Cheltenham Festival – Day 3 Preview
Turners Novices’ Chase
Since its inception in 2011, Ireland have won 9 of the 12 runnings of this race, and it looks extremely likely they’ll be taking home the Turners Novices’ Chase in 2023.
Banbridge will be on plenty of people’s radar for this after staying on strongly to get up for second in last month’s Irish Arkle at Leopardstown. He should be seen to even better effect over this longer trip, but it would be a surprise if he could reverse the Drinmore form with Mighty Potter when finishing nearly 20-lengths behind him that day.
Appreciate it is another contender who should improve for this stiffer test of stamina. Even when winning Grade 1’s over the minimum trip over hurdles, he looked a horse that could scale even greater heights when stepped up in trip. He certainly can’t be ruled out, but age isn’t exactly on his side, with no nine-year-old winning any of the festival’s Grade 1 novice chases since Miinnehoma in 1992.
If he comes here as opposed to the Brown Advisory, Sir Gerhard certainly has the class to win a race like this. His jumping got better as the race went on at Gowran Park on his chase debut in January, but winning this on just his second start over fences looks a big ask for Willie Mullins’ eight-year-old.
Gordon Elliott wasted no time in sending MIGHTY POTTER chasing this season, and that decision has clearly been vindicated. He’s now 3-3 over fences, with two of those wins coming in Grade 1 company, and his comfortable victory at Leopardstown last month looked by far a career best.
5/4 looks short on the face of it, but plenty of the leading contenders could easily go elsewhere here, and the level of form Mighty Potter has shown so far this season makes him one of the bankers of the festival.
None of the festival markets have seen quite as much change as the Ryanair in recent weeks after Allaho was ruled out through injury. Fakir D’oudairies replaced him at the head of the market, but that was short-lived as Shishkin roared back to form in emphatic style in last month’s Ascot Chase.
Nicky Henderson’s superstar looked right back to his best day, and a reproduction of that effort will clearly make him extremely difficult to beat. He’s now odds-on for this race, and while he is by far the most likely winner, there does appear to be some better value to be found elsewhere.
Blue Lord has the option of this or the Champion Chase, and Conflated will almost certainly go for the Gold Cup, so the next best in the market appears to be Gigginstown’s other contender Fury Road. He ran a cracker when third behind Galopin Des Champs in the Irish Gold Cup last time, but with the majority of his best form coming over further, you’d have to question whether this step back in trip will see him to best effect.
A look through the rest of the runners and you’re struggling to find horses that would have the class to win a race like this, but one horse who certainly does have the class is ENVOI ALLEN. He bounced right back to form when beating Kemboy and Conflated at Down Royal back in November, but Henry De Bromhead’s horse took a backwards step when well-beaten in the King George on Boxing Day.
It appears that he might be a horse best caught fresh these days, so it’s no surprise to see them head straight here. Envoi Allen is without doubt a high-class performer, and a price of 12/1 in another festival race that looks certain to cut up is a rock-solid each way bet.
Last year’s Albert Bartlett winner Blazing Khal heads the market after his impressive reappearance effort in last month’s Boyne Hurdle. Charles Byrne’s lightly-raced seven-year-old looks open to plenty of improvement still, so it’s no surprise to have seen plenty of support for him of late.
Teahupoo won’t have been on many peoples lists for the Stayers' Hurdle at the start of the season, but victories in the Hatton’s Grace and the Galmoy this winter have propelled him towards the head of this market. Gordon Elliott’s improving six-year-old looks to have plenty of class, but he’s disappointed whenever he’s encountered decent ground in the past, so unless the rain comes, he looks opposable at around the 4/1 mark.
Home By The Lee is another who nobody would have been looking at for this back in the Autumn, but he’s taken his form to a new level this season, and while he’ll need to improve again, he’s by no means ruled out for Joseph O’Brien.
Marie’s Rock could turn up here, and in receipt of the mares allowance she’d be entitled to plenty of respect, and we haven’t even gotten onto the seasoned campaigners that are Klassical Dream and Paisley Park, so this is certainly not a race lacking in depth.
While he’s had far from the ideal preparation for Cheltenham this year, FLOORING PORTER seems to have been somewhat forgotten in this market. He’s seemingly had his setbacks of late, but Gavin Cromwell is a master of getting a horse ready for the big day, so providing he turns up in one piece, he’d have to have a huge chance of emulating Inglis Drever as a three-time winner of the race.
There’s not a chance that the 6/1 currently available with Coral will be around on the day, and providing he arrives there safely, he looks by far the most attractive bet in what admittedly is an extremely open Stayers' Hurdle.
Lewis Knowles, Coral PR Executive