Cheltenham Festival Day Three – Through The Card Selections

One of the biggest clashes of this season’s Festival looks set to take place in the opener on Thursday. Here are our through the card selections on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.

Galopin Des Champs (Turners Novices’ Chase)

The clash we all wanted is here and the supporting cast have barely bothered to show up.

Bob Olinger and GALOPIN DES CHAMPS meet in the opener on day three. Bob brings last season’s tremendous Ballymore winning form to the table as well as two unbeaten starts over fences, with few of his rivals able to lay a glove on him.

Galopin Des Champs, however, improved throughout his novice season, before embarking on what has been a hugely impressive start to his chasing career. He won by 22 lengths on his debut at Leopardstown before coasting home in Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival.

His jumping has been something to behold and while Bob Olinger is a fearsome rival, he is taken to come out best.

Dunboyne (NAP) (Pertemps Final)

Sneaking in at the bottom of the weights for the Pertemps Final is DUNBOYNE, who might well find himself cruising in conditions that others sink in.

His formbook does not make for particularly pretty reading recently, but his only run on soft ground this season saw him put in easily his best performance when fifth in a qualifier for this at Leopardstown. That is how he got into this race.

He may have finished even closer but for being impeded that day and his mark may well have been immaculately watched given he has made the race on the number. His last two runs on heavy saw him finish second in a maiden hurdle to the talented Capodanno (4th in the Brown Advisory on Wednesday), before winning one himself.

Sire Du Berlais is the yard’s other big hope, but Dunboyne looks a plot in the making.

Allaho (Ryanair Chase)

Without the Ryanair Chase, ALLAHO may have found himself in Noman’s Land.

As it is, the star intermediate chaser in Britain and Ireland has found his place unrivalled at the top of this division. In days of yore, he would have been pushed into either the Champion Chase, which boasts a truly remarkable number of top names, or the Gold Cup, involving a trip over which he may struggle to get home.

Last year’s Ryanair turned into a procession, with Allaho scoring by an unchallenged 12 lengths. He poured it on from an early stage that day and there’s a chance a repeat performance is in the offing.

He was even more brilliant in his warm up race at Thurles than he had been a year previously and may have won the strongest Grade 1 of the season so far when taking the John Durkan on his reappearance. He is virtually unopposable.

Flooring Porter (Stayers’ Hurdle)

Last year’s winner, who was on such a roll coming to Cheltenham, has now found himself winless since.

FLOORING PORTER was a ready winner from the front 12 months ago, with Danny Mullins judging an excellent pace. If anything, despite three defeats, he is the market leader whose reputation has suffered the least damage this term.

He does have a tendency for antics, not least when wanting to run off both the Punchestown and Navan tracks in April and November respectively. However, after losing ten lengths to Klassical Dream in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown, he managed to claw back the deficit to two lengths.

With this track having suited wonderfully last season, he can be trusted to give his running and should be much closer to the pace without trouble. 

Fusil Raffles (Plate Handicap Chase)

This was a tricky puzzle to decode, but it’s worth falling upon Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old to give his running here.

FUSIL RAFFLES benefited from Shan Blue’s late fall to clean up the Charlie Hall at Wetherby earlier in the season. Since then, he was a good fourth in the Racing Post Gold Cup before well beaten at Doncaster.

However, his record at Cheltenham is reasonably sound, including a novice win on soft ground, where he conceded 3lb to Chantry House. While that form is unreliable, he is capable of reaching high levels on his day.

That includes finishing second in last year’s Turners Novices’ Chase to that same stablemate and a mark of 149 appeals.

Grangee (Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle)

A couple of the antepost favourites for this race aren’t to show up, which has opened up the market.

The quirky Brandy Love and inexperienced Dinoblue are atop the betting, but there is certainly value to be had elsewhere. A stablemate of the duo, GRANGEE might be the pick of those.

She was impressive in beating the boys on her debut, and was only beaten 4 ¾ lengths in an open Grade 1 behind Mighty Potter at Leopardstown after Christmas. She escapes a penalty unlike a few above her on the racecars for not having won a Graded contest yet.

There is every chance she might have won the Fairyhouse Grade 3 which a few in this lineup contested, only to fall late on. Her jumping can be sketchy over her hurdles, but she is usually swift enough and looks a good value option.

Mister Fogpatches (Kim Muir)

If this turns attritional, as well it might after Wednesday’s downpour, it may be worth doing battle with a horse who has experience of challenging stamina contests.

MISTER FOGPATCHES fits that bill perfectly. He was third in last season’s Scottish National and won at the Punchestown Festival over 3m7f last May. That was his last victory, but he has finished in the top four of all five starts this term.

He was second over course and distance in December off 1lb lower, but he found himself quite a way back that day. In heavier conditions, he should remain comfortably with the pace and he backed that up with a solid third to Longhouse Poet in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran on soft.

Being only 4lb above that mark looks generous in relation to some of the Irish handicap marks and he could go very close under Patrick Mullins.