golden Miller Novices’ Chase – was introduced to The Festival in 2011. Run over two and a half miles, the contest was upgraded to Grade One status in 2014.

The race has been a good breeding ground for some top horses with Sir Des Champs and Vautour amongst the previous winners.

Race fact:  The Irish have failed to win this race just once.
Race odds: 6/4 Yorkhill, 4/1 Top Notch, 5/1 Politologue, 5/1 Disko
TGT prediction: We loved how Disko ran last time out at Leopardstown and we have to stick with the grey.
Adam Norman’s view: Flying Angel – Runner up at the Festival last year and back to form last time, great each-way chance.
BoyleSports says: It is the new middle distance and Yorkhill was very impressive in the Neptuhe last year and starts favourite and from an Irish perspective we see them getting behind him and Top Notch is a very decent hurdler and I think he will go very close indeed, he has got better and better and Nicky Henderson has a terrific record here. Disko jumped so well at Leopardstown last time out, and then you have Politologue too but I don’t feel he brings any type of form as the other three.

2.10pm £95,000 Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Listed) 3m

The Pertemps Network Final was introduced to The Festival in 1974, replacing the George Duller Handicap Hurdle. Run over three miles, the Pertemps Network Final is the final of the Pertemps handicap hurdle series and is served by qualifiers which are held in Britain, Ireland and France.

Willie Wumpkins entered Festival folklore with three consecutive victories between 1979 and 1981, when aged 11, 12 & 13.

Race fact: Forgive ‘N’ Forget is the only Cheltenham Gold Cup winner to have won this race.
Race odds: 6/1 Presenting Percy, Tobefair, 8/1 Jury Duty, 10/1 Impulsive Star, El Bandit
TGT prediction: A real tough one, again look to the each-way market – we like Wotzizname.
Adam Norman’s View: Tobefair – A wide open contest but it would be a brave man to take on the likely favourite.
BoyleSports says: Presenting Percy comes from a very small yard in County Galway trained by Pat Kelly – and he had a winner at last year’s festival, he does not have many horses but they normally go close wherever they put them. Jury Duty with Gordon Elliott will also go close too. I think Irish fans are going to like this race.  I like Impulsive Star for Neil Mulholland, he is a trainer that is only getting better and he is good value and could come close on the day.

2.50pm £300,000 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2m 5f

It was one of several new races introduced at the Festival when a fourth day was added to the meeting in 2005. Prior to this there had been a similar event at the Festival called the Cathcart Challenge Cup.

It has been established as one of the National Hunt’s big races and attracts big names.

Race fact: Only Albertas Run has won this race more than once
Race odds: 11/4 Un De Sceaux, 4/1 Empire of Dirt, 5/1 Sizing John, Uxizandre
TGT prediction: Empire of Dirt is one of our favourites horses and we are going with Gordon Elliott’s charge here.
Adam Norman’s view: Un De Sceaux – Mullins and Walsh have had no luck so far this week but this outstanding horse can stop the rot.
BoyleSports says: The Ryanair is a very smart race, and Un De Sceaux is going to be very hard to oppose here but he would prefer the softer ground. Good ground and then he is capable of getting turned over. Uxizandre – who gave Tony McCory his last Cheltenham winner – is a very good horse indeed and he would need to come into the equation here. Empire of Dirt – clearly he would be better suited to the Gold Cup – stepped back here is clearly not going to be his strength after doing his best work in the latter stages of the Irish Gold Cup, but he is a quality horse. Sub Lieutenant is another for Henry De Bromhead who could have a great chance for me.

3.30pm £300,000 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m

First run in 1912, it was dropped a couple of times but in recent times has been established as the leading long-distance hurdle event in the National Hunt calendar, and it is the feature race on the third day.

It has produced some amazing stories over the years with most recently the likes of Barcacouda, Inglis Drever and four-time winner Big Buck’s becoming legends off the back of winning this race.

Race fact: The favourite has taken the honours in the last two races.
Race odds: 11/10 Unowhatimeanharry, 7/1 Nichols Canyon, Jezki, Shaneshill, 8/1 Cole Harden
TGT prediction: Unowhatimeanharry is a great horse and hard to oppose we also think previous winner Cole Harden is a great each-way bet.
Adam Norman’s view: Ballyoptic – Unowhatimeanharry will take some stopping but Ballyoptic is way over priced.
BoyleSports says: The Stayers’ Hurdle is one punters will have down as a banker with Unowhatimeanharry, he is always in the right place and is not flashy but I just think he is a bit short – he is a very worthy favourite, but the one horse for me that has that class is Jezki – he has won a Champion Hurdle but also won over 3miles at Punchestown so the trip will not be a problem and if the ground comes up good he might have that turn of foot that seems him home.

