Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day 2: Robin Goodfellow’s racing tips – best bets for Thursday, March 12


Guest columnist Jane Mangan and Formcast (Nigel Taylor) continued their brilliant start to Cheltenham with a host of big-race winners on day two. 

Mangan selected Aramax (15-2), Easysland (3-1), Champ (4-1) and Envoi Allen (4-7) to complete a stunning day’s tipping, while in-form Taylor was on the mark with Envoi Allen, Champ and Dame De Compagnie (5-1 nap).

Sportsmail’s racing expert Robin Goodfellow, eight times champion jockey Peter Scudamore, Britain’s No 1 horse watcher Ken Pitterson and Irish expert Mangan share their tips for day three of the Cheltenham Festival featuring the Stayers’ Hurdle. 

Stayers’ Hurdle champion Paisley Park has strung together an impressive run of seven wins

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY THREE

ROBIN GOODFELLOW 

1.30 Itchy Feet

2.10 Sire Du Berlais (nb)

2.50 A Plus Tard

3.30 Paisley Park

4.10 Happy Diva

4.50 Minella Melody

5.30 Le Breuil (nap)

GIMCRACK 

1.30 Faugheen

2.10 Kilbricken Storm

2.50 A Plus Tard (nap)

3.30 Paisley Park

4.10 Simply The Betts (nb)

4.50 Minella Melody

5.30 Deise Aba

MARSH NOVICES’ CHASE

(1.30: GRADE ONE — 2 MILES 3 FURLONGS)  

Olly Murphy did not enjoy much luck with Brewin’upastorm in the Arkle Chase, but ITCHY FEET may provide some compensation with a bold showing, having lifted a Grade One prize in style last time. 

Seven of the last nine winners of this race had won a Graded novice chase and eight of the nine had also run at the previous season’s Festival, so the selection’s fine third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle ticks that box. 

Although both of Itchy Feet’s chase wins have come on righthanded tracks, he boasts quality Cheltenham form over hurdles and his performance in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase last time was a career-best. 

Having saddled four previous winners of the race, the Willie Mullins contingent is respected, with Faugheen sure to prove an emotional winner if he can pull off that feat at the age of 12. But he was not convincing at Leopardstown last time and may be vulnerable to the younger legs of Itchy Feet and Mister Fisher. The last-named is a major threat with solid course form courtesy of a win before Christmas. He also had a cosy win at Doncaster last time in Graded company.

SELECTION: ITCHY FEET 4-1

DANGER: MISTER FISHER 9-2

PERTEMPS NETWORK HURDLE

(2.10: LISTED — 2 MILES 7 FURLONGS)  

The Pertemps qualifier at Leopardstown over Christmas may hold the key to this race because it featured a number of eye-catching performances, not least the closing efforts of The Storyteller and last year’s winner sire du berlais . 

The former, already a winner over fences at the Festival, was given a beautiful ride from Davy Russel l to sneak into the final qualifying spot from an unpromising position turning for home. Sire De Berlais found plenty of trouble in running in this event 12 months ago, yet still possessed the quality to edge out course specialist Tobefair with a little in hand and land a sizeable gamble.

Although Sire Du Berlais failed to book his spot for a repeat bid at Leopardstown, he did well to finish as close to the winner as he did, given his position with two hurdles to jump, and a similar finishing effort at Warwick in January ensured his place in Thursday’s field. 

Trainer Gordon Elliott employed the first-time cheek pieces 12 months ago and a switch to the blinkers could be the catalyst for his eight-year-old to produce another huge display. Others to bear in mind include Tout Est Permis (fourth at Leopardstown), who represents the jockey-trainer combination that won the Leinster National last Sunday. Skandiburg and Rapper look two of the home contingent to consider, with their effectiveness on the track assured, while the gamble of the race, Relegate, is undeniably well treated if her hurdling holds up.

SELECTION: SIRE DU BERLAIS 8-1

DANGER: THE STORYTELLER 11-2

A Plus Tard can claim a seventh successive success for French-based chasers in Ryanair Chase

A Plus Tard can claim a seventh successive success for French-based chasers in Ryanair Chase

RYANAIR CHASE

(2.50: GRADE ONE — 2 MILES 5 FURLONGS)   

The likes of last year’s winner Frodon, Min and Aso should ensure this intriguing event is run at an honest gallop and that is likely to suit A PLUS TARD who can stalk the pace before pouncing. 

Although a little younger than the ideal profile for this race, the selection is a precocious French-bred chaser and horses from across the Channel have won the last six renewals. 

His defeat of the talented Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown over Christmas was emphatic and echoed his performance in last season’s novice handicap chase at this meeting, which he turned into a rout. His stable has made a brilliant start to the week in the main and he rates a confident selection to claim another Grade One success. 

Min remains very capable on his day and should give another good account, while Riders Onthe Storm would be a major threat to all on his efforts this season since switching to Nigel Twiston-Davies. However, confidence in his chance is tempered as the Ascot conditions he ploughed through to win last time were brutal and may have left their mark.

