Faugheen can defy the stats
Back Faugheen at 6/1 in the 13:30 at Cheltenham
Get ready to witness the biggest story at this year's Festival when Willie Mullins Faugheen brings down the house in the opening race of the St Patrick's Day meeting with his win in this Marsh Novices' Chase. He's one of the best Champion Hurdle winners of recent years, has any amount of Grade 1s to his name and comes here at the age of 12 off the back of a great novice chase season.
He has to beat all the stats that suggest he cannot win this but I expect him to jump out near the lead and run them ragged. For me he was ridden all wrong last time in the Flogas when taking a lead and I'm strongly hoping they don't make the same mistake again. Currently available around the 6/1 mark I expect him to be strongly backed on the day and go off near favourite.
Summerville Boy will trade shorter in-running
Back-to-Lay Summerville Boy at 10.09/1 in the 15:30 at Cheltenham
Tom George's eight-year-old Summerville Boy did great at his first try at this three mile trip when second last time behind Paisley Park, but maybe just maybe his jockey will have learned a lot from that run and can push Emma Lavelle's runner even closer this time. He set a decent gallop but probably left himself open to be collared close home. This time with his jockey knowing he stays the trip I think he goes around close the front and trades a fair bit shorter in-running.
Remember that this horse is proven at the Festival with his win in last season's Supreme Novices' showing that he handles the atmosphere and is classy enough to win a Grade 1. His stable are going great guns at the moment and he strikes me that he's ready to run for his life. Currently around the 10.09/1 mark on the exchange I think he trades shorter than 5.04/1 in-running.
Elliott can capture another Pertemps
Back The Storyteller @ 6.86/1 in the 14:10 Cheltenham
Trainer Gordon Elliott has enjoyed an electric start to the Festival and he really lit up day two, so here's to a big run from The Storyteller.
Elliott talks about his chances very positively in his column - and you can click here to read his views, as this has been his target all year.
He qualified with a nice prep run over Christmas time, and he can still exploit his rating of 149 in this sphere, which still could be a bit of a gift considering he was a Grade 1 winner over fences at the Punchestown Festival.
As a real stayer who just gallops, this sort of race in the ground could be right up his street. It's been a frustrating two days with three of my four horses getting places (including two for Elliott), so I am hoping The Storyteller can get over the line.
Classy Death Duty a big price for handicap bow
Back Death Duty @ 24.023/1 Win and 4.216/5 in 5 Places market
In his pomp, Death Duty was a proper horse - a dual Grade 1 winner over fences and hurdles as a novice. Unfortunately an injury and a lengthy spell on the sidelines curtailed his progress, which was such a shame as he could have gone to the top.
It's good to see he's had a couple of runs back after 758 days off, so it's a massive question mark to see if any of the old ability remains. However, I can't let him go at such a big price of 24.023/1 on the Exchange and also a nibble in the 5 Places market at above 3/1. There is also a 6 Places market available.
The excellent Gavin Brouder takes off 7lb, and that's always a plus for me in these big handicaps. It's not easy unpicking this year's Plate, but if he has any of that old class, it would be great to see him hit the frame.
Back The Storyteller @ 6.86/1 in the 14:10 at Cheltenham
Scratch that Itch
Back Itchy Feet at 5.79/2 in the 13:30 at Cheltenham
Itchy Feet should go close in this fascinating contest.
This gelding put in a much improved effort when beating Midnight Shadow in the Scilly Isles at Sandown last month. He found plenty in the closing stages and won going away. The favourite Laurina failed to complete, but this was a super effort from this likeable chaser nonetheless. He looks attractively priced at 5.79/2 on the exchange.
Samcro just heads the market at 5.59/2 on the exchange. He was no match for Faugheen at Limerick in December, but has had a recent wind-op. He has a bit to prove now, and have no interest at backing him at that price.
Frodon to repeat
Back Frodon at 6.25/1 in the 14:50 at Cheltenham
Frodon is taken to win this race for the second year in a row.
This consistent performer beat Keeper Hill in a Grade 2 at Kempton in January. He made all the running, and found plenty for pressure in the closing stages to score. He comes in to this race in cracking form, and has an excellent win-to-run ratio. I am certain he will run his race and looks super value at 6.25/1 on the exchange.
A Plus Tard is the favourite at 2.8815/8 on the exchange. He beat Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown in December, and deserves his position at the head of the market. Big danger.