Day 3 at the Cheltenham Festival is dubbed “St Patrick’s Thursday” and is also Stayers Hurdle and Ryanair Chase day! Below you’ll find three Dark Horses to Look Out for on a cracking day of action ahead…
Dark Horse: 2.10 Cheltenham - AARON LAD
Dr Richard Newland, every so often, will pop up with a big handicap winner. He certainly knows how to prepare one for the big occasion and AARON LAD is really interesting here. We haven’t seen him since December, but he has clearly been laid out for this race following his course and distance success last time out. The form of his two length success over Keeper Hill there has worked out nicely since and at around the 14/1 mark, this horse is could be seen as a bit of value given his course experience. The 8yo son of Daylami has struck up a brilliant relationship with 5lb claimer Charlie Hammond and it would be a dream come true for the young pilot to have a Festival winner for a small but highly capable yard.
Dark Horse: 2.50 Cheltenham - ASO
Aso, like the rest of them, struggled to cope with the marvelously talented performance of Cyrname at Ascot last time out. He was around 10lb below his best there but certainly didn’t disgrace himself around a track that clearly didn’t play to his strengths. Prior to that, he was an excellent winner at Newbury first time out, before thrashing a smart mare in Happy Diva around Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. He ran to an RPR of 166 there, which is high class form but he will need to find a bit more. He was 3rd in this race a couple of years ago and seems to be a more well rounded chaser now, so at 33/1 with 4 places up for grabs, he rates a fair Dark Horse in what looks a really fun and quality renewal of the Ryanair Chase.
Dark Horse: 4.10 Cheltenham - BOUVREUIL
Bouvreuil was unlucky to be brought down in the Grand Annual last year when going off a well supported 10/1 chance for then trainer Paul Nicholls. In the 2017 and 2016 Cheltenham Festivals, he finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Close Brothers Handicap Chase and the Brown and Merriebelle Plate, where he ran a blinder behind Baron Alco and Road To Respect on a mark of 145. He won first time out for new trainer Ben Haslam this season, before not quite firing at Wetherby last time out. Bouvreuil has his fourth crack at a Festival win here from a mark of 142, so he is nicely weighted here off 10st 12lb under Richie McLernon. There are plenty of fancy names in this field, but Bouvreuil has shown a liking to Cheltenham in March in the past and it looks a little undervalued at 22/1.
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