SELECTION: A PLUS TARD 7-4

DANGER: FRODON 5-1

Paisley Park will be seeking a second successive Stayers' Hurdle triumph on Thursday

Paisley Park will be seeking a second successive Stayers’ Hurdle triumph on Thursday

STAYERS’ HURDLE

(3.30: GRADE ONE — 2 MILE 7 FURLONGS)  

There is not much to be said about the mighty PAISLEY PARK that hasn’t already been said. Since October 2018, the Stayers’ Hurdle champion has strung together a series of impressive performances to take his winning run to seven. 

His ability to win in small-field trial races without his preferred strong gallop is further evidence of him evolving as a hurdler. This race has a history of multiple winners and it will arguably be the shock of the week if Paisley Park is beaten here. Of his rivals, City Island — winner of the Ballymore Hurdle at last year’s Festival — has failed to make much impact over fences this winter, but he could be a live contender for the frame if his recent wind operation assists his breathing. He stayed on powerfully to beat Champ 12 months ago, so could reward an each-way investment. 

Ronald Pump won’t be on many shortlists for this race given he has been plying his trade in handicaps and novice chases in recent seasons, but he ran a blinder in a strong Pertemps qualifier at Leopardstown over Christmas and is one to bear in mind at sizeable odds.

SELECTION: PAISLEY PARK 8-13

DANGER: CITY ISLAND 12-1

PLATE HANDICAP CHASE

4.10: GRADE TWO — 2 MILES 4 FURLONGS   

The race won by Simply The Betts on Trials Day in January got a handsome boost on day one courtesy of Imperial Aura’s impressive success. 

Harry Whittington’s progressive chaser was considered a possible for the Grade One two-and-a-half mile novices’ chase, but connections preferred to target this race, believing the seven-year-old to be leniently treated. That could well prove to be the case and, with his effectiveness under Thursday’s conditions assured, he will take a good deal of beating. 

However, HAPPY DIVA appears to have been discarded by the market on the back of one defeat on atrocious ground at Ascot and that could prove to be an over-reaction by the layers. Consistency has been Happy Diva’s biggest strength through much of her career and she finally gained due reward for a series of creditable efforts when landing a prestigious handicap chase at Thursday’s venue last November. 

A subsequent run when narrowly beaten at her beloved Doncaster by Lady Buttons was another terrific effort, and she appears over-priced given the balance of her form this season. Festival winner Mister Whitaker caught the eye on his comeback before running poorly behind Santini in the Cotswold Chase and he is another to consider.

SELECTION: HAPPY DIVA 18-1

DANGER: SIMPLY THE BETTS 7-2

MARES NOVICES’ HURDLE

4.50: GRADE TWO — 2 MILES 

MINELLA MELODY has the potential to be the latest in a long line of high-class mares trained by Henry De Bromhead and the rigours of this race look likely to suit a horse which posted a powerful staying performance at Fairyhouse in January. The selection readily accounted for Colreevy that day, powering clear after the last to complete a hat-trick of success over hurdles. 

These colours were carried to victory by Honeysuckle on the opening day and, although it is premature to begin drawing comparisons between the stablemates, Minella Melody is carving out a reputation in a similar vein. Her ability allied to her likeable nature could be enough to see her extend her winning run in a competitive renewal. Concertista, nailed on the line by Eglantine Du Seuil in this event last year, looks shortlist material once more, despite being beaten on her ensuing three starts. 

Her latest effort at the Dublin Racing Festival in a strongly run mares’ event was evidence she remains very capable at this level. Figures followers labelled that her best career performance, so she looks a viable alternative to Minella Melody for value-seekers.

SELECTION: MINELLA MELODY 5-2

DANGER: CONCERTISTA 9-2

FULKE WALWYN KIM MUIR CHASE

5.30: HANDICAP — 3 MILES 2 FURLONGS 

Ben Pauling has endured a largely frustrating campaign owing to sickness in his yard. However, there have been green shoots of recovery in recent weeks so LE BREUIL may repeat his victory at last year’s Festival with a familiar man back on board. Jamie Codd, hero of the National Hunt Chase on day one, rode the eight-year-old that day and his mount could be peaking at the right time if his latest effort at Warwick is used as evidence. 

The Classic Chase, won by Grand National hope Kimberlite Candy, has already thrown up victories for runner-up Captain Chaos and sixth home Head To The Stars and the form took another handsome boost when The Conditional, who was fourth, won on day one of this meeting. Le Breuil was not disgraced on his penultimate start in the Becher Chase and he looks to be coming to the boil nicely prior to returning to Aintree next month. 

Last year’s runner-up Kilfilum Cross made a bold bid from the front that day and ought to be on the scene again. Thursday’s test should be more suitable than the three miles at Kempton he contested last time and he is shortlist material.

