Our racing ambassador Nick Luck gives his thoughts on Day 3 of the greatest show on turf.
Day three of the Cheltenham Festival looks another cracker with some brilliant racing in store, including Bob Olinger versus Galopin Des Champs in the Turners and an intriguing Stayers’ Hurdle.
Here are Nick Luck’s thoughts.
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BOB OLINGER can win the small field Turners Novices Chase (1.30pm) at even-money, and remind us of just how talented a racehorse he is. He is a classic example of how a microscopic issue can be blown out of all proportion on the preview circuit. A couple of slightly novicey leaps on his chasing debut have been translated into not being able to jump, which has meant the disparity in price between him and Galopin De Champs (a horse I love, by the way) is not big enough.
HONEST VIC is a big price at 20/1 for the Pertemps Final (2.10pm), but he’ll be one of my bigger each-way handicap bets of the Festival. Last time he encountered decent ground at Cheltenham he absolutely bolted up, looking for all the world a horse who could end up in the Stayers’ Hurdle. Things haven’t exactly gone to plan since, but he’s back down the weights, has been campaigned with a bit more guile this time and has run with enough encouragement to think that he’s about to peak again.
ELDORADO ALLEN should be backed each-way at 14/1 and without the favourite Allaho in the Ryanair (2.50pm). Allaho’s shock and awe tactics got a few on the back foot from the outset last year and he’ll be impossible to beat in the same form. But Eldorado Allen ran with great credit in last year’s Arkle and has improved steadily since. His stable is probably in the best form they’ve been in during that period and conditions will be perfect. He has enough pace not to be completely taken out of his comfort zone, while you can have confidence that he’ll finish off his race strongly.
FLOORING PORTER has been a long range fancy for the Stayers’ Hurdle (3.30pm) for some time, and I see no obvious reason to change my mind. The slight reservation is that he could get revved up by the crowd this year, but Gavin Cromwell is on top of that already, and if he gets away in front (and doesn’t get caught napping by Klassical Dream or the starter) he’ll take the world of catching at 3/1. My feeling is that Champ didn’t run anywhere near his best in the Cleeve and I rate him much the biggest threat.
THE GLANCING QUEEN (11/2) and SLATE HOUSE (40/1) are the two that interest me as bets in the Plate (4.10pm). The Glancing Queen has pretty obvious credentials having smashed a fair field of mares at Warwick before running with great credit here behind L’Homme Presse (probably an impossible task). More pertinent to that run was that she had Fantastikas and Oscar Elite well beaten and both ran with a deal of credit on Tuesday. Clearly Slate House is a slightly nutty outsider, but he’s now strung together three bits of actual form to suggest he’s getting his confidence back. He’s stones lower than in his pomp, but he’s not ancient and the drop back to this trip should suit.
NINA THE TERRIER is the recommendation at 33/1 in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (4.50pm) – a race that I’m approaching with some caution. I think the angle here is that the market is massively overrating the form and/or potential of the Irish mares. Dinoblue is the one that might have real star quality, but she’s only run once and that was on very deep ground. And ground is the key to the selection she’s just looked a completely different ball game when it’s not been wet, showing a real bit of speed and class at Newbury in November, when the sadly absent Elle Est Belle was amongst her victims. At huge odds, she is definitely talented enough to get a bit of the action here.
SCHOOL BOY HOURS is the pick at 5/1 in the Kim Muir (5.30pm). I know that Noel Meade felt he had a horse genuinely capable of winning the Grand National on his hands, but he’s going to be right on the cusp of getting a run in it this year. This could compensate, however, as he’s not been unduly punished for a really fluent success in a big field in the Paddy Power at Christmas. He’s progressive with conditions to suit and a top jockey into the bargain.