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Thursday's Cheltenham Festival tips from Alex Hammond

Alex Hammond Posted 13th March 2013 view comments

The racing continues on Thursday at the Cheltenham Festival.

Here are my picks for day three - and don't forget that I'll be riding Mica Mika in the St Patrick's Day Derby Charity race, to raise money for Cancer Research. If you would like to sponsor me you can here: www.justgiving.com/SkySportsAlexH.

THURSDAY

Jewson Novices' Chase - 2m 4f

Cue Card: in action on Thursday

Cue Card: in action on Thursday

Now things can change quickly in horseracing and when I previewed days one and two Dynnaste looked likely to run in the RSA Chase. David Pipe has decided to avoid a slog in soft ground in that race and will run him in this instead. He is favourite with Sky Bet and deservedly so. He should take all the beating in this event. Captain Conan scraped home in G1 Scilly Isles at Sandown last time out, but he wasn't his best there and is 3/3 over fences. Aupcharlie can go well for Willie Mullins, he was only beaten a head in a G1 Leopardstown over Christmas by his stablemate Back in Focus and could be classed as unlucky as he stumbled on landing. He didn't jump flawlessly at Naas last time though (2nd again), but I think after two recent runs over 3m this shorter trip may help. Module represents Tom George, he won over 2 miles Leicesteron his last run, but stays further. He was and impressive winner at this track over hurdles and the trip looks ideal. Argocat is an interesting runner for Tom Taaffe. He was a useful flat stayer for Tom Tate. He has won a Maiden Hurdle and 2 over fences for new trainer. He won on Boxing Day at Limerick and the plan was to come straight here after that win. He's an exciting chaser and could be a decent each way bet. Arvika Ligeonniere fell in Irish Arkle latest after a novicey error.

For me Thursday is all about the final race on the card. I'll be riding for Richard Fahey in this charity flat race and I'm hoping I can give you all a run for your money.

Alex Hammond
Quotes of the week

SELECTION: Dynaste, Argocat - each way

Pertemps Final - Handicap Hurdle 3m

Many people have Sam Winner as their best bet for the festival and he goes to the Pertemps with a massive chance. He comes here having beaten Peddlers Cross in a jumpers bumper at Kempton and that should have knocked any rough edges off him. Prior to that he finished 5th at Sandown, on his first run for a year. He looks a well handicapped horse, but that doesn't appear to have escaped anyone's attention. Jonjo O'Neill trains Shutthefrontdoor who is a horse on a roll having won his last three starts, his overall record is good too having only been beaten once in a seven race career. He doesn't look particularly streetwise for this race, but ground conditions will suit him. Close House was an expensive purchase in January 2011 and he looks like an unexposed improver for David Pipe. Dursey Sound is another live contender for Jonjo O'Neill who also looks unexposed. Ely Brown is another to consider as he has been running well this term for his trainer Charlie Longsdon. Longsdon served his apprenticeship with Nicky Henderson and is making up into a very successful trainer himself. This horse still looks to be improving. Holywell was 2nd to him last time out, infact he has finished 2nd on his last 4 starts. I'm sticking with the talking horse here, Sam Winner.

SELECTION: Selection: Sam Winner
Ryanair Chase - 2m 5f

This race is making up to be a cracker. Cue Card has swerved a clash with Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase to run in this and he is favourite for this event and he deserves to be. He won the Ascot Chase over 2m 5 ½ f last time out which was good to see having not stayed the 3 miles in the King George. If First Lieutenant lines up here for Irish trainer Mouse Morris he must have a great chance, he is also a leading contender for the Gold Cup. Sizing Europe sadly looks more likely to run in the Champion Chase earlier in the week. His trainer Henry de Bromhead has declared him for Wednesday's contest as he is concerned that he could face a slog over this longer trip on soft ground. He won the Champion Chase in 2011 and was 2nd to Finian's Rainbow last year. He has won his last 5 starts since over 2m - 2m 4f and seems as good as ever at the age of 11. Riverside Theatre beat Albertas Run in this last year. He was a disappointing 6th in King George last start but goes well fresh which will help him here. Champion Court represents Martin Keighley, the horse didn't seem at his best when beaten at Kempton last time as he didn't jump fluently. The Philip Hobbs trained Menorah would probably prefer better ground. He was 3rd to Silviniaco Conti in the Denman Chase last time out and is 3/6 at this track over hurdles including in the Supreme. Albertas Run loves it round here. Jonjo O'Neill has saddled him to win this twice and he was a creditable 2nd last year. He also won the RSA as a novice. He had recently gallop at Kempton but doesn't do a tap and should be lit up by a trip back to this course. He hasn't run since Aintree where he was 3rd in the Melling Chase to Finian's Rainbow. He's 12 years old now though.

