Timeform Cheltenham Festival SmartPlays: Thursday March 17

Course specialist Johns Spirit looks to have been laid out for the 16:10
Course specialist Johns Spirit looks to have been laid out for the 16:10
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Timeform pick out their three best bets for World Hurdle day at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival...

"Johns Spirit has a fantastic record at around two and a half miles at Cheltenham, finishing fifth in the Ryanair last year..."

Cup Final - Cheltenham 14:10

The betting vibes ahead of Cup Final's three handicap outings spread out over 15 months suggest strongly that he is held in some regard - started 5/4, 6/4 and 11/8 - and he can defy 7 lb rise for his latest win at Musselburgh last month in the competitive Pertemps Final. Cup Final is still unexposed after seven starts, winning handicaps on his last two, and he hails from the yard that took this race last year with a similar type in Call The Cops. Warren Greatrex's Missed Approach has been kept back for this race having turned a Newbury handicap into a procession in November and is considered, along with Irish raider Mall Dini.

Johns Spirit - Cheltenham 16:10

Jonjo O'Neill struck on the first day of the meeting with Minella Rocco and also had Holywell run well to finish second in a handicap, and he looks to have another good chance of a winner with Johns Spirit. Johns Spirit has a fantastic record at around two and a half miles at Cheltenham, finishing fifth in the Ryanair last year after winning at this track on his seasonal return, and, like Holywell, he looks to have have been laid out for a Festival handicap (he's dropped 12 lb in the weights since his reappearance). The Paul Nicholls-trained pair Stilletto and Salubrious could be his biggest dangers.

Smart Talk - Cheltenham 16:50

Limini has been the talking horse for the inaugural Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle for some time, but her overall form doesn't entitle her to be odds-on, and it may be worth siding with Smart Talk at the prices. Brian Ellison's tough and reliable mare took her form to a new level when gaining her fourth success at Doncaster in January, beating Lily Waugh in a Grade 2, and she's capable of overturning the red-hot favourite. Of the remainder, Chocca Wocca is bred to be smart and appeals as the type to improve with experience.

Timeform Cheltenham Festival SmartPlays

Back Cup Final in the 14:10
Back Johns Spirit in the 16:10
Back Smart Talk in the 16:50

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