Ever since Big Buck’s and Imperial Commander landed me a life changing ante-post double-whammy in 2009 at 33/1 and 10/1 respectively, day three has always been my favourite Festival sojourn.
Of course that is all a load of old baloney in the context of subsequent renewals, but betting is sometimes about the psychology and in this instance I use it to the max.
So, as always, I am transparent about my ante-post situation with you and for Thursday I have already backed A Plus Tard for the Ryanair at 20/1 and Summerville Boy at 33/1 for the Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle.
Of course that puts me in a very strong position and if I want to, enables me to have a safety net follow up wager as well.
Since I penned my day two column last week, the ‘going’ situation has changed radically and the old cliché of it’s always good to soft on day one looks about to reveal it’s head again, so let’s base the rest f the meeting on those terms.
A Plus Tard has good form on all types of ground and is at his best going left handed. His victory in last year’s Close Brothers Handicap Chase was to my eyes the most impressive of the Festival. His defeat of Chacun Pour Soi in the Grade One Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at the back end of December a career-best effort.
He is the right favourite, but there is better each-way value to be had further down the betting list.
You can rely on the title holder and little terrier, Frodon, running his usual game race and many will see him as an each-way bet to nothing, but this year’s renewal is considerably better than last years.
If the Ryanair Chase was run at say Aintree or Newbury then on my private ratings, Min would be a 4/6 shot, but his Prestbury Park record of 2-2-5 leaves something to be desired, albeit that on all three occasions he had a distant view of the considerable big and classy backside of the mighty Altior.
I tried to convince NTD that Bristol de Mai should run here instead of the Gold Cup, but he was having nothing of it. In his absence the each-way value still left in the book has to be SAINT CALVADOS.
Harry Whittingham’s charge has largely gone under the radar, but this lightly raced son of Saint Des Saints, with a chase record of 5-11, has to be respected. He just ran a tad too free in last year’s Champion Chase when ultimately well behind Altior, but with Frodon set to lead the charge here I suspect Gavin Sheehan will ride him with a lot more patience.
If that is the plan, then I could easily see this rangy gelding hitting the frame and even better if the leading protagonists run below par.
Having landed the booty with my 33/1 ante-post punt on Paisley Park last year, I wouldn’t begrudge this absolute machine successfully defending his title again in the Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle and he is quite obviously the most likely winner.
Although he did give me the shock of all shocks as I was standing by the final hurdle 12 months ago almost coming to grief before finding a leg!
As I said, Summerville Boy has already been played at big odds each-way and I suspect he will find further improvement in a faster run race than in the Cleeve Hurdle going three miles again. So if Benie Des Dieux goes to the Mares Hurdle which looks likely, this could turn into a rare old tussle between these two outstanding stayers.
Emitom and City Island are respected for merely being the least exposed of the younger brigade, but PENHILL would be my back up each-way bet especially if we get say good (good to soft in places) on the day. He has been running well on deep ground this winter and Willie Mullins has finally had a clear run with him this season for the first time since he landed this title in 2018.
I cannot believe, nor would I understand, if for one nano second Joseph O’Brien even considered running FAKIR D’OUIDARIES in the Arkle. He simply doesn’t have the pace to live with the speedsters over two miles, even more so when you bare in mind the likely going and the MarshChase IS his race.
The five-year-old would be the best bet of the day at around 5/1 to get the better of Itchy Feet and Faugheen, no sentiment allowed here.
The Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final looks a cracking renewal. Sire Du Berlais has his work cut out off a significantly higher mark to land back to back wins against some younger, progressive sorts and stable mate, The Storyteller, is preferred of the duo.
Former bumper hero Relegate and Phoenix Way are both respected, but the one piece of outstanding value in this book is the Henry Daly trained RAPPER at a juicy 25/1.
Second to another of his rivals here Skandiburg at the track on New Year’s Day, on preferred terms he has every chance of reversing that form. I have actually upgraded that run as he was in the firing line throughout and was coming back at his conqueror on the final climb.
The third and fourth, Kilbricken Storm and The Jam Man, have both run well since and that looks ultra-solid form to take into this competitive staying heat.
As per normal the Brown Advisory Handicap Chase looks tough at this stage of the entry system, but pushed into a play I would nominate KILDISART (better chance here than in the Ultima) and big outsider IMPERIAL PRESENCE against the field.
*Prices and entries are correct but can change and all prices are part of Paddy Power’s pre-Festival non runner money back offer.