David Cormack previews day 3 of the 2016 festival.
We were down on day 1 but bounced back in style on day 2 to go ahead for the week so almost a free day tomorrow when we should be playing with the bookie’s money. It doesn’t look any easier tomorrow but we’ll take a crack at it.
Race 1 – Plenty possibilities here and while Garde Le Victoire has done nothing wong he might find BRISTOL DE MAI hard to handle. The Twiston-Davies horse races with real zest and enthusiasm and has plenty talent to go with it. The Mullins pair Outlander and Black Hercules may be just short of very top class but are also respected. Not a race to take too strong a view on to be hoest but we should get a good spin for our money from the selection.
Race 2 – There has been a weight of money for JP’s Leave At Dawn but I am coming down on the side of another McManus owned horse in CUP FINAL. I was at Musselburgh the day he won a qualifier for this and he won fairly emphatically, hinting strongly at more to come. Lightly raced, this big, strong sort could be a fair bit ahead of the handicapper. Plenty dangers including Jessica Harrington’s Oscar Sam and the Hobbs pair If In Doubt and Saddlers Encore. Taglietelle faces a stiff task off top weight but can put up a bold show I think. I’m reluctant to go against a McManus horse which has been attracting money but I’m sticking with Cup Final for better or worse.
Race 3 – A trio of my favourite horses line up here. Vautour, Road To Riches and Valseur Lido all flirted with the Gold Cup but come here instead. Of the trio Vautour is the obvious pick, his form is top drawer and he handles both Cheltenham and the demands of the festival with ease, as he’s shown when winning here the last two years. Rumours that he hasn’t been in sparkling form at home temper my enthusiasm but I think he’s the best horse in the race by some way so VAUTOUR it is. Village Vic can do best of those at bigger odds.
Race 4 – THISTLECRACK is strongly fancied to give the Tizzard yard another big prize. Cole Harden can give him something to think about, especially if he gets an easy lead, but on the basis of what we’ve seen of Thistlecrack this should be well within his grasp.
Race 5 – A toughie this. I have no strong view but am tempted by a biggish price to row in with LA VATICANE. David Pipe, tutored expertly by Dad no doubt, is a dab hand at getting them into these handicaps near the bottom of the weights and has done so with this fellow. Developing into a useful performer in France, he has been brought along steadily, presumably with something of this nature in mind.
Race 6 – LIMINI can give Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh another win, although the Ellison mare Smart Talk will be no pushover.
Race 7 – I’m keen on DOCTOR HARPER in this. Another David Pipe trained horse, Doctor Harper has done plenty winning and has also performed creditably against some top class novices in L’Ami Serge and Garde La Victoire (both of whom run in the first race today). These handicaps are never easy but the selection has more scope for further improvement than most in this. I think Cause of Causes has one eye on the National but if connections were to decide this was the day he’d be of major interest on his win at this venue 12 months ago.