4.10pm £105,000 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase) (Grade 3) 2m 5f

The contest was formerly known as the Mildmay Of Flete Handicap Chase and was first staged in 1951. Only two horses have taken the title twice in the shape of The Tsarevich and Elfast.

Race fact: The legend Red Rum ran in this race in 1971 but only finished fourth.
Race odds: 5/1 Diamond King, 10/1 Starchitect, 12/1 Bouvreuil, Le Prezien, Blazer, Baron Alco, Sizing Codelco
TGT prediction: As hard a race to call as any at the Festival. Has to be each-way on Diamond King.
Adam Norman’s view: Starchitecht. The shrewd Pipe team have opted for the 2m4f contest with their novice and the hint should be taken.
BoyleSports says: Starchitecht would have to come into the reckoning – trained by David Pipe, he has proven how capable he is, but he is not ground-dependent but Diamond King – how he won the Coral Cup last year, be bolted up and he is another horse that likes good ground so he needs to be take very seriously.

4.50pm £80,000 Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 1f

Introduced at The Festival in 2016, the Grade Two Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle offers an opportunity for novice mares to compete against their own sex. Run over two miles and a furlong and open to four-year-olds and upwards.

Race fact: It is the newest race at The Festival.
Race odds: Evs Let’s Dance, 9/4 Airlie Beach, 6/1 La Bague Au Roi, Forge Meadow
TGT prediction: Let’s Dance has to be one of the bankers of the meeting – we like her, a lot.
Adam Norman’s view: La Bague Au Roi – This mare has been the apple of her trainer’s eye and the ground has come right for her.
BoyleSports says: We have not seen Airlie Beach since Fairyhouse in November and Let’s Dance has won twice them, and she is a second season novice with Cheltenham experience. For me she is my banker for the meeting and a certainty.

5.30pm £70,000 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Amateurs) (0-145) 3m 2f

The Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Chase was introduced to the National Hunt Meeting in 1946. Recently leading amateur Jamie Codd has won four of the last eight runnings.

Race fact: Cool Ground is the only horse to have progressed from winning this to a Cheltenham Gold Cup victory.
Race odds: 7/1 Mall Dini, 8/1 Squouateur, Southfield Royale, 10/1 The Crafty Butcher
TGT prediction: Another tough call where there is lots of each-way value on offer, we would edge towards Knock House.
Adam Norman’s view: Another Hero – Unexposed horse wears a tongue tie for the first time and should go really well.
BoyleSports says: Knock House is a horse you have to take into consideration. Mall Dini has won here before with Pat Kelly whilst Squouateur is an unexposed horse and I remember Gordon Elliot is not afraid to attack these big handicaps, if he thinks he can win it then he will run it so he could be one to look for here.


1.30pm JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (8 runners)
1 Baily Cloud (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) M. F. Morris, Ireland 11st 4lb Mark Enright
2 Balko des Flos (FR) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 4lb David Mullins
3 Disko (FR) (Hood) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 4lb B. J. Cooper
4 Flying Angel (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 4lb Noel Fehily
5 Kilcrea Vale (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Jeremiah McGrath
6 Politologue (FR) (Hood) Paul Nicholls 11st 4lb Sam Twiston-Davies
7 Top Notch (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Daryl Jacob
8 Yorkhill (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 4lb

