Cheltenham Festival St. Patrick’s Contender Picks
St Patrick’s Thursday is the third day of the Cheltenham Festival. Irish music, lots of beer and top quality races to bet on, William Hill provides their favorite picks of the day.
One of the top contenders to keep an eye on for the big race is Un De Sceaux, Willie Mullins trained and two time winner. Un De Sceaux is building itself a reputation of being one of the most consistent and tough horses this season.
Go here for every race on Saint Patrick’s Thursday and review the top picks for each below.
JLT Novices Chase
An alternative track for trainers favoring a shorter field just above the 2 miles.
Gary Moore’s novice Benatar has won 3 out of 3 and has performed best under pressure. No second thoughts on this one.
A difficult field to handicap, contenders this year have won previous Pertemps qualifiers over the season making it hard to pick a favorite.
The Organist had a slow start this season, but the progressive handicapper has been steadily moving up the ranks and plenty of room for improvement. She knows this track from last year’s Mares Hurdle.
The Ryanair Chase has been the easy option for teams who wish a better chance of winning than taking their chances in the Gold Cup.
Top Notch is Nicky Henderson’s diminutive chaser with 6 out of 9 over fences won. Winner of two Grade 2’s at Ascot and Taunton. Last season the horse ended second to Yorkhill in the JLT in the Festival. With jockey Daryl Jacob, Top Notch is in suitable conditions to win.
The highlight event of the stayers, the Stayers Hurdle is three miles long and usually ends in a dramatic photo finish. Barracuda and Big Bucks made their history in this century, Unowhatimeanharry is this season’s public favorite for his unbeaten run since changing trainer.
Wholestone is our pick, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has been reserving this horse for the Cheltenham Festival. A smooth traveler, strong foot and decent jumps; the stamina nature of the race should see him pull back a bit in the early stages and recover in the decisive stage.
Brown Advisory Festival Plate Hurdle
Ballyhill performed beautifully on New Year’s Day staying wide of the field and refusing to settle, then quickened the pace and won the race. The problem comes in the bigger fields when the horse drops back early, this will be a close call with just 5 runs over the fences in his career.
Mares Novice Hurdle
Willie Mullins holds a strong card on this race, but we’ll stick to Neil Mulholand’s “The Young Master”. This handicapper has lost his form recently, so the odds are attractive. “Master” performed poorly in the Fountains Windfall at Kempton in January, sloppy jumps towards the left at every fence but recovering strongly after the last. The left handed nature of this race will help with that disadvantage, clearly this is why Neil Mulholland reserved the mare for this race.
Kim Muir Challenge Cup
Another difficult handicap with the varying styles of the riders. The 3 miles trip is a severe test of stamina suitable for proven stayers who stay in the back early.
“Contister” is Nicky Henderson’s expensive mare shipped from France. So far Contister has proven herself with two runs in the UK, second to Cap Soleil at Newbury and winner in her second handicap. The Kim Muir Hurdle is a step up in class with faster underfoot conditions that favor the mare.