Cheltenham Tips: Mick Fitzgerald’s Day 3 top picks for Thursday

Mick Fitzgerald's got you covered for St Patrick's Day at the Cheltenham Festival.

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Turners Novices’ Chase (1:30pm) – Bob Olinger

This is the first time ever that we have had a race at the Cheltenham Festival with no British-trained runner in it. That’s amazing. I have gone round and round in my head between Galopin Des Champs and Bob Olinger and the market is even struggling to split them. It could come down to jumping and we know that Galopin Des Champs is a very good jumper.

He will make ground at the obstacles, but Bob Olinger is a very, very good horse and his ability to travel strongly through the race is assured. He just needs to improve his jumping a bit and the drying ground should help that. He might just get the better of Gallopin Des Champs in what will prove a fascinating contest.

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (2:10pm) – Alaphilippe

Alaphilippe ran a hell of a race in the qualifier at Warwick on his seasonal debut. He is definitely a player based on run when sixth in the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle last year. Sire du Berlais is a huge danger. Second in the Stayers’ Hurdle last year, he has won this race previously and, with Rob James taking 7lbs off his back, has to be of interest. It was a coin toss between the two and I just favour Fergal O’Brien’s runner, Alaphilippe.

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Ryanair Chase (2:50pm) – Allaho

Allaho looks too good for these and it’s left to Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup winner Conflated to be the biggest danger. Shan Blue was unlucky in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and has hasn’t run since but has been targeted at this race since then.

Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (3:30pm) – Thyme Hill

Flooring Porter is the reigning champion and his trainer Gavin Cromwell is hitting form at the right time. The concern for Flooring Porter fans is how he reacts to the crowd as Cheltenham was behind closed doors last year. He is a little bit of a nutcase and, with this being the middle race, I worry that he may blow his top with the preliminaries.

For that reason, I am going for the lightly-raced Thyme Hill who was placed in a Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle and  narrowly beaten by Champ in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot earlier this season, bouncing back from a poor seasonal debut at Auteuil. He has been kept fresh for this and could be the answer for an intriguing contest.

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Plate Handicap Chase (4:10pm) – The Glancing Queen

Trainer Alan King had his first winner at the Festival after a few years in the wilderness at Prestbury Park. He saddled 80 consecutive losers in that time at the four-day festival, until Edwardstone won the Arkle. The Glancing Queen had split L’Homme Presse and Oscar Elite (who was placed in a handicap chase on Tuesday) at Cheltenham and that is good form. Fusil Raffles would be of interest if the ground started drying out after Wednesday’s downpours.

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Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (4:50pm) – Grangee (each-way)

Grangee put up her best performance on decent ground when winning the a Punchestown Festival bumper when ridden by Patrick Mullins last season. Patrick is back on board and  she looks interesting at a backable each-way price.

Kim Muir Challenge Cup (5:30pm) – School Boy Hours

Noel Meade’s charge, School Boy Hours, won the Paddy Power Chase at Christmas and is probably one of the better treated Irish trained horses in this handicap chase. He’s 9lbs higher than when winning that competitive contest and that may be good enough for him to deliver again.

Mick Fitzgerald’s Cheltenham tips

Turners Novices’ Chase (1:30pm) – Bob Olinger
Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (2:10pm) – Alaphilippe
Ryanair Chase (2:50pm) – Allaho
Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (3:30pm) – Thyme Hill
Plate Handicap Chase (4:10pm) – The Glancing Queen
Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (4:50pm) – Grangee (each-way) 
Kim Muir Challenge Cup (5:30pm) – School Boy Hours

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