2.10pm Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle Race (Listed Race) (24 runners)
1 Gayebury Evan Williams 11st 12lb Adam Wedge
2 Presenting Percy (Tongue Strap) Patrick G. Kelly, Ireland 11st 11lb Davy Russell
3 Aubusson (FR) Nick Williams 11st 10lb Mr C. Williams (7)
4 Jury Duty (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Jack Kennedy
5 Caid du Berlais (FR) (Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Stan Sheppard (5)
6 Barney Dwan (IRE) Fergal O’Brien 11st 8lb Paddy Brennan
7 Tobefair (Sheepskin C/P) Debra Hamer 11st 8lb Trevor Whelan
8 El Bandit (IRE) Paul Nicholls 11st 8lb Sam Twiston-Davies
9 Mr Mix (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 8lb Harry Cobden
10 Golden Doyen (GER) Philip Hobbs 11st 8lb Tom O’Brien
11 Sutton Manor (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 7lb Ms L. O’Neill (5)
12 Splash of Ginge Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 6lb Jamie Bargary (3)
13 The Tourard Man (IRE) Alan King 11st 5lb Kevin Dowling (10)
14 Rocklander (IRE) Tom George 11st 5lb A. P. Heskin
15 Fingal Bay (IRE) Philip Hobbs 11st 5lb Mr Sean Houlihan (7)
16 Impulsive Star (IRE) Neil Mulholland 11st 5lb Mr S. Waley-Cohen (3)
17 Electric Concorde (IRE) J. Culloty, Ireland 11st 4lb David Mullins
18 Isleofhopendreams W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 4lb
19 Arctic Gold (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 3lb Tom Humphries (7)
20 Theo’s Charm (IRE) (Blinkers) Nick Gifford 11st 3lb Tom Cannon
21 Ballymalin (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 3lb Noel Fehily
22 Alzammaar (USA) Sam England 11st 3lb Jonathan England
23 For Good Measure (IRE) Philip Hobbs 11st 3lb Richard Johnson
24 Clondaw Cian (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Suzy Smith 11st 2lb Sean Bowen

2.50pm Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (8 runners)
1 Alary (FR) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom O’Brien
2 Aso (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Venetia Williams 11st 10lb Charlie Deutsch
3 Empire of Dirt (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb B. J. Cooper
4 Josses Hill (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Nico de Boinville
5 Sub Lieutenant (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb David Mullins
6 Un de Sceaux (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb R. Walsh
7 Uxizandre (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Alan King 11st 10lb Mark Walsh
8 Vaniteux (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Noel Fehily

3.30pm Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (13 runners)
1 Agrapart (FR) Nick Williams 11st 10lb Lizzie Kelly
2 Ballyoptic (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies
3 Clondaw Warrior (IRE) (Hood) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ms K. Walsh
4 Cole Harden (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Warren Greatrex 11st 10lb Gavin Sheehan
5 Dedigout (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb B. J. Cooper
6 Jezki (IRE) (Hood) Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 11st 10lb Mark Walsh
7 Lil Rockerfeller (USA) (Sheepskin C/P) Neil King 11st 10lb Trevor Whelan
8 Nichols Canyon W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb R. Walsh
9 Shaneshill (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb P. Townend
10 Snow Falcon (IRE) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 10lb Sean Flanagan
11 The New One (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Non Runner
12 Unowhatimeanharry (Tongue Strap) Harry Fry 11st 10lb Noel Fehily
13 Un Temps Pour Tout (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 10lb Non Runner
14 West Approach Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom Scudamore
15 Yanworth (Sheepskin C/P) Alan King 11st 10lb Non Runner
16 Zarkandar (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Harry Cobden

4.10pm Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (24 runners)
1 Village Vic (IRE) Philip Hobbs 11st 12lb Richard Johnson
2 Art Mauresque (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 9lb Nick Scholfield
3 Tango de Juilley (FR) Venetia Williams 11st 4lb Charlie Deutsch (3)
4 Cold March (FR) (Blinkers) Venetia Williams 11st 4lb Liam Treadwell
5 Diamond King (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 4lb Davy Russell
6 Voix d’Eau (FR) (Tongue Strap) Harry Fry 11st 0lb Mr M. Legg (5)
7 Baron Alco (FR) Gary Moore 11st 0lb Jamie Moore
8 Road To Respect (IRE) Noel Meade, Ireland 10st 13lb B. J. Cooper
9 Bouvreuil (FR) (Hood, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 10st 13lb Mark Walsh
10 King’s Odyssey (IRE) Evan Williams 10st 13lb Adam Wedge
11 Cocktails At Dawn Nicky Henderson 10st 13lb Nico de Boinville
12 Germany Calling (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Charlie Longsdon 10st 13lb Kielan Woods
13 Starchitect (IRE) (Tongue Strap) David Pipe 10st 11lb Tom Scudamore
14 Henryville (Tongue Strap) Harry Fry 10st 9lb Noel Fehily
15 Ballykan (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Nigel Twiston-Davies 10st 8lb Daryl Jacob
16 Sizing Codelco (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 10st 8lb Tom O’Brien
17 Pinkie Brown (FR) (Hood) Neil Mulholland 10st 5lb A. P. Heskin
18 Un Ace (FR) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Kim Bailey 10st 5lb David Bass
19 Rock Gone (IRE) Dr Richard Newland 10st 4lb Sam Twiston-Davies
20 Champagne At Tara Jonjo O’Neill 10st 4lb Aidan Coleman
21 Mad Jack Mytton (IRE) Jonjo O’Neill 10st 3lb Richie McLernon
22 All Together (FR) Johnny Farrelly 10st 1lb Brendan Powell
23 Katachenko (IRE) (Hood) Donald McCain 10st 1lb Will Kennedy
24 Thomas Crapper (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Robin Dickin 10st 1lb (5lb ex) Charlie Poste 

