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Preview 14 Mar 2008

Day 3 Cheltenham Festival

A look back over yesterday and once again we had a performance that was just mind blowing in the shape and form of Master Minded who gave a lesson to the now former champion chaser in jumping and travelling, we now have a horse that would match the big 3 from a few years ago and unless one of the novices proves to be top echelon we could be looking at a dominating period for the horse and his already high profiled connections. Sure to be campaigned correctly he is only 5yo and is sure to hold his form for the fore sable future.

The Festival has already been proven to be one of the best in recent years as Inglis Drever did manage to create history by storming up the hill in front for the 3rd time and if it wasn't for the injury in the mud 3yrs ago he could well have 4 world hurdle titles next to his name and amongst the 4 time winners such as Arkle & Istabraq at this meeting and the greatest hurdler of all time, well played to connections of the horse and Howard Johnson and each jockey that has rode him to victory of course.

The Royal sun alliance chase wasn't a vintage race but the winner is a horse that you have to admire as he is like a katchit over fences. Mention for Boychuk In the Racing Post Plate, even though the winner won with authority a better jump down the back he would have been involved having tailed off after that effort that knocked him out of his rhythm, he flew home up the hill and wasn't far of getting placed, one to keep in mind. Well done to Our Vic who deserved his day?

The final day of the 4 and another bumper card to get on the way as we move courses. The ground is on the soft side of good and any more rain it could well become soft for the final day. We start on race 2.

1.05 Ballymore Properties Novice Hurdle

The wait is over if you have been waiting for this event after a 2 day delay the former Royal Sun Alliance hurdle lines up and it looks quite a decent field for this event as the staying novice brigade shape up well. The Irish will be looking for the Forpaddytheplaster to take this race after looking very impressive last time when dispatching cork all star who didn't cover himself in glory in the Supreme Hurdle. This longer trip should suit him, as he gets stronger as the race goes on and is sure to improve.

BreedsBreeze the Tolworth winner has been set some fairly stiff tasks this season by his trainer and has done nothing but improve, certain to be a chaser with a future next season he is the great hope for his owner of giving him future success like Best Mate. Stays well he should improve in time for more distance and looks ideal for next seasons royal sun alliance chase, which he could be a short price for after this race today. Group Captain has been a bit of a talking horse so far with his trainer looking most forward to the running of this horse today and ear marked it as his most exciting prospect of finding a winner. In Choc Thornton if the horse is good enough then he will get the assistance required to give it his best shot and with a fair amount of improvement promised for this trip and the ground not likely to cause to many problems he could well be hard to beat up the hill and rates as a live chance in this race.

The Favourite is likely to be in the golden hoops of JP Mcmanus in the shape and form of Aigle D'or and could be the start of a good final day for Nicky Henderson. Unlucky with Binocular in the supreme for the same connections, they will be looking for compensation in the staying division of the novice hurdle and with course form already in the book he is likely to go close under McCoy who could well end the day as leading jockey of this meeting which would be quite a feat for the champion jockey who was laid up stricken just a few weeks back. On form in the book has something to find with Breedsbreeze on what they have achieved but is more unexposed and certainly likely to show more improvement as we haven't got anywhere near to the bottom of him yet.

Advised Bet - Aigle D'Or 2pts win @ 5-1

1.40 The Coral Cup Handicap

Often one of the hardest handicaps to find the winner of as there is so much that can happen in the race with a tight packing fields and the hurdles coming quick and fast and the last two seasons the winner has been quite fancied and run away with the race and it may take some finding but there is certain to be a handicap blot amongst the dead wood that usual vacate this handicap.

Kicks for Free leads the weights after a quite taking performance last time but has his work cut out from top weight here and may find one or two to good for him at the weights. Bedlam Boy is another who looks a little high in the weights after a decent season last year where he won back-to-back races in the mud. The performance at Aintree behind Tidal Bay gives him allsorts of chances in this handicap and the Newcastle form prior to that run has been well franked this season and with a light campaign in which his return race was a sharpener for this event he could well be overpriced if improving once again which isn't out of the question as he has ideal conditions.

Song of songs looks to have quite a lenient mark after winning all out at Wincanton over a trip that may have been slightly short for him and could prove to be a handicap blot for James Bones Fanshawe who has landed a touch here before for JP Mcmanus and rates as a eye catcher of a low weight. The champ is back for the horse and the extra distance is certain to bring about more improvement from the horse and he could make a mockery of his current mark. Superior Wisdom for a small yard has done nothing wrong and deserves his chance in this handicap, while Noel Meade Clanzar is interesting here under the guidance of Slippers Madden. The first strings for the yard Orbit O Gold has some graded form in his native Ireland, but has looked a little hit and miss at times.

Philip Hobbs has a strong hand in this and county Zen who got a little outpaced over a shorter trip should improve for this trip and may well turn out to be the best for a yard who will be looking for joy in handicaps at this meeting with out a stable superstar to there name.

Advised Bet - Song of Songs 1pt e/w 13/2

2.15 The Truimph Hurdle

This could be a great day for JP Mcmanus whose hurdlers all seem to have strong chances today at the festival and if Francheok who is a warm favourite turns up in the form he has shown this season he could well take this in the same manner as last years winner and now champion hurdler Katchit. Trained by Alan King he should take all the beating here with much in his favour.

Brought earlier in the season, he could repay his new owner straight away here, already proven to be the leading juvenile, his only defeat came at this track when he had to give weight away and went down fighting. However most of the leading fancies for this race have either missed the race or been kept away from the jolly and today could be his first real test which he is certain to go close in.

