Four chances for Paul on Day 3 at Cheltenham
Stage Star and Hitman have claims in hot races
Paul Nicholls' Ditcheat Diary - Cheltenham Special Day 3
Thrilled with latest win and he's in great shape
13:30 Turners' Novices Chase - Stage Star
I was thrilled with the way Stage Star won a handicap under top weight of 12 stone in soft ground on this course at the end of January. He pretty much led all the way jumping beautifully and absolutely bolted in.
Two and a half miles is ideal for Stage Star who is progressive and in great shape. The form of his latest win is good but this is a hot race and he has to raise his game.
Consistent but looks up against it here
14:10 Pertemps Final - Jet Of Magic
He's been so consistent this season, handles soft ground, and ran as well as ever when third to Green Book in a valuable race at Sandown six weeks ago. But his current mark of 129 is hardly generous and he looks up against it in this seriously competitive handicap.
We could be in business if cheekpieces do the trick
14:50 Ryanair Chase - Hitman
I've always thought he had a big race in him but he has been a bit frustrating, didn't jump well in the King George and then didn't quite get home last time over three miles at Newbury on ground that was a bit quicker than he likes.
Yet he is still a young horse, only just six and hasn't reached full maturity yet and I'm sure there is better to come over this trip.
I'm putting cheekpieces on Hitman, I've saved them for this day, and if they the same effect on him as they did on Il Ridoto in January then we are in business.
If Shiskin repeats the form of his recent Ascot win then we are all running for places. But that was only 26 days ago and there is a question mark that he had a hard race that day.
Loves soft ground and there's plenty more to come
16:10 Plate Handicap Chase - Il Ridoto
He was raised 8lbs for a career best last time at Cheltenham when he landed a valuable handicap in a tight finish with Fugitif. That is fair enough as they were 15 lengths clear of the third horse. Il Ridoto looked a completely different animal in first time cheekpieces that day, jumped for fun and found plenty in the closing stages.
The headgear sharpened his mind, made him focus and helped him gallop all the way to the line which he hadn't been doing earlier in the season. There is plenty more to come from Il Ridoto as he is only six, still a baby, and loves soft ground.
Best Chance: Il Ridoto - 16:10.
"He looked very smart last time and has to have a decent chance if the cheek pieces work again."
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