We may only just be into the second week of February, but many of the sports community are already looking ahead to early March, specifically the legendary roar of the Cheltenham Festival. Held annually, this National Hunt calendar event is one that kick starts a spring and summer filled with both National Hunt and Flat Racing action.
The Cheltenham Festival, held in Gloucestershire, is a four-day event held across 28 races in total, with seven scheduled for each day. Each of the days at Cheltenham are renowned in their own way, such as Day 2 for the Champion Race, Day 4 for The Gold Cup, and so on. However, in this Festival preview, we want to take a closer look at the events of Day 3 of the Festival.
The penultimate day of the event will land on Thursday the 12th. Due to the Festival coinciding with St Patrick’s Day, Day 3 has come to be fondly named after the patron saint holiday, and as such, it brings a certain festive atmosphere to its races. A lot of predictions for the Festival have already been made in light of performances seen at Cheltenham and Dublin earlier this year, with each main event market in a state of anticipation. One such race that reflects this fever pitch of excitement is the Stayers’ Hurdle.
The race spans a distance of three miles across the ‘new course’ at Cheltenham, with horses needing to be aged four or older to compete. In the countdown to the start of the race, which is scheduled to begin at 3:30 pm, betting markets are already flooded with tips that Paisley Park will win.
Many of the Cheltenham Thursday tips come after the success the Emma Lavelle trained gelding has already experienced so far this year. At the Cleeve Hurdle, also held at Cheltenham, Lavelle watched as Paisley Park added a seventh win to his streak. Seeming to be in such fine form, the market has the 8-year-old gelding down with 8/1 odds of winning, with his closest challenger said to be Benie Des Dieux.
Although the Stayers’ Hurdle is arguably the one to watch, the Ryanair Chase is another race that also generates a lot of interest. Similar to the Stayers’ Hurdle, this is another steeplechase, only in this instance, it’s run over a smaller distance of two miles, with 17 hurdles to be jumped before the finish. To put those fences into perspective, the Stayers’ Hurdle only has 12.
At this moment in time, the market is alight with favourable odds for both A Plus Tard and Min, although after Min’s recent display at Leopardstown, questions regarding the gelding’s fitness have been raised. During the Dublin Chase, Min was easily beaten by Chacun Pour Soi, ridden by Paul Townsend. What made the clash between Min and Chacun Pour Soi so thrilling was knowing that both horses are trained by Willie Mullins, a trainer synonymous with winners of
Cheltenham. Even though Min wasn’t on top form that day, Mullins and pundits are still confident in the horse’s abilities, with odds set at 3/1.
Cheltenham Festival is still several weeks away, but already the racing community is in a frenzy as to who will claim victory at the main events of each Festival day. Although tips can change between now and March 10th, we suspect that Paisley Park and Min will be the horses to beat during the Day 3 festivities.