Fresh from backing the winner of the Coral Cup at 33/1, Tony Calvin returns with seven bets for day three of the Festival, including a huge priced outsider for the Stayers...
"Faugheen’s price has ebbed away in recent days though, so I am going suggest you chance a very speculative, minimum-stakes win-only bet on Yanworth at [65.0] or bigger."
Price is everything in betting - though if you haven't had a Cheltenham winner by Friday then you would probably be tempted to take 10/11 on a toss-of-the-coin to try to get one in the bag - and that is why the JLT at 13:30, makes for such an interesting betting race.
Kildistart can upset front runners in the JLT
I have nothing against the market leaders Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation but they are basically the same horse on their clashes this season, and they are eminently beatable.
Indeed, Willie Mullins' Real Steel is the highest-rated in here on official ratings, and his Voix Du Reve isn't far behind, so I have to field against the top two in the betting
It is clearly a very tight race, with very little between the 10 runners at it stands - the lowest-rated, Castafiore, comes here after a career-best at Kempton last time and shouldn't be underestimated - but Kildisart is worth an each-way interest at 9/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook.
Trip and ground look ideal for him, and he took a big step forward when beating Highway One O One off a mark of 141 in a handicap over course and distance.
It was actually too big a step for connections as the assessor raised him 6lb to 147, ruling him out of the handicaps this week, but it did underline that he had the class to win a JLT.
That handicap win came in a good time too and, if his jumping holds up - he can leave the odd one behind - then hopefully he will prove hard to kick out of the frame at least for a stable already among the winners this week.
I was tempted by Mengli Khan at around 16/1 on the exchange, as the softer ground will suit him - he has been taking on Le Richebourg on good ground on his most recent starts - and he has Festival form, having finished third in the Supreme last season.
In terms of class, he is right up there with these, but you have to question whether his stamina will ebb away in the closing stages on this ground. He has yet to race beyond 2m1f.
Two bets for the Pertemps
Sire Du Berlais finished fourth in the Martin Pipe here last year and he shaped with ominous promise on his first attempt over 3m at Leopardstown over Christmas.
The UK handicapper has given him an extra 3lb but that hasn't deterred punters and, with the cheek pieces on for the first time, everyone seemingly assumes this is a long-term JP McManus plot-up in the Pertemps at 14:10.
But I have to take him on at his price, and Notwhatiam is worth a punt at [14.0] or bigger.
He won on soft and heavy ground when trained in Ireland and he has run well on all five starts since joining Dan Skelton. Indeed, he may well have rattled up a hat-trick had he stood up here in October.
He subsequently found the 2m4f trip inadequate at Aintree, and he caught the eye when staying on well from off the pace on good ground at Warwick last time. Everything looks set for a big run from him here.
Champers On Ice is also very interesting at [19.0] or bigger.
He cost £205,000 after winning his point a few years back, and immediately stamped himself a smart horse with a bumper wins and a series of good hurdling performances as a novice that culminated in an Albert Bartlett third in 2016.
He hasn't taken much racing since then but he shaped nicely after well over a year off the track when fourth at Haydock last month, and he has been eased 1lb for it.
He is now rated 8lb lower than when he was placed at the Festival in 2016 and he has revelled in soft and heavy ground in the past.
Ryanair looks a deep race
The Ryanair at 14:50 looks to have "steer well clear" written all over it to me.
I have long thought that this was the race for Monalee - and I hope he wins because I had a nibble on Rachael Blackmore for top jockey at 50s and 40s on Tuesday morning - but this looks some deep race now that Road To Respect, Un De Sceaux and Footpad have been confirmed for the race.
I also have a lot of time for Frodon, and there are very positive noises emanating about Terrefort from Seven Barrows, and I haven't even mentioned last year's deeply impressive winner Balko Des Flos.
You may have guessed that it is easy to fancy at least six in here, so I have to pass. I haven't got a clue what will win.
An extra bet on the Stayers' Hurdle
The more I look at the race the more I feel that the Stayers' Hurdle at 15:30 could well be a match between the market leaders Paisley Park and Faugheen, and that augurs well for our 10/1 each way ante-post proposition on the latter.
I don't think Paisley Park is at all a bad price at all around 2/1+ as he clocked a great time and put up an outstanding form performance when running away with the Cleeve Hurdle.
If there is more to come then he will take the world of beating, but I do think he has a kink or two to him - he seemed to think about it a couple of times here last time before putting on the after-burners - and I reckon he could struggle to reel in Faugheen here.
Faugheen is just about the only Irish horse that the UK handicapper has downgraded this week, as he is rated 169 at home but only 167 over here, which seems very convenient considering the favourite is on a mark of 168.
Whatever, there are really positive vibes surrounding Faugheen coming into this race, and he is reported to have recovered really well from a nasty fall behind Apple's Jade last time, and this dual Festival winner has a massive form chance on his Punchestown defeat of Penhill last April.
