And they’re off … Stage Star, as expected, is off fast and James Du Berlais makes a mistake at the first fence … Mighty Potter is pulling a little hard … Balco Coastal is in second in the early stages … all travelling OK with a circuit to go … Notlongtillmay now second … Appreciate It makes a minor mistake … Stage Star leads with three to go … Notlongtillmay challenges … Stage Star clears the last and kicks clear for a great win.
Turners Novice Chase (1.30pm) market movers
The punters have got a lot more right than they have wrong so far this week, with five more winners at single-figure odds on Wednesday to add to six on Tuesday, and there will be plenty of cash rolling over onto Mighty Potter in this opening event on day three. His stablemate Gerri Colombe was touched off in the three-mile novice on Wednesday, but Gordon Elliott’s fans have not been deterred and his runner here was supported from odds-against to odds-on on Wednesday.
Punters looking to oppose him at that price will probably alight on Appreciate It, lightly-raced since his devastating 24-length success in the 2021 Supreme Novice Hurdle and likely to be suited by the step up to this trip, while the form of Banbridge’s 10-length second behind El Fabiolo in February was boosted when the winner followed up in Tuesday’s Arkle. Balco Coastal could prove to be the best of the Brits, having finished close behind Gerri Colombe at Sandown in February, but this looks to be Mighty Potter’s to lose.
SELECTION: Mighty Potter
If you read Barry Glendenning’s feature on Comeback Kid Davy Russell in this morning’s edition or on your tablet you’ll know Michael O’Leary had his say on the jockey’s return to the saddle – spoiler alert: he didn’t like it. Russell had his say on ITV Racing’s The Opening Show this morning … “I have about as much respect for Michael O’Leary’s opinion as he has for my opinion!” It’s worth a watch and intriguingly Russell rides Fury Road for O’Leary in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham today.
Monopolies Commission alert!
Here’s your updated list of non-runners …
In a horse racing first, the Jockey Club teamed up with electronic music producer DJ Cuddles to release a brand new dance track for the Cheltenham Festival. Cuddles himself was spinning the discs in the Best Mate Pavilion yesterday afternoon but it sounds as if the crowd was not into rave!
Your Thursday market movers … from Oddschecker
Gold Tweet [Stayers’ Hurdle] 11/1 – 4/1
Marvel De Cerisy [Plate Handicap Chase] 25/1 – 10/1
Magical Zoe [Mares’ Novice Hurdle] 9/1 – 13/2
Lot Of Joy [Mares Novices Hurdle] 6/1 – 4/1
Appreciate It [Turners Novice Chase] 10/3 – 5/2
Meet Mr Jack Andrews. He was a journeyman jockey until this morning and now he’s famous thanks to starring on the front page of the ooo-ahh Daily Star. Jack, who is riding Anightinlambourn in the 5.30 today, is the tallest jockey in the world. So obviously the Star sent their most vertically challenged reporter to interview him. Our friends at BestofBests report the punters have latched onto the news and his mount has been backed into 16’s from 25-1. Things might be looking up for Jack … ouch!
Scratch these off your list of possible wagers – they won’t be running
1.30pm Turners Novice Chase
3 Banbridge (Going)
4 Christopher Wood (Self Certificate, Going)
2.10pm Pertemps Handicap Hurdle
16 Jet of Magic (Self Certificate, Abscess)
5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase
13 Chambard (Vet’s Certificate, Abscess)
This big question today is how squidgy it’s going to be. The official going suggests it’s going to be less testing than yesterday as the verdict is … Soft, Good to Soft in places … There has been four millimetres of rain in the last 24 hours and Thursday is forecast to be mainly dry, with drizzle/light showers possible (1-2 mm). For the latest TurfTrax going report click here.
One of the key points is that the action moves to the New Course today so the horses will be running on fresh ground.
It took a while for the Thursday of Cheltenham week to grow into its new role as the third day of four, but in recent years it has been second only to Gold Cup day itself in terms of attendance, and the glorious afternoon in 2019 when Paisley Park and Frodon took the feature events is fondly remembered by many as one of the best days at the Festival in recent decades.
So it will be interesting to see whether today’s train strikes will have an impact on the third day’s popularity, and put a dent in the Festival’s balance sheet in the process. Some regulars who travel by train may, of course, simply drive instead, but the prospect of enduring Carmaggedon both in and out of the course could also persuade others to sit it out on the sofa.
If the crowd does take a hit, the “Dammit, I wasn’t there” moments for stay-at-home fans could potentially include a repeat of Paisley Park’s success four years ago, as the evergreen stayer is back for a fifth crack at the feature event and not entirely out of it according to the bookies, who put him in at around 20-1.
It is a strong field up against him, however, and a more international one than usual too, with Gold Tweet, from Gabriel Leenders yard in France, attempting to follow up his Cleeve Hurdle success here in January. Flooring Porter is back to attempt to complete a hat-trick, while Teahupoo, who was the first horse to beat former Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle earlier in the year, could be the best of the younger generation.
Elsewhere on the card, Shishkin will bring a tear to Nicky Henderson’s eye if he can put last year’s failure in the Queen Mother Champion Chase behind him and score a third Festival success in all in the Ryanair Chase. Mighty Potter, meanwhile, will attempt to get the punters straight onto the front foot for the third day running when he sets off at odds-on in the opening Turner’s Novice Chase.
As ever, you can follow all the action throughout the day here on the live blog, so whether you are strikebound at home or soldiering on regardless, let’s hope it’s another Festival Thursday to remember.