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Through The Card: The Timeform view on every race on Day Three of the Festival

Cheltenham Racecourse
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival continues at 1.30pm on Thursday with an intriguing Grade 1 JLT Novices' Chase

Timeform run through the card at Cheltenham on Day Three of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival...

"...he's unexposed at staying trips, so a big run is expected at around the 16/1 mark this morning."

Timeform on Touch Kick

13:30 - Like all of the novice chases this week, the JLT looks particularly wide open, and it could well centre on the battle between Defi du Seuil and LOSTINTRANSLATION (4), who are due to clash for the third time this season. The score currently stands a 1-1, and while Defi du Seuil overturned the form of Lostintranslation's win here on New Year's Day when winning the Scilly Isles at Sandown last month, the return to this track will seemingly suit Colin Tizzard's charge down to the ground, particularly if his stamina is allowed to come into play late on. Of the remainder, it's also fairly easy to see KILDISART (3) running a big race, and he looks worth adding to your placepot permutation. He's improved with each of his three starts over fences to date, winning the last twice, and caught the eye when winning the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase on his most recent start here in January. He will need to find a little bit on form to have serious claims, but he's open to more improvement yet and it would be no surprise to see him feature in what's far from a vintage renewal of the JLT.

14:10 - The winner of the Pertemps Final frequently goes on to bigger and better things, and while it remains to be seen whether there will be one with the calibre of the 2017 winner Presenting Percy lurking this time around, it's difficult to knock the claims of the improving FIRST ASSIGNMENT (6). He produced a career-best performance to finish third in a qualifier at Warwick on his most recent start in January, and while it's likely that he will really come into his own when sent chasing, he's a useful performer in his own right in this sphere, and he should go close with more to come off his current BHA-mark of 142. This is wide open, though, and ABOLITIONIST (23) also catches the eye for the shrewd Dr Richard Newland team. The Grand National is of course the ultimate aim with him, but it's worth noting that the 2013 National winner Pineau de Re ran an excellent race to finish third for the same connections in the 2013 renewal of this before excelling himself at Aintree, and considering how well Abolitionist won his qualifier for this at Aintree in November, it would be no surprise to see him run into a place of what looks a generous mark.

14:50 - The Ryanair is often somewhat forgotten as a championship race at the festival, mainly due to the fact that it has to share the stage with the Stayers' Hurdle, but this is shaping up to be one of the races of the meeting. Willie Mullins has an excellent hand, sending both FOOTPAD (5), and the 2017 winner of this race, Un de Sceaux. The latter ran a fine race to finish second to Altior on his sole start this season at Sandown in December, but the good to soft ground is unlikely to suit him, meaning that his stablemate is the preferred option. Footpad was an outstanding novice last term, producing a monster performance to win the Arkle at this meeting last year, and though he hasn't been at his best in two starts so far this term, his most recent run to finish second at Leopardstown over Christmas was very encouraging indeed. Footpad looked back to his best for 99% of the race that day, before just getting collared close home by one with a wet sail in Simply Ned, and there's every reason to think that will have put him spot on for this. He sets the standard on form, and should he return to his best, the 4/1 on offer this morning could look very big indeed by 3pm. Frodon, Monalee and Road To Respect are three more to consider in a wide open Grade 1 contest.

15:30 - It's very difficult to look past PAISLEY PARK (10), who arrives here as one of the most improved horses in training this season. A winner of his two opening starts in handicaps at Aintree and Haydock respectively this season, Paisley Park took a big step forward to win the Grade 1 Long Walk at Ascot in December, before improving on that once again to tear apart the field in the Cleeve Hurdle at this track in January - scoring by 12 lengths and defeating several of today's rivals. With the prospect of more improvement yet, he's impossible to oppose and is fancied to take this for the Emma Lavelle team. He's short enough, though, meaning that there's plenty of value to be had from an each-way perspective, meaning it's worth including BAPAUME (2) at around 22/1 this morning. He's one of four runners for the Willie Mullins team, perhaps explaining why his price is so big, but he ran his best race for a while when finishing second behind Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy at Gowran Park in January, and a repeat of the high-class form he showed when winning in France last summer would give him outstanding claims of hitting the frame at the very least - particularly with four places on offer.

16:10 - Another notoriously difficult handicap chase to try and solve, though Nicky Henderson's JANIKA (1) has excellent claims on the form he has shown so far. A prolific performer in France, Janika has yet to win in two starts on these shores so far, but he has impressed in both of his outings, most recently when finshing second over C&D on Trials Day in January, and he could be up to winning this off top weight with more improvement highly likely. Stablemate RIVER WYLDE (2) looked almost certain to win before suffering a heavy fall at the last on reappearance at Haydock in November, and although we didn't get to see too much of him during his novice campaign last season, he was a smart performer over hurdles, and having been given plenty of time to recover from that fall, it would be no surprise to see him run well here.

16:50 - Our penultimate race is also the fourth Grade 1 contest of the day, and while Willie Mullins has won all three runnings of this race so far, his strangehold looks set to be broken by Nicky Henderson's EPATANTE (20), whose strength in the market is tough to ignore. Admittedly, she hasn't beaten much in her two starts in low key novice contests so far, but she's yet to come off the bridle, and doesn't have too much to find with the top-rated Posh Trish on form. Indeed, she has a 'large P' attached to her Timeform rating, too, meaning that she is open to significant improvement yet, and it would be no surprise should she prove to be a class act.

17:30 - Last but not least this afternoon we have the Kim Muir, another race which looks particularly wide open. It's possible to make a case for plenty, including the favourite, Measureofmydreams, but he looks short enough at around 4/1 at the time of writing, and one who makes plenty of appeal each-way is TOUCH KICK (22). He's all about stamina, and produced his best performance yet when scoring over just shy of three miles in testing conditions at Taunton in January, rallying well to lead in the dying strides. Today's extra couple of furlongs will suit him down to the ground and he's unexposed at staying trips, so a big run is expected at around the 16/1 mark this morning.

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