SELECTION: Cue Card

World Hurdle - 3m

The question that needs answering here is whether Oscar Whisky stays 3 miles. Nicky Henderson's charge would be suited by a 2m 4f Grade 1 hurdle race at the festival. But, in the absence of one he had the choice of the Champion Hurdle or this. I'm not convinced he stays and certainly not in a championship race, but with Big Bucks missing this year it was always worth a try. Reve De Sivola can run well for Nick Williams. He out stayed Oscar Whisky at this track in Cleeve Hurdle last time out (3 miles) on heavy ground which gave him stamina edge. As the ground could be quite dead here I think he holds the advantage once again. I'm gutted that Monksland misses the race as he was my big fancy for the stayers crown. Trainer Noel Meade said he's met a setback and although it's nothing serious it rules him out of the race. Peddlers Cross didn't convince over fences so has reverted to hurdles this term. He ran in a Jumpers Bumper (beaten favourite) then reverted to hurdles at Musselburgh where he didn't convince despite winning. Jockey Jason Maguire wasn't downcast though and Donald McCain was also fairly confident after that run. Solwhit represents Charles Byrnes. The horse showed he was no back number when winning Limestone Lad Hurdle last time out (2m 3f) and he will be aided by the ground. However, he is yet to run over this trip so that's an unknown.

SELECTION: Reve de Sivola

Byrne Group Plate - Handicap Chase 2m 5f

Now to one of the tricky handicaps, but if the vibes are right it should be a race that Ballynagour makes light work of. David Pipe's runner is another of the so called bankers at the festival and despite numerous entries this chase always seemed to be top of his agenda. He made light of his introductory British handicap rating at Warwick on his first run for the trainer when he hacked up in a 2m 4 ½ f handicap chase. He won there off 123 and runs off 143 in this. Judging on that win his 20lb rise won't halt his progress. The stable won this last year and they should do so again. Hunt Ball has top weight for trainer Kieran Burke who says the horse has been working well recently. He would prefer better ground though. Cantlow represents Paul Webber and also holds an engagement in the Kim Muir on the same card. He has strong claims wherever he runs as he looks like an unexposed improving chaser. He is proven over this sort of trip, but has won over 3 miles in maiden hurdle company. He handles the ground and has some classy form to his name over hurdles. He makes his handicap debut over fences in whichever of the races Webber runs him in and off a mark of 143 looks interesting. I'd prefer to see him run in the Amateurs races as he won't face Ballynagour there. Tap Night travels from the Scottish yard of Lucinda Russell. Vino Griego comes here in great form for Gary Moore having won at Ascot latest and over this course and distance the time before.

SELECTION: Ballynagour

Kim Muir - 3m 1 ½ f Handicap Chase (Amateurs)

So, let's hope Cantlow runs in this race as it looks the easiest option. Super Duty is the horse I like though for Donald McCain who has snapped up services of top amateur Derek O'Connor (9 time champion point to point rider). This is the only amateur race at the festival he is yet to win. McCain has a good record in this race and I hope he adds to that on Thursday. This horse also had the option of the RSA and given that he should run a big race. I've followed Harry the Viking this season and haven't lost heart with him just yet. His last run came in the Hennessy back in November and he could run into a place for Sir Alex Ferguson as he is still lightly raced.

SELECTION: Super Duty

St Patrick's Derby - 1m 5f Charity Race

For me Thursday is all about the final race on the card. I'll be riding for Richard Fahey in this charity flat race and I'm hoping I can give you all a run for your money. I've obviously had my ear to the ground and been looking up the form of the opposition. I can honestly say it will be one of the most competitive races at the meeting!! It seems there are a few fancied runners and owner Andy Stewart even tipped his runner, Maxi Chop, on TV the other day. So, anything can happen, but I hope we can go well. Whatever the outcome all the riders have raised a fortune for Cancer Research UK which was the ultimate aim of this race. I, like my fellow riders, have worked hard on fitness and as you know I have been riding out for a number of trainers.

Richard has kindly agreed to find me a competitive horse to ride so I hope I don't let him down! If you fancy sponsoring me please check out my webpage www.justgiving.com/SkySportsAlexH

If you wanted to see who I tipped for Wednesday click here.

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