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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Cheltenham Value Punts – Day 3

Day three is often the trickiest at the Cheltenham Festival, with three handicaps among the seven races and some of the most competitive Grade 1s. To help solve the riddle, Matty Sutcliffe has a bumper eight selections for you to follow throughout the day.

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1:30 Cheltenham – Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Letsbeclearaboutit 20/1 1pt EW 3 places 

Bar the rank outsider Jamaico, the Turners field are tightly packed on ratings with just 8lb separating the other ten runners (Colonel Harry 147 – Ginny’s Destiny 155) and I expect it’ll be a fiercely competitive contest, with the whole field looking priced accordingly. 

There’s a few I can confidently rule out: Iroko is awfully short for one who was deemed to be out for the season with a foot injury, and it’ll be a huge ask for him to win off a 128 day layoff on likely soft/drying sort of tacky ground. 

Zanahiyr has been consistently disappointing and hasn’t looked a natural over fences, scrambling home against Aspire Tower next time out, and Sharjah has come up short in Grade 1 company the last three times, beaten 32 lengths over this trip at Fairyhouse in December. 

Ginny’s Destiny has been touted as the next Stage Star, but I’m of the opinion he’s been given some excellent rides this season under Harry Cobden, and would have surely been beaten by Grey Dawning over course and distance in December, and the latter is probably a worthy favourite. 

Facile Vega is somewhat of a head-scratcher as he continues to disappoint despite Willie Mullins always holding him in high regard and while he shapes as if further will suit, he dropped out sharply at Leopardstown last month and his jumping still leaves something to be desired. 

It’s interesting that they’ve swerved the Plate Handicap with LETSBECLEARABOUTIT who was prominent in the market for that contest, instead opting to utilise his Novice status in here. Nine of his 16 career starts have come in Graded company, with his form reading 24244133, and he was a solid fourth when racing keenly in the Albert Bartlett last season, shaping as if stepping down in distance would suit. He began life over fences with a comfortable success at Gowran Park, posting a 2lb higher RPR than Banbridge did in the race in the previous season. He then backed up that effort over the Turners distance again in a Grade 3 at Cork with another comfortable success, jumping well throughout and winning hard held. Despite beaten at 5/4F in the Grade 1 Drinmore next time out, he lost nothing in defeat having finished five lengths behind Arkle hope Found A Fifty, and seven lengths behind the well placed I Am Maximus, who won the Irish Grand National last season and took the Grade 3 Bobbyjo chase last time out having finished finished Galopin Des Champs twice in between drinks. 

Although he was a beaten favourite again at Fairyhouse, that was his first effort in a handicap and he was only beaten five lengths giving 13lb and 11lb to the 2nd and 1st respectively, and we can possibly draw a line through his 18-length third at Naas as that was only fifteen days later, and the heavy ground over 3m1f may have just stretched him. He’s been freshened up since then and dropping back to the intermediate trip on the New Course, where he ran well on last season will play to his strengths. There is the suspicion that he doesn’t find much off the bridle, but with the likes of Le Patron, Ginny’s Destiny and Djelo all wanting to force the pace, this strong travelling son of Flemensfirth could benefit off a stalking ride, picking them off close to home. Cromwell and Donoghue have dominated multiple races at Cheltenham this season, with the latter 2/2 in non-handicap chases and 5/10 overall.

Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller) (GBB Race)
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2:10 Cheltenham – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Flight Deck 40/1 0.5pt EW / Alpesh Almin 25/1 0.5pt EW 6 places 

A notoriously tricky handicap to dissect, given we effectively have to decipher it by ‘which horse ran the best by trying the least’ last time out. Toward the bottom of the market I thought FLIGHT DECK was of interest, who was seen twenty lengths down the field in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle in January. That was as good a run as could be expected, but he ran an almighty race in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle, splitting Marie’s Rock (152) and Paisley Park (157), with the former placing in the Grade 2 Relkeel behind Bob Olinger and winning a Grade 2 Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster last time out, then the second (Paisley Park) filled that spot in the Cleeve Hurdle next time out. Take away Flight Deck’s effort last time out, then off a mark of 144, with Chris Ward taking 3lb off, he looks very well-handicapped on that Newbury form. He qualified for the Pertemps in October when third in first time blinkers, having made most of the running by a wide margin. He was entitled to weaken but clung on to the lead for some time, giving 9lb and 10lb to the pair in front. A repeat of that effort could see him outrun his odds and fill the frame, and he won’t mind which way the ground turns up. 

The other selection has a completely different profile to Flight Deck, in that he’s a progressive seven-year-old who shaped last time out as if he’s still way ahead of his mark. ALPESH AMIN recorded his third career success last time out under an excellent ride by Conor McNamara, having initially lined up prominent before dropping out based on the quick early gallop. The son of Flemensfirth was held up throughout, before quickly circling the field and joining in from nowhere on the home turn, jumping the second last still firmly on the bridle, before picking up well in attritional conditions, staying on strongly through the line. A 7lb rise could have been much worse though he runs off a 12lb higher mark here, and he needed that for him to sneak, right in at the bottom of the weights. 

Those quieter tactics suited him, and the Pertemps is often favoured by those held up, and on the balance of his Irish form an initially inflated mark of 130 might not be enough to prevent him from a similar performance form last time out.