Silver Hand for Ireland is eye catching having had only two outings over hurdles and the Meade yard look to reverse form with Beau Michel now the yard are in better form and given that it is only 3L there is reason to believe he is capable of turning the form around here today. Serabad is the most exposed horse in the field but often runs with credit he is capable of grabbing a place but needs to improve again to take this while the Paul Nichols Pair of Five Dream who has won well in handicaps and Celestial Halo who needs to bounce back to form are well respected in the make up of this race.

The favourite is likely to take all the beating and no surprise it is some people banker of the meeting, if you backed him antepost at 7-1 you are laughing as 6/4 is not a price to backing the favourite at with some very unexposed runners in the race, this one could go to Ireland.

Advised Bet - Silverhand 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (BF15's + 3's)

3.30 The Gold Cup

We skip the 3M novice hurdle for a spot of lunch and to get into the swing of things for the biggest race since the Mill house & Arkle Gold cups of the past and while there has been decent horses in between the two times, there has never been a more eagly awaited contest then this, with two stable mates battening all before them so far, the reigning champ versus the talented contender.

Denman is a superb athletic galloper with gears to go with it, while Kauto running style and ability to quicken is so fetching it is hard to tell what horse is the best suited to this track. Kauto Star could be a bridle horse with a strong cruising speed that finds when asked, where as Denman is all size and length. Usually the bigger horse prevails in terms of ability but the speed of Kauto legs is quite special and when falling at Exeter and remounting we saw just how quick the horse is when asked, Will Denman be able to take his rival apart and break his heart it is to be seen and whoever wins will no doubtly become the best rated horse since Arkle.

It's a match up to saviour and one that will put racing on the map. It is a two horse race as billed but Exotic Dancer if coming here with a clean prep would seriously worry the top two around here and Tony McCoy has often said he feels Exotic Dancer has what it takes to win a Gold Cup, it just isn't helped being around in the era of Kauto Star. Question marks over does Kauto Star stay, well he stayed well last season and was going away in this years King George, he should get the trip at a sound gallop and should get round as he is very adapt at correcting himself. Denman has only tasted defeat once at this track and with give in the ground his supporters will be hoping that doesn't happen again. Its very hard to split the two and don't let your heart rule your head is my only advice. No value in either so no bet, but I want Kauto to win but my head is telling me Denmania will be at bursting point come 3.40 today.

We catch our breath and await the grand annual.

4.40 The Grand Annual

Nicky Henderson will want to win this handicap again and his last winner of this handicap has had the same lay out to two years ago when making all around here to win in gutsy fashion. Greenhope however has a couple of years under his belt now and even though gentle raced he may need to drop a few more lbs in the handicap and the better option may be his other runner My Petra who is at the head of the market of a low weight.

A decent run behind Noland last time hasn't been franked but this is a much easier race then this seasons Arkle and he could be yet another Novice as a handicap blots. Lord Henry had a good prep for this race and comes here in hope, not always straightforward he has gone well at stiff tracks in the past and rates as a unexposed chance for trainer Philip Hobbs.

Last years winner Andreas dropped away a little tamely last time but will have been looked after since that comeback run, lost the championship for Ruby Walsh last season when Choc Thornton steered him to victory he will be looking to win this event again. The Irish have a decent challenger in Maralan who is on a bid for a hatrick and improving all the time while Enlightment at the foot of the weights needs to find more improvement and could well have it in his locker.

Almaydan and Calatagan are two more likely to run well after decent efforts this season, while it be wrong not to mention the chances of Hasty Prince as fixture in this race and looking to reverse form with Andreas on last seasons running. My Petra is likely to go close and could land it again for a likely emotional Nicky Henderson.

Advised Bets - 1pt win Maralan @ 12-1 (BF13's) + 2pts win My Petra @ 5-1 (BF11-2)

5.20 The County handicap hurdle

Never the easiest race to end the card but the county hurdle is always a charge to the finish line and if your horse is in with a chance at the last you can guarantee it will be pumped right the way out to the line as the jockeys go gung-ho for a Cheltenham winner. Hopefully by this stage everyone will be up for the festival or at least drunk!!!

Unexposed flat horses such as Freeloader and Mountain have a tendency to be a bit soft and It's a surprise to see Mountain in this handicap as he was well thought off, the last run was to bad to be true and he shouldn't be one to trust in the getting out stakes, Freeloader has been off for quite a while and even though going well fresh he doesn't strike me as a bet.

I'mSIngingtheblues catches the eye in this handicap having travelled up so well last time at Kempton before getting beaten off by more sprinting types. Looks likely to go over fences next season he is suited to this 17F around Cheltenham where he has shown some very good form and with the likes of Snap Tie running a place back on Tuesday he is one that could well be ahead of the handicapper under 11 stone 3lbs. Wannago is the form choice coming into this handicap but the Irish novice Dark Bolero isn't without a chance with a nice weight pull against Imsingingtheblues on Cheltenham form. The Irish have strong hand in this handicap with Eagle Pass, Victram and the Tony Martin trained favourite Psycho and wouldn't be no surprise to see them retain this prize after losing the champion hurdle on Tuesday.

Open looking affair and Mon Michel who departed early at the weekend could give Gary Moore another 2M success, he was well fancied at the weekend and should be picking up one of these soon enough he rates as another danger. Premier Dane finished well last season and has grade 1 class to call on he rates as a chance with Nicky Richards looking to get a much needed festival winner.

Advised bet - 1pt e/w I'Msingingtheblues @ 11-1 (BF12's+3's)

Best of luck all

Well Chief