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Cheltenham day three: Top tips as Paisley Park can repeat the dose while Faugheen could provide a popular triumph



Hotly tipped: Aidan Coleman onboard Paisley Park, who is going for a second straight Stayers’ Hurdle victory

Hotly tipped: Aidan Coleman onboard Paisley Park, who is going for a second straight Stayers’ Hurdle victory

�INPHO/Dan Sheridan



�INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Hotly tipped: Aidan Coleman onboard Paisley Park, who is going for a second straight Stayers’ Hurdle victory

All eyes will be on Paisley Park as the stamina king bids for back-to-back victories in today's Stayers' Hurdle, but two hours earlier the roof may have come off at Cheltenham should the evergreen Faugheen roll back the years once again in the opener.

If you believe in miracles, then Willie Mullins' 12-year-old winning a Grade One five years after lifting the Champion Hurdle is the stuff of dreams, and 'The Machine' has a decent chance.

1.30pm Grade One Marsh Novices' Chase 2m4f

Success for the remarkable Faugheen would bring the house down, and he comes here in superb form with successive Grade One victories.​

The hustle and bustle of Cheltenham is a different kettle of fish, though, and there is some doubt whether his battling Dublin Racing Festival win may have dented both his energy and enthusiasm.​

This is not the best renewal of the old JLT, with last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle third Itchy Feet holding favouritism having landed a first Grade One success for trainer Olly Murphy when taking the Scilly Isles Chase with a powerful finish.​

His odds are skimpy at the head of the betting, however, while Mullins also saddles dual Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon as well as Bapaume and Tornado Flyer.​

2018 Ballymore winner Samcro is a bit of an enigma at this stage having promised greatness but regularly flattered to deceive, although Gordon Elliott is confident that they have him right.​

Eight of the last nine winners have been priced at 7/1 or less so the market is generally a good guide, and Nicky Henderson's lightly-raced six-year-old Mister Fisher ticks a lot of boxes.​

However, a horse double his age may just make history, with Faugheen set to light up the Festival once again.​

Verdict: Faugheen can defy Father Time once again.​

2.10pm Grade Three Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle 3m

It is very difficult to assess the chances of many of these given the criteria required to gain entry, with victory almost a deterrent in order to protect handicap ratings.​

Irish horses have won the last four runnings with 2018 Champion Bumper winner Relegate bidding to propel Colm Murphy back into the big time.​

While her potential is obvious, she trades very short in the betting where she is joined by Gordon Elliott's 2018 Festival winner The Storyteller, which was given a peach of a ride by Davy Russell to grab a qualifying place when sixth in an informative Leopardstown Qualifier.​

Stablemate Sire Du Berlais had similar preparation last year before landing the odds and is primed for his defence as owner JP McManus sends five in pursuit of success.​

Another is Dream Berry, and with Jonjo O'Neill successful in this contest four times, he could outrun his odds and make the places under his son Jonjo Jnr having shown plenty of zest at Sandown in December.​

2018 Albert Bartlett winner Kilbricken Storm has plummeted down the weights and also represents good each-way value for Colin Tizzard and Harry Cobden.​

Verdict: Dream Berry (ew) can place for the O'Neills.​

2.50pm Grade One Ryanair Chase 2m4f

Frodon will put up a bold defence of his crown under Bryony Frost having come back to near his best when landing a Grade Two at Kempton in January.​

Mullins' Min bids to make it fourth time lucky at the Festival but has an outstanding record at this trip, with form figures of 1-2-1-1, and should be bang there at the finish if delivering his best under Paul Townend.​

They both have to catch A Plus Tard, however, with Henry de Bromhead's charge giving one of the performances of last year's Festival when hosing up in a novice handicap chase by 16 lengths.​

A Plus Tard hasn't been seen since inflicting the only defeat of Chacun Pour Soi - since he came to Ireland - at Christmas and, aged six, there could be more to come under the red-hot Rachael Blackmore.​

Last year's Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres has shown little this season and is discounted along with Shattered Love - which has been out of sorts since landing the JLT over a similar trip two years ago - while Nigel Twiston-Davies' vastly-improved Riders Onthe Storm is unlikely to have the class for this task.​

Verdict: A Plus Tard can wave goodbye to his rivals.​

3.30pm Grade One Stayers' Hurdle 3m

This is all about last year's winner Paisley Park, which is viewed by many as the banker of the Festival under Cork jockey Aidan Coleman.

