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Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day Three Preview : Big Day for Paisley Park

Cheltenham Preview
Last Updated : 18th February, 2020 By Alex M
Cheltenham, England
First Race 1:30pm
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Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day Three Preview

Day three of the Cheltenham Festival is traditionally known as St Patrick's Thursday. This is a big celebratory day for the Irish and those heading over to the meeting for just one day from Ireland, will usually choose this one. On the course it is the only day of the meeting to have two big races headlining the action. The Stayers Hurdle is the leading race on the card but it is backed up by the Ryanair Chase, a race that has really grown in stature over the past decade and is the next best race after the main four championship events. 

With three traditionally tough handicaps on the day this is not an easy one for punters, but the three Grade One events and the Mares Hurdle hold better hope for those betting at the meeting. 

Here we take a look at day three of the Cheltenham Festival meeting, while you can view the other days by using the links below.

Day One | Day Two | Day Four

For advice ahead of the meeting, we have a page dedicated to the Cheltenham Festival which takes a look at the meeting as a whole, and offers various pointers and tips for those looking to place bets across the four days. We also have a page dedicated to day three of the meeting which takes a look back at last year and the horses that made their mark on this day in 2019. 

Marsh Novice Chase - 1.30

The Marsh Chase, previously known as the JLT Chase kicks things off on Thursday at the festival. This is a novice chase race over an intermediate distance of 2m4f. The race is a great test for youngsters who need a little further than two miles, but don't have the stamina for the test that the RSA Chase gives them. 

12 year old novice chasers are not something we normally see, but this season has been a special one for Faugheen. Many called for retirement at the start of the season for the former Champion Hurdle winner, but the horse has been nothing short brilliant this season so far. He's won all three starts, two of them at Grade One level and if he can run like that again, he comes into this race with a great chance of winning. 

We are going to side with the old boy here, a win that would bring the roof off Cheltenham on day three of the festival, Faugheen is the pick for us. 

A race that often takes some solving. The runners here have to qualify by finishing well in a qualifying race, so look back through these when you are compiling your form guide ahead of the event. 

Now that he has qualified for the race, we really like the look of a horse here and that runner is Kilbricken Storm. He ran an eye-catching race at Haydock to qualify and has actually being dropped a couple of pounds for that run, whihc makes him even more appealing. The Colin Tizzard runner is a former festival winner, he won the Albert Bartlett back in 2018. Things haven't really gone to plan since then, but the handicap mark he is currently on, 140, is simply too good to ignore. 

In a race that looks to be a bit of a minefield with a whole host of chances, we are siding with the interesting former festival winner Kilbricken Storm. 

The Ryanair is pretty much the fifth championship race of the festival, and jointly headlines the third day alongside the Stayers Hurdle. When introduced it was dubbed as the Gold Cup for horses who didn't stay the trip and while that is true in some respects, this is a top quality race with some serious horses in it. 

Last year's winner, Frodon, is a horse we like again here. It is fair to say he hasn't been pulling up any trees this season, but this race is tailor made for him. He powered up the hill last season and battled it out to win, this stiff 2m5f trip is the perfect trip for him and we think he will take a bit of beating once again here. 

The Irish hold a strong hand, with many possible entries in the race, probably led by A Plus Tard. He's a horse that is hard to get right though in terms of a trip, he ended last season over three miles and has only ran over two miles this season. With that slight question mark above him, we are more than happy to side with Frodon in his bid to win back to back titles. 

If the news we are expecting comes and Benie Des Dieux heads to the Mares Hurdle at the meeting then Paisley Park will be a rock-solid banker for many punters in 2020 and we don't blame them for that. The winner of the 2019 Stayers Hurdle has thrived on racing last season and this season and looks not only a class above his rivals but probably two or three classes above them. 

Emma Lavelle has given this horse the same preparation as last season, he comes into the festival on the back of a win in the Cleeve Hurdle, and while it wasn't as impressive this time around there is still plenty to like. This is a horse that only just does enough, but he always seems to have a gear or two spare if needed. The Cheltenham hill is something he relishes and at the end of three miles, this horse will be one of those staying on and hopefully for us that will mean him staying on and winning this contest. 

Opposition looks to be thin on the ground assuming Benie Des Dieux doesn't come here, with the majoirty of the other intended runners being horses that Paisley Park has beaten in the past, some of them more than once. 

We have to side with those who see him as a banker of the meeting, he looks rock solid to us, Paisley Park is our pick in the Stayers Hurdle. 

Another hugely competitive and tough to solve handicap on the day is the Brown Advisory Plate. This race brings together the tough and battle hardened top handicappers over two and a half miles. There may be one or two of interest lurking towards the bottom of the weights who could have a bit in hand here, but this is usually a race where quality comes to the fore. 

This season we have seen Spiritofthegames run well in a number of top races and he is the pick in this one, in the hope he continues his rock-solid season. There are no secrets with this horse, we aren't talking about one that has 10lb in hand over the handicapper, he is what he is. 

However, we know he loves these big field handicap races, he loves the course at Cheltenham and at a big price he should be involved in the closing stages of this contest. 

There is often a big market move in races like this one, where someone thinks that horses have been primed for the day so look out for betting patterns on this race, both before and on the day. 

Without that knowledge just yet, we will go for the safe and solid option, a horse that looks sure to be involved and that is Spiritofthegames. 

This is a new race to the festival and has been ran four times so far. Irish trainer Willie Mullins has won every single one of those up to now, so he is a man to take note of when he points a horse towards this race. That is exactly what he is doing with the very lightly races Lamarckise , which we believe is a tip in itself worth following. 

With Marie's Rock ruled out of the contest, the Irish have a very strong hand here once again this season. Although only have one run in the UK, Lamarckise is towards the head of the betting. She ran at Limerick in January, winning by two lengths and her only other start so far in her career has been in France, in a race for unraced three year old fillies. 

She wasn't foot perfect at Limerick, but battled well to get the job done. Comments after the race from Mullins said that she was not fit enough and needed the run, and that she would come on a lot for the experience. Both of those would put her in a better position to tackle a race such as this one, giving her a chance. 

There is little to go on in terms of meaningful form, but we respect Willie Mullins and the way he is talking about this horse. Expect to see a far more professional run from her at Cheltenham and she is our pick in a race that looks wide open. 

The Kim Muir rounds off the action on day three of the festival and this is another of the Cheltenham Festival handicaps that are so difficult to solve. It could well be 8/1 the field and our fancy is No Comment. He was fifth in this race last season and is still unexposed over fences. Was unlucky to fall last time out but looks like being a threat in this race.

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  • Irish trained horses have won five of the last six runnings of the Marsh Novice Chase (formely JTL Chase).
  • The favourite has won the last two Pertemps Network Finals.
  • Three of the last five runnings of the Ryanair Chase have been trained by Willie Mullins.
  • The last two winners of the Stayers' Hurdle have had female trainers.
  • Willie Mullins trained three of the first four home in last year's Mares' Novice Hurdle.
  • 2012 was the last time the favourite won the Kim Muir Handicap Chase.

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