Cheltenham day 3
BANBRIDGE remains fair value to win the Turners (1.30pm) at 4/1. A Festival winner already over the intermediate distance, he has likely overachieved against two milers this season, particularly in defeat behind El Fabiolo. It’s true that Mighty Potter has a hint of brilliance about him, but his form is not necessarily a whole lot stronger, and the O’Brien horse has very few chinks in his armour.
MAXXUM falls firmly into the ‘forgive one poor run’ category in the Pertemps (2.10pm), where he is priced at 6/1. When he won twice for his new stable in mid-winter, he was so good I had him pegged as a possible Stayers’ horse. His run at the DRF, when shuffled back under an inexperienced conditional and suffering a minor injury, was unfortunate enough not to be used as evidence against him, but has probably trebled his price. He still doesn’t look badly treated. As I’ve stated already, the likeliest outsider here is MILL GREEN, third in this last year, who had a lovely prep in his qualifier and still has plenty to offer at big odds (25/1), despite his advancing years.
FURY ROAD has a small chance of upsetting the applecart in the Ryanair (2.50pm) at 11/1. I appreciate Shishkin will very likely win – he was superb at Ascot. But this might represent a slightly sterner test in the conditions and it’s worth playing one at bigger odds each-way. The selection likes to race handily, and will be much more effective under those tactics back at this distance having looked the only horse who could actually live with Galopin Des Champs for a few strides in the Irish Gold Cup.
FLOORING PORTER has to be the percentage call in the Stayers’ (3.30pm) at his current odds of 6/1, which are frankly insulting. We know that he’s a quirky horse who might not always deliver, but he’s been nothing short of sensational at two Festivals, winning with tons in hand on both occasions. From a tactical standpoint, there’s quite a strong chance that he’ll get a relatively easy time of it on the lead as well. Of those at really big prices, I fancy Ashdale Bob to run into a place.
HAUT EN COULEURS is not bombproof, but could just outclass the Plate (4.10pm) field without coming under too much pressure. It’s true that he doesn’t look the doughtiest, but he’s been consistently asked some tough questions right from his early days. These waters are infinitely calmer, and there’s a case to be made that he could be carrying a few more pounds. And that’s before you account for Mikey O’Sullivan’s claim. He glided round here for much of the Arkle last year and will be far happier at this trip. He has a big chance at 17/2.
UNDER CONTROL might be worth chancing to get one over her better fancied stable mate in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle (4.50pm) at 12/1. She’s a latecomer to this party, but could hardly have been more impressive when shooting clear on the bridle at Newbury the other day. It’s worth noting she had two pretty smart flat horses toiling in her wake in what turned out a relative test of pace, and she shouldn’t be out of her comfort zone here. I’m taking a punt that she has a bit of something special and don’t mind doing that at double figure odds.
RAPPER is a bit of a wild one in the Kim Muir (5.30pm). Well, wild if you believe the market anyway, which has him at 28/1. He’s a very talented horse with just a hint of the night about him, and I can’t erase the memory of him looking like he should win the Pertemps but getting a sight of the lead way too soon. He was very impressive here earlier in the season, is still not badly treated on that form, and I like that connections are going for the first-time visor on the big day.