I couldn't deter you from putting that pair in a reverse forecast.
Faugheen's price has ebbed away in recent days though, so I am going suggest you chance a very speculative, minimum-stakes win-only bet on Yanworth at [65.0] or bigger. I know I have written this race could well be a match, but the simple fact is that price is simply too big for a horse of his talent, for all he could be a complete blow-out.
It takes some explaining as he ran deplorably on his reappearance at Haydock last month - Alan King could find no reason for the poor run and has said his work has been very ordinary since - but I think he is exactly the kind of horse who could respond favourably to the first-time blinkers here and certainly his record on testing ground, and at this Festival, gives you hope, too.
He finished fourth in the bumper in 2015, second in the Neptune in 2016, seventh in the Champion in 2017 and a seven-length sixth in this race last year. He has also won Grade 2 races over hurdles and fences here, perhaps tellingly in heavy ground.
He was rated 164 at his peak, not far off the principals, and maybe the headgear and return to this track on ground that he clearly handles well could re-ignite the flame.
Alan King has a good strike-rate when trying this headgear on his horses for the first time, with 21 winners from 124 attempts since 2006.
Two bets for the Plate
Kalondra is definitely worth a bet at 12/1 each way, five places, in the Plate at 16:10.
There are obvious negatives connected to him in that he hasn't been seen since tailing off at Haydock in November - where apparently the stiffer-than-usual fences frightened him early on - and his jumping has often been his Achilles heel.
And none more so than in the process of running a screamer against far higher-rated horses when falling two out at Galway last summer, and when unseating in the BetVictor in November.
But, and it's a fairly big but, if he puts in a proficient round of fencing then he is handicapped to win this. He beat Coo Star Sivola and Movewiththetimes on soft ground on this New Course here last season and was played too soon when third here in April.
Expect Noel Fehily to nurse him into the race and deliver him late, and the better form of the Neil Mulholland in recent weeks is a positive.
I hope David Pipe (pictured above) has a good day as I think his Eamon An Cnoic has a huge run in him, and he warrants a good bet at 14/1 each way.
He tanked through the race in the Ultima last year before his stamina ran out over 3m1f there, and I think this 2m4f on testing ground is ideal for him.
He was raised 7lb for his Chepstow over 2m win last time, but that enabled him to get into the race and he is only back to the mark that he ran off here last year, anyway.
That Chepstow win was also his first run after a wind op - so hopefully he can kick on now - and it also came in a very good time. The stable have an excellent record in this race, winning it three times in the last nine years (and before that too, as well).
Of the remainder, Kauto Riko looks overpriced at around 33/1. I won't put him up but this is the case for him in case you want a third interest (as I might well do....)
This is his first start at the track, which is always a concern, and he certainly doesn't have a sexy profile. And he was beaten off this mark at Wetherby last time, and all his recent form has come over the minimum trip. Quite of a list if negatives to kick off with.
But it was good ground last time and he was earlier a different proposition when winning in heavy ground at Haydock (though he went up 8lb for that win) , and the return to deeper ground here is very much in his favour.
And he does have plenty of earlier form over this longer trip, so I think he is worth a second nibble in the race. He has a leading chance on the clock, too.
I've no meaningful betting interest in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle at 16:50 - probably just as well given that I have already had six bets already - though the hard-pulling Epatante in a first-time hood at 2/1 doesn't appeal to me whatsoever. Sinoria at 8/1 would be a better bet to my eye.
A Perfect Candidate for the lucky last
I don't often play at the top of the market but I can tell you I was mightily tempted by Measureofmydreams in the Kim Muir at 17:30 even if he was 33/1 about a fortnight ago and is now into about 6/1.
He is allowed to race off his Irish mark here - most of the travellers have been given an extra 3lb or 4lb - and that looks even more generous when you consider how "eye-catching" his prep run was at Fairyhouse last month, his first run since April 2017.
He finished third in a National Hunt Chase here in 2016, and a mark of 137 could seriously underestimate him.
But I will reluctantly let him pass - he is by far my idea of the most likely winner - and throw a few quid on old boy Perfect Candidate, the oldest in the party at 12yo, at [34.0] or bigger on the exchange.
His age is an obvious concern but his ability to act around here on soft ground isn't, and the handicapper has dropped him 3lb for a respectable third to Tuesday's winner Beware The Bear here last time. That's the argument for him, really.
Kildisart each way at 9/1 in 13:30
Notwhatiam at [14.0] or bigger and Champers On Ice at [19.0] or bigger in 14:10
Yanworth at [65.0] or bigger in 15:30
Kalondra at 12/1 each-way and Eamon An Cnoic at 16/1 each-way, five places, in 16:10
Perfect Candidate at [34.0] or bigger
Faugheen each-way at 10/1 in 15:30