Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Two Dreamy Outsiders to Note on Day 3

The runners and riders in last year's Marsh Novices' Chase.

The runners and riders in the 2019 Marsh Novices’ Chase.

Cheltenham Festival 2021 Outsider Tips

He’s so good, we’ve invited him to be part of our Cheltenham Festival plans and Daniel Overall has started by identifying two outsiders to back on Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival.

Paint the Dream (25/1 Paddy Power Plate)

With the removal of the Novices’ Handicap Chase, it was widely thought that the Plate would absorb many of those that would’ve lined up on Day 1 but on assessing the entries, that scenario doesn’t appear to have transpired.

Instead, the race has a very open look to it; the Gigginstown duo of Farclas and Conflated head the market while the likes of Caribbean Boy and The Shunter are fascinating contenders; but the fact that all bar the former Triumph Hurdle winner and the recent Morebattle Hurdle winner are readily available at double-figure odds tells the story of a race which is yet to fully take shape.

With that in mind, Paint the Dream makes plenty of appeal at a big price.

A second-season novice, he was highly tried at times last season and at times he displayed a great deal of promise; his second-place finish behind Midnight Shadow in the Dipper was as superb run considering he was only rated 130 at the time (although he would’ve been third if Champ didn’t come down at the second last). While he failed to build on that last term, the fact that connections were prepared to run him in Grade 2 company despite his lowly mark is an indication to the regard in which he is held.

His first three starts this season took his tally to 0/8 over fences and it appeared as though he may never realise his potential, until he sprung a 16/1 surprise to win a competitive novices’ handicap at Newbury in impressive style off 137; the highly regarded Dickie Diver was back in second while the subsequent Reynoldstown runner-up, Demachine was back in third.

Raised ten-pounds for that success, he was propelled into Grade 1 company on his most recent start where he ran a valiant race in the Scilly Isles. Up with the pace throughout, he and Shan Blue helped to set a relentless gallop which would set the race up for the patiently ridden Sporting John. The time of the Scilly Isles was over nine-seconds quicker than the handicap chase on the same card and considering the calibre of the opposition, Paint the Dream did extremely well to finishing third.

His recent improvement has coincided with a marked improvement in his jumping and the adoption of front-running tactics. Fergal O’Brien noted after his Newbury win that “we’d done a lot of schooling at home” and that “there are more races in him”. His jumping and new found run style will hold him in good stead in the Plate; in the last ten renewals, three winners made all while five others were prominent throughout.

With the past five winners of this race being novices or second-season chasers while the previous seven winners were all running off marks in the 140s, there is plenty to like about his profile considering he’s coming off the back of two career best efforts over fences. Road to Respect (2017) and The Storyteller (2018) both won this race having contested a graded novice chase on their previous start; hopefully a similar fate awaits Paint the Dream.

Chris’s Dream (33/1 Ryanair Chase)

As is often the case with the Ryanair, this year’s renewal has an open if not messy look it at present, so it could be well worthing using some of your Cheltenham Festival free Bets on the race

Willie Mullins holds an enviably strong hand, with Allaho, Min and Melon all looking set to run here. However, you can conceivably question the claims of all three. Allaho is 0/5 in Grade 1 company and while he still has time on his side, there must be a question as to whether he’s quite up to this standard. Ruby Walsh declared Min to be a faster horse than Allaho although last years winner blotted his copybook at the Dublin Racing Festival which leaves him with something to prove. Melon deserves a Cheltenham victory after four successive second place finishes but he’s now 0/16 at the highest level and may well find one or two too good once again.

There is also a question mark about how each of the Mullins battalion will be ridden. All three like to force to pace although Willie won’t allow all three to take each other on. Still, they are all likely to be prominent and if you add the likes of Imperial Aura and Dashel Drasher into the mix, we could get a strongly run affair.

And a strongly run race over an intermediate trip could be exactly what Chris’s Dream needs to bring out the best in him.

An emphatic winner of the 2019 running of the Troytown off 146, he backed that up with an impressive success in the Red Mills which tempted connections into running in the Gold Cup. Despite being wide throughout and jumping slightly to his right, which was probably exacerbated by his position, he shaped with a great deal of promise and he still held every chance as the field turned for home; although admittedly, you could say the same for more than half of the field that day.

He only weakened late on with the 3m2f trip looking to stretch his stamina and despite having raced primarily over three-miles, I’ve never been convinced that he’s a thorough stayer. That point was born out on his first start this season which came in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase, where he travelled extremely well as he hit the front, only to be outstayed by The Storyteller. Disappointing next time out in the John Durkan, the thick fog made assessing that race a tough task but he didn’t appear to have an obvious excuse; perhaps the testing ground after a hard race last time out was too much for him to handle.

Encouragement can be taken from Henry De Bromhead’s recent stable tours, as was keen to note that he has been trained specifically for the Ryanair. He’s also a horse with an extremely good record when fresh, so the 102-day absence is very much a positive for his chances, while five of the last twelve winners of this race hadn’t run since Christmas.

Officially rated 164 in Ireland, he doesn’t have much to find with many of his rivals; he recorded an RPR of 167 when winning both the Troytown and the Red Mills last season, while Min recorded an RPR of 172 when winning the Ryanair. Perhaps he is just a tad short of Grade 1 standard so he will need a career best to win this, but the setup of this race may just enable him to deliver one. Given that he arrives fresh and he’s been aimed at this race, 33/1 seems too big.