Day three features arguably the most open of the four Championship races at this year’s Festival, certainly on the betting, in the Stayers’ Hurdle (15.30).
Despite the seemingly open nature, Sam Spinner is fancied to justify the faith of trainer Jedd O’Keefe and take plenty of beating at odds of 9/2.
He has looked a most progressive staying hurdler of late and was a very gallant winner of the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December when last spotted. Connections have elected to keep their powder dry for this contest ever since.
Given that he’s just six-years-old, that is understandable, and Sam Spinner could have a dominant future in this division ahead of him.
Supasundae is viewed as perhaps his chief rival at 5/1 for trainer Jessica Harrington, seeking to complete her set of the four big races at the Cheltenham Festival.
He’s looked good in Ireland this season, though his form arguably took a couple of knocks given the efforts of Faugheen and Apple’s Jade on Tuesday.
Sam Spinner has plenty scope for progress here and is tipped to confirm his enormous promise.
Thursday’s action gets underway with the JLT Novices’ Chase (13.30), a recent benefit for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, seeking a fourth straight win in the race.
Invitation Only is their choice this season and has fair form on the board already, ensuring he’s respected at 11/4. Terrefort unbeaten in two starts for Nicky Henderson is also a big presence but Gordon Elliott’s mare Shattered Love, at 15/2, is well worth a chance in what doesn’t appear the strongest renewal of this contest.
The Pertemps Final is, as ever, typically hard to call but Jonjo O’Neill appears to have saved Forza Milan for this race. He’s unexposed over the trip and can go well at 12/1 with 3lb claimer Killian Moore on board for the trainer that won this race in 2013.
The Ryanair Chase (14.50) has cut up somewhat, leaving defending champion Un De Sceaux with a great chance to go in again for Mullins and Walsh.
Very testing ground would be some concern for him over 2m5f and while the head says he’ll win, the heart would dearly love to see 11/2 chance Cue Card signing off his wonderful career with a third Festival success and second in the Ryanair for trainer Colin Tizzard. There won’t be a dry eye for miles should he manage it.
In the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, prolific winner Maria’s Benefit looks sure make a bold bid to defy odds-on favourite Laurina and is an each-way option 6/1 while Pat Kelly’s former Pertemps winner Mall Dini should be primed for a big run under Patrick Mullins in the concluding race at odds of 5/1.
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