4.50pm Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (16 runners)
1 Airlie Beach (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb
2 Coillte Lass (IRE) Paul Nicholls 11st 7lb Sam Twiston-Davies
3 Forge Meadow (IRE) Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 11st 7lb Robbie Power
4 La Bague Au Roi (FR) Warren Greatrex 11st 7lb Gavin Sheehan
5 Let’s Dance (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb
6 Tahira (GER) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Richard Hobson 11st 7lb Harry Skelton
7 Dusky Legend Alan King 11st 5lb Wayne Hutchinson
8 Asthuria (FR) (Hood) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 2lb
9 Awayinthewest (IRE) P. A. Fahy, Ireland 11st 2lb Davy Russell
10 Barra (FR) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 2lb B. J. Cooper
11 Groovejet Richard Spencer 11st 2lb Sean Bowen
12 Montana Belle (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 2lb David Mullins
13 On Demand (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 2lb Tom O’Brien
14 Toe The Line (IRE) John E. Kiely, Ireland 11st 2lb Denis O’Regan
15 Verdana Blue (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 2lb Jeremiah McGrath
16 Titi de Montmartre (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) R. Collet, France 11st 0lb Ludovic Philipperon

5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (24 runners)
1 Pendra (IRE) (Blinkers) Charlie Longsdon 11st 12lb Mr Derek O’Connor
2 Mall Dini (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Patrick G. Kelly, Ireland 11st 10lb Ms K. Walsh
3 Forgotten Gold (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Tom George 11st 10lb Mr N. George (7)
4 La Vaticane (FR) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 10lb Mr D. Edwards
5 Doctor Harper (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) David Pipe 11st 8lb Ms L. O’Neill
6 Local Show (IRE) Sarah Humphrey 11st 8lb Mr Thomas Greatrex (3)
7 Southfield Royale (Sheepskin C/P) Neil Mulholland 11st 8lb Mr James King
8 Unioniste (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 8lb Mr D. Maxwell (3)
9 Hadrian’s Approach (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Mr W. Biddick
10 Potters Legend Lucy Wadham 11st 6lb Mr M. Legg
11 Potters Cross Rebecca Curtis 11st 6lb Mr Barry O’Neill
12 Lamb Or Cod (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Philip Hobbs 11st 5lb Mr Sean Houlihan (7)
13 Premier Bond (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Mr S. Waley-Cohen
14 Domesday Book (USA) (Blinkers) Stuart Edmunds 11st 4lb Miss G. Andrews
15 Whats Happening (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Tom George 11st 4lb Mr R. O. Harding
16 Another Hero (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 3lb Mr J. J. O’Neill (5)
17 Sugar Baron (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 2lb Mr Steven Clements
18 Venitien de Mai (FR) J. T. R. Dreaper, Ireland 11st 2lb Mr P. W. Mullins
19 Lessons In Milan (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 2lb Mr H. Hunt (5)
20 Squouateur (FR) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 2lb Mr J. J. Codd
21 Kilfinichen Bay (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Charlie Longsdon 11st 2lb Mr J. Nailor (7)
22 Balbir du Mathan (FR) (Tongue Strap) Alan Fleming, Ireland 11st 1lb Mr Steven Clements
23 Father Edward (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) David Pipe 11st 1lb Mr Rex Dingle (7)
24 Alvarado (IRE) Fergal O’Brien 11st 0lb Mr Z. Baker (3)

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