After an incredible FIVE winners in two days - which has seen us paying out on him being the Top Trainer at the Festival - Gordon has seven runners on day three. Here, the Betfair Ambassador gives us his exclusive thoughts on them all...
"He has a decent chase mark, just 1lb higher than his equivalent rating over hurdles when he won at last year’s festival, and it’s fair to say this race has been the plan for some time now."
- Gordon on Diamond King
Cheltenham 14:10 - Sutton Manor
Although this lad won his maiden over 2m 2f I have always thought he was an out-and-out stayer and he showed that with a nice win over Hollow Tree in a 3m handicap hurdle at Thurles last month. Lisa O'Neill has answered every call for us this season and on Monday she showed how good she was when winning on Tiger Roll, despite not being able to claim her 5lbs allowance and she takes a valuable 5lbs off here. Should go well.
Cheltenham 14:10 - Jury Duty
Was ultra-impressive when landing a decent handicap hurdle in Navan off a mark of 126. He subsequently finished second to Gaeybury in a qualifier for this race at Chepstow and although he was beaten a long way he was giving away 11lbs to the winner so I wasn't too disappointed with that. He's been a very consistent horse for us and will really appreciate the drying ground. I think this fellow has a really good each-way chance in typically competitive renewal.
Cheltenham 14:50 - Empire Of Dirt
This guy won the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate over the course and distance at last year's festival, when under the care of Colm Murphy, and he has had just two runs for us but they have been two belters. He won the Troytown off a near top weight of 11st 8lbs, the form of which has worked out well. Then backed that up when he ran an absolute cracker to finish 3/4L second to Sizing John in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown. That was his first time in graded company and it had us considering the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he wouldn't be out of place there. But after a lot of discussions we decided to go the Ryanair route.
Everyone knows his owner Michael O'Leary would love to win his own race. He's in great form and I'm expecting a very good run, I'll be disappointed if he doesn't go very close.
Cheltenham 15:30 - Dedigout
He's eleven now and it's fair to say that his best years are behind him but we are happy to let him take his chance although, realistically, a place is the best we can hope for at this stage of his career. Definitely not a betting proposition.
Cheltenham 16:10 - Diamond King
He has a decent chase mark, just 1lb higher than his equivalent rating over hurdles when he won at last year's festival, and it's fair to say this race has been the plan for some time now. Having said that, he was sent off favourite for the G1 Drinmore Chase in Fairyhouse last December but a bad mistake at the last put paid to his chances there. I've repeated the same mantra to anyone who would listen about this lad, the ground is key, the better the ground, the better his chances and thankfully it looks like conditions will suit. I'm really looking forward to him running and he is probably one of my best chances this week.
Cheltenham 16:50 - Barra
Was second to a couple of nice horses in Invitation Only and Joey Sasa before breaking her duck when landing a mare's maiden at Fairyhouse by 12L. All told, I wasn't too disappointed with her in the G1 Deloitte Novices Hurdle on Irish Gold Cup day in Leopardstown. She made a mistake three out and got tired from the back of the last. The winner, Bacardys is also a very nice horse. The trip and ground will suit her fine and I've decided to put on a tongue tie for the first time to help her. She has a decent each way chance but Willie Mares, Let's Dance and Airlie Beach will take all the beating.
Cheltenham 17:30 - Squouateur
We fancied this fellow for the Martin Pipe last season, and if memory serves me correct, he went off favourite for that race, but could never landed a blow. After Cheltenham we thought a step up in trip would suit and ran him over 3 mile in Aintree but he disappointed again. You would have to say he has been pretty disappointing in the main but he did show some sparkle when second to Westerners Son in Naas last month albeit over 2 miles. In terms of trip we are going into the unknown a bit but I've always felt he would stay. We have Jamie Codd in the plate and I feel he is worth a stone to a horse in these amateur race. The horse is in great form at home but the ground would be a slight concern. Very decent each way chance.
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