Day 3 featured races quick links:
13:20 Marsh Novices Chase
14:30 Ryanair Chase
15:05 Stayers Hurdle
Bacardys (Paul Townend/Willie Mullins)
Sixth and third in the last two renewals of the race and has been soundly beaten on his two most recent starts. 0-12 in Grade 1s and looks up against it.
Beacon Edge (Sean Flanagan/Noel Meade)
Progressed this season, running Honeysuckle close in the Hatton’s Grace before winning the Boyne Hurdle at Navan on his latest start.
Ground might be on the quick for him here, but he’s a nice staying prospect.
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Flooring Porter (Jonathan Moore/Gavin Cromwell)
Began this season winning a summer Gowran handicap from a mark of 122 and progressed within the space of six months into a Grade 1 winner, beating Sire Du Berlais, Fury Road and The Storyteller in Leopardstown’s Christmas Hurdle under an audacious ride from Jonathan Moore.
Might find it harder to dominate from the front in that manner here, but he is on the improve.
Fury Road (Jack Kennedy/Denise Foster)
Close third in the Albert Bartlett last season and scraped home in a weak Grade 2 on his first start of this season.
Fourth in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle and ran Beacon Edge to within a neck in the Boyne last time. Probably needs improvement to win this, but his overall profile is solid and has an each-way chance.
If The Cap Fits (Daryl Jacob/Harry Fry)
Gained a Grade 1 staying hurdle victory when taking the Liverpool Hurdle in 2019.
Has looked ill at ease over fences in his novice chasing, so reverting back to this discipline is a huge plus. Wasn’t too far behind Paisley Park in the Cleeve last year, and his peak hurdles form would give him an each-way chance. May outrun his odds.
Lil Rockerfeller (Bryony Frost/Neil King)
Tough and hardy horse who was runner-up in the 2017 renewal of this race.
Fell a notch short of the top level in his prime and passed that peak nowadays. Very unlikely to land a blow.
Lisnagar Oscar (Harry Skelton/Rebecca Curtis)
Caused a 50-1 surprise when winning this last season, and looked to be coming back to within himself when a fine second in Haydock’s Rendlesham Hurdle last month.
Overall form is better at Cheltenham than elsewhere and it would be no surprise to see him produce his best effort of the season here. Respected.
Main Fact (Fergus Gillard/David Pipe)
Won nine races in a row in 2020, culminating in Haydock’s ultra-competitive Grade 3 Stayers’ Handicap. Had increased his OR by 50lbs up to that point, but he’s been beaten in open Graded race the last twice, and he’s probably reached the ceiling of his improvement now.
Paisley Park (Aidan Colema/Emma Lavelle)
The division’s dominant force across the past three years, winning seven consecutive races including the 2019 renewal of this event.
Was found to have an irregular heartbeat after his winning streak came in this last season and was outspeeded by Thyme Hill in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on his first season this season.
Turned the tables on that rival in the Long Walk, and the highly anticipated trilogy clash with Thyme Hill has been postponed due to Thyme Hill picking up a minor injury.
With his main threat now absent, his form looks a level superior to most of what his rivals in this race have achieved and he’s the one they all have to beat.
Reserve Tank (Robbie Power/Colin Tizzard)
Two-time Grade 1 novice hurdle winner in the spring of 2019.
Chasing didn’t quite go to plan, and returned to the smaller obstacles last month when fifth in the National Spirit.
That was a decent block to build from, but his future lies at a level lower than this and should be outclassed.
Sam Spinner (Joe Colliver/Jedd O’Keeffe)
Beaten favourite in this in 2018 but ran better when runner-up to Paisley Park in the 2019 renewal.
Enjoyed a decent spell novice chasing last season, but shaped as if amiss on seasonal return in the Charlie Hall and the reversion on his next to hurdles brought out no improvement.
He now has a lot to prove.
Sire Du Berlais (Mark Walsh/Denise Foster)
Won back-to-back renewals of the Pertemps Final here for the last two years, producing a fine performance to defy top-weight in last season’s event.
That was a Graded quality performance, so it was no surprise to see him to take a winning step into Grade 2 company in the Lismullen Hurdle first time out this season.
Behind Flooring Porter at Christmas, and the Irish form looks a notch below what the best of British have achieved here, but he’s respected on his return to his beloved Cheltenham.
The Storyteller (Keith Donoghue/Denise Foster)
Ten years old nowadays but his been in the form of his life mixing hurdling with chasing this season, notching his second Grade 1 victory in Down Royal’s Champion Chase as well finishing runner-up in Leopardstown’s Christmas Hurdle and the Irish Gold Cup.
Straightforward, likeable and can’t be disrespected en route to a tilt at the Grand National.
Vinndication (David Bass/Kim Bailey)
Over three years since he was last seen over hurdles, but his novice form was smart and he’s a good chaser as well, having ran Cyrname close in the Charlie Hall on his only completed start of the year.
Reverting back to hurdling is an interesting move, but he’s too short in the betting for my liking.
Younevercall (Ciaran Gethings/Kim Bailey)
Won a Sandown Grade 2 in 2019 but hasn’t quite reached that level again, though his fourth to Paisley Park in the Long Walk on his penultimate outing was a good effort.
Didn’t look himself last time, so that form shouldn’t be taken too literally, but he needs to find significant improvement to win this.