The Stayers' Hurdle is the feature race on St Patrick's Day and our 'bets of the day' tipsters return with their fancies for the third day of the Cheltenham Festival...
"Janika is certainly a horse with graded class potential, so I don't hold too many worries about him from a massive mark of 156. He'll be top weight here."
Defi Du Seuil will get the race run to suit
The JLT Novices' Chase - Back Defi Du Seuil @ 3.7511/4 (Best Bet)
You can ignore Defi Du Seuil's defeat behind Lostintranslation here, when he hit the front too soon and instead concentrate on his comprehensive win from that same rival, last time at Sandown when produced later. That run is massive in the context of this race and with even more pace on here those tactics should prove the winning ones again for the Philip Hobbs team.
As regards Cheltenham he has four wins from six runs around here and on soft ground or softer his record reads five wins from six starts. The stable are in-form and out of all the horses in this race, he will get the race run to suit. There is no better man to have in the plate than Barry Geraghty to carry the famous JP McManus colours to another victory.
A Mullins runner that may be flying under the radar
The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate - Back Polidam @ 17.016/1 (Each-way edge to 6 places)
Willie Mullins only has the one runner in the race and he's a 10-year-old with form figures of 4-0-7 this season, have I lost the plot? Maybe. But I can't help but think that the drop back nearly half a mile in trip on this ground will see Polidam run a massive race for an in form yard at a nice each way price and six places using Each Way edge.
He was going well in the Thyestes at Gowran Park before tiring late on over three miles on soft ground and did the same at Leopardstown the time before that. I can see him travelling better than most on this ground and the drop in trip will see less of an emphasis on his stamina.
I was a fan of his after he ran in the Topham Chase at Aintree last season went sent off 109/1 favourite. He finished 9th that day beaten nearly 40 lengths but absolutely nothing went right for him that day - hampered at the 7th, pecked badly at Becher's, suffered interference throughout and when he came back in they realised he'd lost BOTH front shoes. He's flying under the radar somewhat here and could well be the forgotten horse.
Janika can justify Festival faith
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Plate Handicap Chase (16:10) - Back Janika @ 6.05/1
Nicky Henderson's Janika held three entries in the build-up to the Festival. One was the Ultima, another was the Ryanair, but he was always the shortest price for the Plate - and it certainly looks the right race for him.
He's such a smooth-travelling type that I am sure he'll pull a few in-running layers in. He finished second at Cheltenham in January and was matched at 1.152/13 in defeat. He was also done at 1.594/7 on his UK debut at Ascot.
There wasn't an awful lot wrong with those two runs. His runner-up effort behind Siruh Du Lac was fine effort from a mark of 150 and that looks strong form. Maybe he could have been ridden on the outside of the eventual winner there, but he still travelled well in that race despite seeing plenty of daylight. His defeat at Ascot was behind Hell's Kitchen - who got a good ride in that race.
Janika is certainly a horse with graded class potential, so I don't hold too many worries about him from a massive mark of 156. He'll be top weight here.
Mares' Novices' Hurdle (16:50) - Back Epatante @ 3.55/2
The mares' novice race might not be everybody's cup of tea, but whilst it could throw up plenty of runners, it does lack a bit of depth, and there will be plenty of big-priced outsiders that have no chance.
The odds on Nicky Henderson's Epatante are not exactly sexy at the top of the market, but she has looked all class in her two appearances so far in the UK, and we are looking for a winner.
She won easily at Kempton, and followed up at Exeter last time following a short break. It looked as though she might just have needed that outing as she can race keenly, but that can happen with the ex-French types. A proper gallop will suit her in this, but her jumping improved at Exeter.
Henderson was talking about her as a potential runner in the Dovecote but she would have received a penalty for this, and it must be remembered she was a Grade 1 Bumper winner in France.
Samburu the big improver
Samburu Shujaa is the Each-Way selection in this ultra competitive handicap.
This improving gelding won his second race in a row when beating Tobefair at Chepstow last month. He made virtually all the running, and had plenty in reserve to go clear on the run-in. Since stepping up in trip, he has been improving steadily and clearly has more to offer. He is likely to figure prominently throughout, and represents decent Each-Way value at 12/1(6 places).
Sire Du Berlais is the favourite at 7.413/2 on the exchange. He shaped with considerable promise on his latest start behind Cueno at Leopardstown, and may attract further support.
A walk in the Park for Paisley
Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle (15:30) Back Paisley Park (Best Bet)
I need look no further than Paisley Park in this outstanding contest.
This smart performer has improved out of recognition this season winning all four starts. Last time out in the Cleeve Hurdle over this course he was most impressive when beating West Approach. He took the lead on the run to the last, and powered home to win with complete authority. He has developed in to the best staying hurdler around and is the clear form choice. At present he is trading at 2.915/8 on the exchange which is more than fair.
Faugheen is the clear second choice at 6.05/1 on the exchange. He retains plenty of ability, but I believe the selection will have his measure.
13:30 - Back Defi Du Seuil @ 3.7511/4 (Best Bet)
16:10 - Back Polidam @ 1716/1 (Each-way edge to 6 places)
Back Janika @ 6.05/1 in the Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Plate Handicap Chase (16:10)
Back Epatante @ 3.55/2 Mares' Novices' Hurdle (16:50) in the (best bet)
Pertemps Network Final (14:10) Back Samburu Shujaa (Each-Way at 12/1 6 Places)
Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle (15:30) Back Paisley Park at 2.915/8 (Best Bet)