SELECTION: LE BREUIL 6-1

DANGER: KILFILUM CROSS 10-1

PETER SCUDAMORE – EIGHT TIMES CHAMPION JOCKEY

SELECTIONS

1.30 FAUGHEEN 9-2

2.10 SKAN DIBERG 10-1

2.50 MIN 5-2

3.30 PAISLEY PARK 8-13

4.10 SIMPLY THE BETTS 7-2

4.50 FLORESSA 8-1

5.30 PLAN OF ATTACK 10-1

PAISLEY PARK is the most likely winner of the whole meeting in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.

The Emma Lavelle-trained gelding took the race last year and is on a seven-race winning streak. He is a lazy racer, only pulling out what he has to when challenged, and for a stamina-packed performer he also has a decent turn of foot. He showed that when beating Summerville Boy at this track at the end of January.

FAUGHEEN was the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner and despite switching to chasing very late in his career, he has been performing to a high level with Grade One wins against Easy Game and Samcro this season.

MIN was fifth in last year’s Champion Chase but Thursday’s longer Ryanair Chase gives him a better opportunity. He has the best piece of form of the runners, which include last year’s winner Frodon, with his win at Aintree’s Grand National meeting last season, beating Politologue 20 lengths after he had finished runner-up in the Champion Chase at the Festival. Tough to beat if he can reproduce anything like his Aintree run.

SKANDIBERG is the pick in the Pertemps Hurdle Final after his win over course and distance on New Year’s Day.

Peter Scudamore is a racing expert for Freebets.com

JANE MANGAN – THE IRISH VIEW

SELECTIONS 

1.30 ITCHY FEET 4-1

2.10 KILBRICKEN STORM 16-1

2.50 A PLUS TARD 7-4

3.30 PAISLEY PARK 8-13

4.10 DEATH DUTY 18-1

4.50 MINELLA MELODY 5-2

5.30 PLAN OF ATTACK 10-1

 

THE team of jockey Rachael Blackmore, trainer Henry De Bromhead and owner Kenny Alexander landed the Mares’ Hurdle with Honeysuckle on Tuesday and they can strike again with MINELLA MELODY in the Mares Novices’ Hurdle.

The trip is probably her minimum but she has a really good attitude and will relish the Cheltenham hill, so she should maintain her unbeaten run over hurdles.

With the De Bromhead yard on fire, A PLUS TARD is the pick to win the Ryanair Chase even though he is up against good horses headed by Frodon and Min.

It would be one of the results of the week if Faugheen could win the Marsh Novices’ Chase, but I am a big fan of ITCHY FEET. He’s half Faugheen’s age and should be getting better. Could Samcro come back to bite us all? He’s a horse with a massive reputation, but so much has gone wrong. They have done all they can to get him back and he has had a breathing operation.

DEATH DUTY interests me in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Plate. He was a good novice before suffering an injury, but has run well twice after a long absence. Rain would help him.

PLAN OF ATTACK looks another possible winner for the De Bromhead team in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase.

Jane is a pundit on Racing TV — the only place to watch every Festival race, live and uninterrupted. Visit racingtv.com or call 0844 472 5566.

KEN PITTERSON – BRITAIN’S NO 1 HORSE WATCHER 

KEN PITTERSON spends his working life on the racetrack watching horses. Here he gives his verdict on day three… 

MISTER FISHER looks a solid pick in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. He was one of last season’s top novice hurdlers and he made a good start over fences, coming second at Warwick when in need of the run. He made a big step forward with a course and distance win and showed his versatility when dropping back to two miles to win at Doncaster.

A PLUS TARD was one of the most impressive winner at last year’s Festival. He has taken steps forward since by winning a Grade One at Leopardstown on his last start. He has all the qualities to land the Ryanair Chase. Paisley Park is the hot favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle but there are two each-way options. EMITOM, a useful novice hurdler, was clueless and in need of the run on his seasonal reappearance, but looked a different proposition and totally focused when winning with a lot in hand at Haydock.

CITY ISLAND, the winner of last season’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, did not take to fences and has been switched back to hurdles. That Ballymore form looks very solid now.

CAPTAIN HEATH (MARCUS TOWNEND)  

A PLUS TARD showed his potential with a clear-cut win at last year’s Festival and looked good at Leopardstown over Christmas. He should also be fresh and well having not run since.

FORMCAST (NIGEL TAYLOR)  

Simply The Betts beat Imperial Aura over this course and distance in January. The runner-up boosted the form when winning here on Tuesday, so the wellhandicapped Simply The Betts can follow up successfully on Thursday.

CAPTAIN HEATH’S SELECTIONS 

1.30 MISTER FISHER 9-2

2.10 THE STORY TELLER 11-2

2.50 A PLUS TARD 7-4

3.30 PAISLEY PARK 8-13

4.10 SIMPLY THE BETTS 7-2

4.50 MINELLA MELODY 5-2

5.30 CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM 4-1

FORMCAST’S SELECTIONS 

1.30 FAUGHEEN 9-2

2.10 WELSH SAINT 13-2

2.50 MIN 5-2

3.30 PAISLEY PARK 8-13

4.10 SIMPLY THE BETTS 7-2

4.50 CONCERTISTA 9-2

5.30 DEISA ABA 8-1



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