Thanksforthehelp too short a price
Blazing Khal faces toughest test yet
So Scottish must improve to be placed
Under Control looks out of her depth
The first two days started with novice hurdles in which I opposed the favourite. The opening race on Day 3, in contrast, is a novices' chase at 13:30 with a 2.265/4 favourite, Mighty Potter.
On form, you'd have to say Gordon Elliott's six-year-old should win bar a fall.
Mighty Potter beat first-day winner Gaillard du Mesnil and Banbridge in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase.
He then followed up with a second win at the highest level, taking the Ladbrokes Novice Chase at Leopardstown the same weekend that El Fabiolo stretched 10 lengths clear of Banbridge 5.85/1 and Appreciate It 5.85/1 in the Goffs Irish Arkle Chase.
It is simplistic to use Banbridge as a yardstick but if you do Mighty Potter comes out 18 lengths better than his two market rivals.
Balco Coastal 11.010/1 and Stage Star 13.5 would be the best of the home team, but may not be good enough to prevent an Irish 1-2-3. So no lay win or place advised in the opener.
Thanks but no thanks
The first of four place lays is Thanksforthehelp in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at 14:10.
A JP McManus-owned David Pipe-trained hotpot - 6.05/1 in a 24-runner handicap - he clearly needed his first run since April when unplaced at Wetherby on Boxing Day. Next time out, he crucified a field at Chepstow, winning a qualifier for this race in a canter.
Thanksforthehelp has been put up 11lb for that and the $1million question is whether he can put this race to bed off the higher mark.
There are plenty in the line-up on our side including Nicky Henderson's three: last year's third Mill Green 32.031/1 and his stablemates Captain Morgs 20.019/1 and Walking On Air 9.08/1.
Gordon Elliott, who won this in 2018, 2019 and 2020, runs four. Maxxum is the shortest price 8.27/1, but Salvador Ziggy 16.015/1, The Bosses Oscar 16.015/1 and Level Neverending 50.049/1 have run 15 times between them this season and have yet to finish out of the first four.
I reckon given the strength of the opposition Thanksforthehelp has no easy task to make the frame. At 2.56/4 he rates a place lay.
Leave Shishkin alone
I don't suggest we take on Shishkin in the Ryanair at 14:50.
Nicky Henderson's chaser has won four Grade 1s over fences since taking the Supreme Hurdle here on the opening day in 2020. He hated the soft ground when pulled up in the Champion Chase 12 months ago but his sparkle returned at Ascot last time.
Shishkin is rated 7lb better than Blue Lord and Chacun Pour Soi, so it would take a bold man to lay him, even though there is little to lose at 1.865/6.
Take on Blazing Khal in Stayers' Hurdle
I can see Blazing Khal finishing out of the first three in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle at 15:30.
Philip Byrnes' mount is four from four over hurdles with the last three wins coming in Grade 2s, one over course and distance.
He has not won at the top level, though, whereas Teahupoo, Flooring Porter, Home By The Lee, Klassical Dream and Paisley Park have.
It looks like Blazing Khal will go off 4.216/5 favourite, and I don't think he should on form. Lay him at 2.01/1 for a place.
Two more McManus runners look vulnerable
Having put up JP McManus' Thanksforthehelp as a solid place lay, there are two more of the owner's runners you should consider laying.
So Scottish has been laid out by his trainer Emmet Mullins for the Magners Plate Handicap Chase at 16:10 but he wouldn't be the pick on form. He is ranked 17th by the Racing Post's ratings and was beaten off a 4lb lower mark at Ascot last time.
Given he has been well-backed in the last two weeks, there is clearly confidence behind So Scottish 5.49/2. It is not supported by the formbook or his times, though, so I am happy to lay him at 2.26/5 for a place.
The third in the McManus green and gold hoops to lay for a place is Under Control in the Jack De Bromhead Mares' Novices' Hurdle at 16:50.
It's a race that Jack's father Henry will be keen to win and he saddles five - Magical Zoe, Foxy Girl, Ladybank, Belle The Lioness and Still Ciel.
Magical Zoe is shortest, having won all her three starts. Her latest success was in a Grade 3 at Down Royal where she came from off the pace to catch Nikini close home.
Luccia has won Listeds at Newbury and Exeter in fast times and looks a worthy favourite 2.767/4. Willie Mullins' Lot Of Joy 9.08/1 has looked a natural over hurdles since her third in the Irish Cesarewitch last autumn and looks sure to be placed.
My lay Under Control, in contrast, beat a poor lot at Fontainebleau, and the form of her impressive Newbury win took a knock when the runner-up was beaten 15 lengths at Stratford on Monday.
She would be the first four-year-old to win this race but I can't see her finishing in the places, to be honest. Unfortunately she has taken a walk in the market in the last 24 hours and is 19.018/1 from 12.5 for a win. If you can lay her at around 4.03/1 for a place, do so.
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