Emma Lavelle's eight-year-old typically hits a flat spot but always finds another gear and is unbeaten in his last seven starts as he looks set to join esteemed company as a two-time winner.​

Tom George's Summerville Boy is a former Festival winner having landed the Supreme two years ago and improved immensely when stepped up to 3m last time out behind Paisley Park having switched back from fences.​

2018 winner Penhill has gone off the boil somewhat but cannot be ruled out considering the genius of Closutton maestro Mullins and his two wins from his two Festival runs.​

Elliott's brilliant mare Apple's Jade has gone off the boil this season and is hard to fancy under Richard Johnson, while Warren Greatrex's Emitom has the scope to improve in time but may find this too stiff an ask.​

The fly in the ointment may be City Island, which landed last year's Ballymore in impressive fashion for Martin Brassil and Mark Walsh and returns to the smaller obstacles having not taken to fences as expected.​

He is best placed to chase Paisley Park home.​

Verdict: Paisley Park to prevail with City Island placing.​

4.10pm Grade Three Brown Advisory Plate Handicap Chase 2m4f

Outsiders have held sway in this over the past decade, with seven of the last 10 winners priced bigger than 12/1, including a 50/1 winner, but red-hot favourite Simply The Betts can buck that trend.​

Going left-handed floats his boat and Gavin Sheehan's mount brings the best form into this having handed subsequent Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase winner Imperial Aura a beating on his last start over course and distance in January.​

The third (On The Slopes) has also won well since then and Harry Whittington hasn't hidden his confidence that he can get the job done.

Last year's winner Siruh Du Lac is definitely not out of it for Nick Williams, and his sub-par display here in November can be forgiven, while Willie Mullins' Robin Des Foret is also in with an each-way shout.​

Robin Des Foret has kept good company this season, getting competitive in three lucrative handicap chases in succession, and having had a wind operation since his fifth at the Dublin Racing Festival, he can also make the frame.​

Verdict: Simply The Betts has the best form in the book.​

4.50pm Grade Two Daylesford Mares' Novices' Hurdle 2m1f

Mullins has won all four runnings of this contest and saddles a quartet of contenders, with Concertista hoping to go one better than last year when runner-up, while Colreevy looks the Closutton No.1 with Townend in the plate.​

Colreevy is unlikely to turn around Fairyhouse form with Minella Melody, however, and De Bromhead's mare is three from three over hurdles.​

That Fairyhouse Grade Three threw up the winners of this race in 2016 (Limini) and 2018 (Laurina), and the same connections of Mares' Hurdle winner, Honeysuckle will be out for another Festival success.​

Minella Melody is a take on at the prices, though, with the chance of Floressa getting better with every Henderson winner over the first two days.​

This has been the plan for a long time for the five-year-old and, while she wasn't at her best last time out when third in a Doncaster Grade Two, her previous effort when taking a Listed event at Newbury leaves her bang in contention.​

Verdict: Nico de Boinville can steer Floressa home in front.​

5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase 3m2f

The form of the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting could be most informative coming into this with Paul Nolan's Fitzhenry just touched off.​

The eight-year-old was also bang in contention when badly hampered in the closing stages of another Leopardstown handicap last month but can bounce back to make the frame.​

Plan Of Attack was third in the Paddy Power and the unexposed seven-year-old is open to huge improvement.

He can cause a minor surprise to upset Henderson's Champagne Platinum, which has the assistance of Derek O'Connor but is a sketchy jumper.​

Le Breuil may come back to his best under Jamie Codd.​

Verdict: Plan Of Attack can score under Barry O'Neill.

Belfast Telegraph