Cheltenham Festival Day Three tips: Stay strong and back Sam Spinner
By Lewis Jones
Last Updated: 15/03/18 2:15pm
We’re two days in and I’m struggling with a severe case of second-itus.
Shantou Flyer (20/1), Ms Parfois (8/1), Monalee (100/30) and Topofthegame (12/1) have all finished as the bridesmaid for this column and although we're sitting at a decent profit of 12pts for the week, it's been a case of what might have been.
That's not including our Sky Bet 8/1 accumulator that landed on Tuesday, however. If you don't blow your own trumpet, who will?
The Ryanair Chase (2:50) revolves around whether market leader Un De Sceaux can keep it together without the brilliance of Ruby Walsh, who suffered a suspected serious leg injury on Wednesday.
Willie Mullins' brute of a chaser won this race in fine style 12 months ago, where he was given a masterful ride by Walsh. The heavy ground will suit him on Thursday but this horse is a tricky customer and Walsh will be missed. He's best swerved in the outright market and I'll be taking the 5/1 about course specialist FRODON to finish in the first two.
Paul Nicholls' chaser is 2-2 on soft ground at Cheltenham, which includes a quite astonishing romp in a handicap in January where he had Shantou Flyer and Coo Star Sivola - the 1-2 in the Ultima Handicap on Tuesday - beaten in behind.
Although he has form to find with Cue Card on their run in the Ascot Chase, it's hard to see Colin Tizzard's magnificent chaser backing up that brilliant run when you consider his advancing years.
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Noel Meade's strong travelling chaser is a very sound jumper and will appreciate the likely strong pace enforced by the likes of Terrefort and Shattered Love. The eight-year-old isn't always the most reliable off the bridle, hence my unwillingness to back him in the outright market, but this contest doesn't look the deepest and his class should see him travel nicely into contention.
The Stayers Hurdle (3:30) looks a sub-standard renewal with plenty of doubts surrounding most of the market principles. Keeping it simple in these types of Grade One races usually is a sound philosophy and SAM SPINNER - the market leader - looks the smart play at his current odds around the 4/1 mark. That price looks a shade too big on what we've seen from him on testing ground this season, like when he powered clear in the Reve De Sivola Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.
It's worth going double handed into the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at (4:10) and the two chosen ones are GUITAR PETE and MERCIAN PRINCE. Both have form when it comes to performing on deep ground, especially Guitar Pete, who beat the classy Clan Des Obeaux over course and distance off just a 5lb lower mark.
Mercian Prince is on the upgrade following jumping issues and should enjoy the test that Cheltenham brings as he seemed to take to the place when coming down whilst travelling well behind Royal Vacation at the track last season.
The Kim Muir Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (5:30) is a race where you can discount most of the field and concentrate on the top amateur riders. The strength at the head of the market should be respected this year and I'm expecting one of either SUGAR BARON or MALL DINI to triumph.
After going around in circles trying to favour one of them, I've decided to take the greedy way out and back them both to staggered stakes with the majority on Mall Dini.
As jockey Davy Russell said on Wednesday, trainer Pat Kelly is a shrewd operator when it comes to placing horses at the Cheltenham Festival and Mall Dini has been plotted up for this race ever since finishing a close-up fifth last season where nothing went right for jockey Katie Walsh.
Sugar Baron fits plenty of the trends for this contest (six of the last seven winners have worn headgear, trained by Nicky Henderson), plus, he could have been coming into this race unbeaten this season if things had dropped his way at Cheltenham and Sandown where he was beaten in a tight finish. He's a dour stayer and will be thumping up the hill under Walsh.
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Follow our tip for Sam Spinner, Guitar Pete and Sugar Baron all to place at 16/1 with Sky Bet here.
Advised tips with staking plan:
*The points system is a way of calculating profit and should give you a good idea of how confident the tipster is about the selection is (1 lowest, 5 highest). Whatever your normal stake size is multiply that by the point suggestion. We'll be posting the profit and loss results over the week on the daily tipping page. And remember, gamble responsibly.