Our trio return for the third day of the Cheltenham Festival marathon and you should know the format by now - an Each Way Edge selection and another bet that tickles their fancy. Here are their selections for Thursday at the Festival...
Alan Dudman - Take a Mullins outsider in the Thursday feature
Stayers' Hurdle (15:30)- Ignore the long break and back Penhill
Best bet material wouldn't normally come in the shape of a horse who hasn't been seen for the season and starts out in a Cheltenham Grade 1 - but that's what we are getting with Penhill. Making a comeback in this is not ideal, but the horse has won before from breaks of 179 days and 210 days, so perhaps we shouldn't be too negative.
And if any trainer knows how to get one ready having not been sighted for the season, it's Willie Mullins. Quevega anyone?
I cannot forget how easily Penhill landed last term's Albert Bartlett. He was cruising through at the end, and he beat a rattling good horse in Monalee by nearly four lengths.
This year's Stayers' looks open, and I do like Supasundae - but am now worried about the ground with him (especially with his stamina). That will play to the strengths of Sam Spinner, but Penhill is a fairly adaptable horse in terms of ideal surface.
Kim Muir Handicap Chase (17:30) - Employ Each-Way Edge on Wild West Wind
I am quite looking forward to seeing Wild West Wind, and he'll run better than his price suggests.
He was last seen refusing in the Grand National Trial at Haydock on heavy last month.
Wild West Wind travelled very kindly in that for a long way, but he'd had enough of the conditions towards the end. There's heavy and there's Haydock heavy. The Haydock heavy this season has been brutal, so much so that stopwatches have been ditched for calendars in order to time the horses.
His victory at Chepstow earlier in the season has worked out well, and he's a horse that can take the eye with his stylish manner for a stayer. From a mark of 144, he can have a big say in this for Tom and Noel George - and he is a decent price to do so.
Alan Thompson - Ballyalton to shine at Cheltenham and a Mullins four-timer
Plate Handicap Chase (16:10) - Ballyalton often saves his best for Cheltenham
The Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup is always a fascinating betting heat and with 26 runners in the field you need a leap of faith and a bit of luck to find the winner, but with Each Way Edge it gives you a fighting chance when you can push the places out to six and still retain a decent price.
I think you want a chaser that has some potential and isn't over exposed, certainly less than 13 career chase starts. Age isn't too much of a issue as this contest has been won by a horse over 10 years of age in nine of the last 31 renewals. Ballyalton, is of interest to me today, even though he is now 11-years-old, he has only run 18 times and only nine of those have been over fences.
He loves it round here, was runner up to Faugheen in the 2014 Neptune and then won the Close Brothers in 2016 off a mark just 2lbs above his mark today. He also made the frame in a couple of decent handicaps here in November and December and you can be sure that Ian Williams will have the old boy in peak condition heading into this.
He is 14/1 to win the race, but I am willing to drop that to 17/2 and take six places with Each Way Edge.
JLT Novices Chase (13:30) - An Invitation for Mullins to make it four in a row
Willie Mullins has won this race three times in a row and the last two with owners Graham and Andrea Wylie, in 2016 they won with Black Hercules and last year with Yorkhill, this year the same connections run Invitiation Only looking to make it hat-trick for the owners and for in a row for Mullins and Ruby Walsh.
He fell at his first attempt over fences but then won for the first time over fences making no jumping errors at Navan next time out, following that up with an equally impressive display at Punchestown in January. He then ran in the Flogas Chase at Leopardstown, where he just flattened out towards the end and got beaten into third off two very strong stayers. But, I think there is still more improvement to come from the seven-year-old and he looks the best horse in the race to me.
Nick Shiambouros - Two big priced selections for day 3
Ryanair Chase (14:50) - Balko Des Flos to upset rivals
Balko Des Flos is my idea of the winner of this fascinating contest.
This talented performer put in a much improved effort when finishing second to stablemate Road To Respect in the Grade 1 Christmas Chase at Leopardstown in December. Despite being friendless in the market, he pushed the winner all the way to the line and was only denied close home. I thought that was a fantastic effort, and should make his presence felt today. At present he is trading at [8.4] on the exchange which is more than fair.
Reigning champion Un De Sceaux heads the market at [2.48] on the exchange. He is unbeaten in two starts this season, and will not relinquish his crown without a fight. He is the obvious danger but is priced accordingly.
Stayers' Hurdle (15:30) - Wholestone has solid place claims
Wholestone is my each-way bet of the day.
This consistent gelding finished second to Agrapart over this course in January. He looked the likely winner on the run to the last, but did not find a great deal when let down. He is a four time course winner and often travels well in his races. I think he will be suited by a strongly run race, and should appreciate the underfoot conditions. This is a wide open race and could pop up at a big price. He is well worth backing Each-Way Edge 4 places at 12/1.
Long Walk Hurdle winner Sam Spinner is the favourite at [5.2] on the exchange. This lightly raced individual has a lot more to offer and will make a bold bid from the front.
Alan Dudman says...
Back Penhill in the 15:30 at Cheltenham (Best Bet)
Back Wild West Wind using Each-Way Edge (five places) in the 17:30 at Cheltenham