Sam Spinner headlines day three in his bid to win the Stayers’ Hurdle, perhaps the most open of the four Championship contests this year.
That appears the case on the betting at any rate, but Jedd O’Keefe’s rising star may prove that theory wrong on Thursday afternoon.
Sam Spinner was an excellent winner of the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, a key trial for this race, and has been kept fresh by connections since.
At six-years-old, he has plenty of scope to improve once again and could be the dominant force in the staying hurdles division over the coming seasons. There was much to like about his attitude at Ascot, where he made all the running and fended off repeated challenges. He can be crowned king in the Stayers’ at odds of 4/1.
Supasundae has been touted for this race for a while now and he’ll bid to complete trainer Jessica Harrington’s set of the four Championship contests at the Cheltenham Festival by winning here. His form in Ireland has been good, but it got a couple of knocks on Tuesday with the below-par performances of Faugheen and Apple’s Jade.
Old stager The New One finally gets a chance in this race having come up short in the Champion Hurdle repeatedly and a big run from Nigel Twiston-Davies’ star isn’t ruled out at odds of 12/1.
Thursday’s action gets underway with the JLT Novices’ Chase, a recent benefit for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, now seeking a fourth straight win in the race.
Invitation Only will be popular for them while unbeaten French import Terrefort also appears to have sound claims for Nicky Henderson having won both starts in Britain so far.
The mare Shattered Love took advantage of Monalee’s misfortune at Christmas and it is noted that Gordon Elliott sends her straight here. She has plenty ability and odds of 15/2 may be underestimating her chances of becoming the first mare to win this contest.
Jonjo O’Neill knows how to get the job done in the Pertemps Final, having scored with Holywell in 2013, and his Forza Milan is the sort of unexposed type for which a case can be built now.
He ran well over the trip at Aintree and Newbury before Christmas, second both times, and looks to have been laid out for this. Killian Moore takes off 3lb and they should go well at odds of 12/1.
The Ryanair Chase sees Un De Sceaux bidding to retain his crown and the ‘iron horse’ is favourite to do so at 6/5. He has looked as good as ever this season and is a tough nut to crack, but 2m5f in testing ground around here might just be enough to do it.
The popular veteran Cue Card could be the one to upstage him. Colin Tizzard’s charge ran a cracker at Ascot last month behind Waiting Patiently and, with similarly forceful tactics under Paddy Brennan here, could sign off his Cheltenham career with a second Ryanair Chase win – there would be no more popular result this week!
In the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, prolific winner Maria’s Benefit looks destined for a big run for trainer Stuart Edmunds. She’s won five on the bounce and is tenacious, ensuring she’s fancied at 6/1 to give a big scare to odds-on favourite Laurina for the Mullins and Walsh team.
Patrick Mullins showed his composure in winning the four-miler on Tuesday and he is the man to follow in the Amateur Riders contest that brings the curtain down on Thursday. Pat Kelly’s Mall Dini is a festival winner already and, at 5/1, looks set for a huge run here.
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