Top tipster Simon Rowlands has three selections for day three of the Cheltenham Festival, including an underdog in the Ryanair Chase and a strong fantasy in the Turners Novices’ Chase.
You may now be under the (generally correct) impression that I tend to like to take horses at a discount if I consider them vulnerable, even from a distance. All you have to do is watch enough races to realize that many can go wrong, such as with pacing or jumping, to drop a horse below its best.
On Thursday at Cheltenham we have a horse at odds who managed to beat one at double digit odds by just two lengths the last time they met which was the last time the latter ran at his best trip, and last time it ran smoothly.
The stroke of luck is allahowho offers to repeat his victory in the Ryanair Chase at 2.50, and the outsider is JANIDILwho is likely to bring him closer even if he fails to get out of it.
When they faced off in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in December, Allaho came out on top but was all set to do so as Janidil achieved a new personal best. The selection has been beaten twice since, both times at Leopardstown at three miles, which seems to be just beyond him, and both times in top form.
Janidil finished fifth behind Cheltenham Gold Cup favorite Galvin in the Savills Chase at Christmas and then third at Confused in the Irish Gold Cup last month. This last race was messy in which Conflated perhaps had a tactical advantage. This one is about half the price of Janidil in their own personal rematch here anyway.
There are a few other plausible candidates to benefit if Allaho is out of his ‘A’ game, or to run into a spot if he doesn’t. But it’s not too hard to find a few holes in their resume.
Saint-Calvados burst a blood vessel when last seen, Shan Blue hasn’t been seen since falling (when winning easily, but from second-rate opposition) in October and may not be at his best in such deep ground anyway, and El Dorado Allen improved to 23f last time (it’s 20.5f) and tends to get overshot at a crucial stage.
Janidil’s best probably sets him up and gives him a shot at something even better. I wouldn’t have it bigger than 8/1, even against a supreme talent like Allaho, and Ryanair’s form this year is friendly in every way. That will be enough for me.
There is no clear favourite, let alone a clearly attractive alternative to that favourite, for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at 3:30, but we have the last three race winners (Paisley Park in 2019, Oscar Lisnagar in 2020, and floor carrier in 2021).
It might make it look like a vintage edition, and it’s good to see a lot of familiar faces on display, but it’s also a reflection of what we experienced in a time when the crown was passed down, not a Big Buck’s era.
At least half of the 10 runners could achieve a 160+ rated performance during their day, but almost all 10 have doubts or others around them. classic dream is probably the best of them, but he’s had a rocky career and ran badly last time out. I will avoid having a bet in this minefield and hope we get a Big Buck type winning performance.
I will now seem to contradict what I wrote earlier by offering a discounted selection. The horse in question is not a favorite (at the time of writing), but I believe it should be. Thursday’s card begins at 1:30 p.m. with a Turners Novices’ Chase that has only four runners but two possible superstars.
Bob Olinger looked like this when he won the Ballymore at the Festival 12 months ago, but his two wins from two on the fences have been somewhat professional (if high quality). He could be very good as a hunter but he’s not yet.
FIELD GALOPIN also won two out of two over taller hurdles, both at Leopardstown, but he was a bit of a spectacle, winning by 22 lengths on his debut there and then handing out a nine-length thrashing to Master McShee at Dublin Racing .
This rival has since run superbly in defeat giving weight to the seasoned horses of Graded. A literal interpretation of this form suggests that Galopin des Champs would approximate Ryanair Chase, regardless.
He may not be as good as it suggests, but he is natural over bigger obstacles, suitable for travel and efficient on the move (it was more taxing than officially given when he won at Punchestown in April ). I wouldn’t have it bigger than 4/6 so it’s a current odds bet.
I find the two handicap chases – the plate at 4.10 and the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir at 5.30 – to be too close to untangle, but the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at 2.10 might be another matter.
ALAPHILIPPE looks the one to beat in the former, having trained very well (but as if racing was really necessary) when he was fifth in qualifying for it at Warwick in January. It stays good, acts on the pitch and is worth a punt, even now some of the fanciest prizes are gone.
The bookmakers offer attractive conditions in each direction and it is worth availing yourself of them.
I nibbled powerful blue ante-post at a price in the Mares ‘Novices’ Hurdle at 4.50 – a race in which she was third against stronger opposition 12 months ago – but I’m concerned about the ground so won’t follow it as a tip. The shape of the favourite, DinoblueWorked pretty well, it has to be said.
Simon Rowlands’ picks:
Turners Novice Pursuit (1.30) – FIELD GALOPIN (2 points earned)
Pertemps Networks Final Handicap Hurdle (2.10) – ALAPHILIPPE (1pt e/w – at least six places)
Ryanair Fighter (2.50) – JANIDIL (0.5pts e/w)