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race)
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2:50 Cheltenham – Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy) (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Protektorat 10/1 1pt WIN + Conflated 8/1 1pt WIN 

PROTEKTORAT featured in my ante-post Lucky 15 so I won’t go into depth as you can see it on our site, but the recent surge of rain has only boosted my confidence as we know he stays further, so should it turn into a test of stamina than he’ll be sure to be amongst the finish. 

The other I want to back here has a similar profile to Protektorat in that he’s come up short against better opposition over further and this drop back to 2m4f should suit. The one worry with CONFLATED is that he’s prone to a race-ending error, which is probably reflected in his price here. He was still running well in both of his last starts in Grade 1 company against Galopin Des Champs, and prior to that was only a length behind Ryanair favourite Envoi Allen in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal when outstayed by Gerri Colombe. 

He’s unraced over this distance since falling two out in the 2022 Ryanair when likely booked for second behind Allaho having travelled snugly into contention, and should he pass the jumping test late on then this drop back in trip on soft ground should see him go very well. 

Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy) (Grade 1) (GBB Race)
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3:30 Cheltenham – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo+) – Dashel Drasher 33/1 1pt EW 5 places 

You could run this race several times and have a different outcome each time. Teahupoo was a beaten favourite in this contest last season when 9/4f under prime conditions and he looks worth taking on again at 2/1. Though his record fresh reads 11111111, coming to the Stayers’ fresh on soft enough ground is a different kettle of fish, and Impaire Et Passe hasn’t boosted that Hatton’s Grace form. 

The one who’s wildly overpriced in here is last year’s second DASHEL DRASHER, who doesn’t know how to run a bad race and is still thriving upon his racing at the age of 11. The selection was travelling sweetly on the front end in the Cleeve Hurdle, jumping the last in front only to be swamped late on. He gave 6lb to Noble Yeats there and now meets him off level weights, so he’s immediately overpriced as that in theory should be enough to overturn a four-length gap. He recorded an RPR of 155 there, the same when second in the race last season and he went on to be beaten just 3/4L into second. 

A repeat of last year’s effort would have him way overpriced in here, and the soft conditions will suit him strongly. His record on soft/heavy going reads 112033413111PU12223, and his record over three miles reads 22326143, with the only ‘bad’ effort coming in first time cheek-pieces that were quickly discarded. His record on the New Course reads 12224, and it’s hard to envisage him not running his usual gallant race from the front. 

Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (GBB Race)
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4:10 Cheltenham – TrustATrader Plate Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Shakem Up’Arry 10/1 1pt WIN 

There’s a fair bit of what I’d call ‘deadwood’ in this year’s plate toward the bottom of the market, and those toward the head of proceedings appear accordingly priced. However at 10/1, SHAKEM UP’ARRY looks a shade overpriced given he ran to a career best RPR last time out over course and distance. The ten-year-old has long threatened to take a valuable pot, shaping well in multiple big handicaps including a five lengths third in this contest last season, after finishing 5th in his prep in the handicap he won this season. Having had his wind done in the spring, he’s come back a better horse this after having a blow out at Stratford, then shaping well from the front in the Coral Gold Cup before weakening two out. The drop in trip proved the oracle over C&D next time out on heavy ground, and the form’s worked out in places with the 3rd Al Dancer just touched off in the Coral Trophy next time out. He’s been freshened up since that victory and although he returns off a 4lbs higher mark this season, the contest doesn’t look much stronger this time around and he’s evidently in better health too, so he can cope with the rise in the weights and give another good account of himself for the inform Ben Pauling/Ben Jones combination with the ground to suit. 

TrustATrader Plate Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race)
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5:30 Cheltenham – Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (Sponsored By JRL Group) (GBB) (Class 2) (5yo+ 0-145) – Daily Present 14/1 1.5pt EW NAP 5 places 

Bottom weight DAILY PRESENT (5lb claim factored) drastically bounced backed to form last time out when staying on strongly over three miles at Down Royal in a first time tongue tie. Coincidentally or not, that race was won by last season’s Kim Muir winner Angels Dawn, which can only bode well. Despite being beaten 49, 55 and 79 lengths in three efforts over fences, this winning pointer has always threatened to be promising having beaten Bronn in a novice hurdle in 2022, who went on to take a Grade 2 thereafter and place in multiple top Graded contests. The form of that Down Royal win last time out has worked out nicely, with the second just touched off in Listed company last time out now rated 9lb higher, and was then second next time out to the horse who took the aforementioned Listed contest at Naas. Off a featherweight and the ground to suit, Daily Present can back up that run from last time out with providing the tongue-tie continues to work well, and he’s likely well-handicapped still off a mark of 127.

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (Sponsored By JRL Group) (GBB)
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Matty Sutcliffe’s Cheltenham Value Punts

1:30 Cheltenham – Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Letsbeclearaboutit 20/1 1pt EW 3 places 

2:10 Cheltenham – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Flight Deck 40/1 0.5pt EW 6 places

2:10 Cheltenham – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Alpesh Almin 25/1 0.5pt EW 6 places 

2:50 Cheltenham – Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy) (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Protektorat 10/1 1pt WIN

2:50 Cheltenham – Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy) (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Conflated 8/1 1pt WIN

3:30 Cheltenham – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo+) – Dashel Drasher 33/1 1pt EW 5 places 

4:10 Cheltenham – TrustATrader Plate Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+) – Shakem Up’Arry 10/1 1pt WIN 

5:30 Cheltenham – Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (Sponsored By JRL Group) (GBB) (Class 2) (5yo+ 0-145) – Daily Present 14/1 1.5pt EW NAP 5 places 


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