HomeHorse RacingCheltenham Tips: Paul Jacobs’ full card preview for Day Three of the...

Cheltenham Tips: Paul Jacobs’ full card preview for Day Three of the Festival


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Paul Jacobs’ Cheltenham Thursday betting tips:

1.30 Turners Novices’ ChaseJames Du Berlais (each way)
2.10 Pertemps Handicap Hurdle – Coltor & Perceval Legallois (each way)
2.50 Ryanair Chase – Hitman
3.30 Stayers’ HurdleMaries Rock
4.10 Magners Plate – I Am Maximus/Escaria Ten
4.50 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – Luccia
5.30 Kim Muir Handicap Chase – Angels Dawn

If you’re in my camp you will also feel that Mighty Potter is a reliable, classy and game young chaser that you can trust to keep on churning out the performances. Yes, he was pummelled into submission by half-way in last year’s Supreme, but come on that was no ordinary race won by no ordinary horse. Upped in trip and with larger obstacles to contend with he hasn’t been a sexy horse to watch, but we know that a repeat of his best run, winning at Leopardstown last time out, would secure this title nine times out of 10. He is the most likely winner by far, but I have to say if El Fabiolo ran here instead of the Arkle, which he won’t, I would prefer the Mullins horse.

With Mighty Potter found in the market place my each-way ‘value’ alternative has to be James Du Berlais, who went off at 7/2 in that Dublin contest, but an early mistake at the second seemed to knock his confidence and he was never going thereafter. It is worth remembering that he has only raced four times in the UK and Ireland and has always worked with aplomb at home. He may hit the frame if getting into a good jumping rhythm early and along with Bronn (yes I have mentioned him before and will be backing him in his chosen engagement), forget his last run as there was no pace on, and possibly Stage Star he looks too big.

This is one of my favourite races at the Festival if only because it sets me a conundrum which makes it always thought provoking and in turn this big field handicap event to predict. Maxxum was unlucky in the run last time out after two impressive wins, but being 25lbs higher than for the second of those victories I suspect Elliott may have to claim off him again. Many were talking about Walking On Air being a Stayers’ Hurdle contender at the beginning of the season, but he has taken time to come to himself.

I fancy that he doesn’t really want a slug fest and if the weather forecast is right, three miles at a pace on the New Course on proper soft ground could test his stamina reserves. I could mention 12 in the race and still not get the winner, but my advice is to bet on the day and get the undoubted extra places that Paddy Power are sure to offer. In that case I shall be backing my two selections each-way.

Coltor had a lovely spin around Musselburgh (track way too sharp), but it was all about the qualification for the son of Free Eagle and he is only 4lbs higher here and pertinently comes here a very fresh horse, a factor sometimes over looked coming arriving at Prestbury Park.

In contrast, my other pick Perceval Legallois has gradually been running his way into form and was hugely impressive last time out when slamming 16 rivals. He has gone up 15lbs in the weights, but is seriously progressive. Thanksforthehelp is set to have a light weight on his back and the Chepstow scorer is surely way better than his current mark of 128 and is a big player at a shorter price.

Am I the only one to think that Shishkin had a harder race than it looked or that people didn’t observe at Ascot last time out? Yes, he stayed this new trip well, but I thought it was a gruelling contest and I cannot have him at a shade of odds-on to take Allaho’s title. To my eyes there two outstanding pieces of value. The first, GA Law, looks as though he is going to run in the Gold Cup in order to qualify for the Grand National, a trip I don’t fancy he will stay and then my selection Hitman.

Three miles stretches the Paul Nicholls’ charge, but this 2m 5f looks his optimum trip. An efficient jumper, this still young horse remains on a gradually progressive path and with plenty of pace in this race I fancy Harry Cobden can hunt him around before engaging top gear from the home turn. Both Janidil and Fakir D’Oudaries don’t jump well enough to win a race of this nature even if the fav blows out.

There has been a huge cross section of opinion on this race, but one thing we can all agree on is that this could be one of the best races of the week. There’s not not only plenty of strength in depth, but loads of question marks about several of the likely leading players.

Teahupoo was impressive in the Hatton’s Grace, but there is little between him and the fragile Klassical Dream on that form and yet their respective prices are surely too far apart and would they both have beaten Echoes In Rain had the mare finished stronger?

There are huge fitness and well being clouds about both reigning champion Flooring Porter and Blazing Khal (not convinced by the form of his win), while Home By The Lee is solid, but not out of the ordinary for a race with plenty of depth.

Nicky Henderson’s mare Maries Rock has been crying out for this trip and after backing her at 25’s and 20’s, I hope and think she will shirk defending her Mares Hurdle title and take on the boys here. She was hugely impressive in the Relkeel Hurdle and to my eyes promises to be even better over this three miles which is a frightening prospect. The fact that she quite obviously adores Cheltenham and has a classy turn foot are other massive positives and she is one of my bets of the meeting.

Call Me Lyreen was going to be my original selection having run well through the summer and autumn months and saved for this, but sadly the weather gods have turned their heads against him. Il Rodoto was hugely impressive last time out when the cheekpieces seemed to work and could easily turn into a graded animal so a mark of 146 is very tempting.  He deserves massive respect with his best days ahead of him. He was well beaten by Midnight River on New Year’s Day, and runs off the same terms here, but could be the more progressive since the cheekpieces were applied.

I have plenty of time for the likes of Kilcruit (if running here in favour of the Turners) and Fugitif, but I feel French Dynamite is in the pocket of the handicapper. So at this stage a tentative vote goes to the Willie Mullins’ trained seven-year-old I Am Maximus (still entered in three other races at the time of writing). You could argue that a mark of 151 is rather stiff, but I have loved the progression he has made in three chases this season, his jumping getting better every time and not disgraced behind Mighty Potter last time out. There is almost certainly more in his locker and he could be very interesting along with Escaria Ten, third to Galvin in the National Hunt Chase two years ago, but who may be best suited by a fast run race over this trip nowadays.

This is all about Nicky Henderson’s charge Luccia now that she has turned down the tempting bait of the Supreme Novices Hurdle and is my nap of the meeting. True, her hurdling can be improved upon, but she has a huge motor and I think is different gravy to this lot. Enough said!

If Angels Dawn gets into the race, a mark of 131 looks very enticing for this lightly raced eight-year-old mare and I fancy that she may have won the Grand National Trial at Punchestown had she not unseated at the second last when seemingly going well within herself. She only just got going in the final 200 yards when running through the line to win at Down Royal from Ballykeel and the more rain that falls the better. Mr Incredible has the form on the board via his Warwick second to play a role, but will have a welter burden to carry here. Still, he could be a 150’s stayer in the making, while both Beauport and Iron Bridge have potential in a race of this nature.

The first named found two and a half miles way too short a test behind The Real Whacker in the Dipper Novices Chase back on New Year’s Day when the leader was allowed his own way out in front, but this extra yardage looks sure to suit, he was a very finishing second to Green Book in a Grade Two handicap hurdle at Sandown last year and if we get genuinely soft ground here I suspect that he could be a real springer in the market place.

Paul Jacobs’ Cheltenham Thursday betting tips:

1.30 Turners Novices’ ChaseJames Du Berlais (each way)
2.10 Pertemps Handicap Hurdle – Coltor/Perceval Legallois (each way)
2.50 Ryanair Chase – Hitman
3.30 Stayers’ HurdleMaries Rock
4.10 Magners Plate – I Am Maximus/Escaria Ten
4.50 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – Luccia
5.30 Kim Muir Handicap Chase – Angels Dawn



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