Through The Card: Cheltenham, Thursday March 16

It's day three of the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday
It's day three of the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday
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Timeform take you through the card for day three of the Cheltenham Festival, providing recommended bets and a Placepot permutation.

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13:30 - YORKHILL (8) won the Neptune Novices' Hurdle (from Yanworth) at this meeting last year and, having won both his starts over fences, he should take all the beating as he bids for back-to-back Festival wins. He's probably unlucky not to be unbeaten as he clearly wasn't 100% when turned over at Punchestown last April, while he warmed to his task after a few early jumping scares when taking a part in a public schooling session at Leopardstown recently. Top Notch can beat Disko to the runner-up spot.

14:10 - Britain has fared well in the Pertemps Final, with nine winners in the past 10 years (Ireland won last year) and there's no shortage of possibilities this time around. The remarkable Tobefair is clearly one of them, but arguably the Timeform nap of the meeting is IMPULSIVE STAR (16) who has been beaten just once under Rules (fourth to Wholestone in a Cheltenham Grade 2) and was impressive when winning at Exeter on his handicap debut last time. Given the strength of his profile, we'll gamble and bank on him, though Gayebury, who qualified for this race at Chepstow when winning in good style (though is untried away from testing conditions), and Irish raiders Jury Duty and Presenting Percy (representing last year's winning connections) are a few others to consider.

14:50 - SUB LIEUTENANT (5) has improved markedly since he joined Henry de Bromhead from Sandra Hughes prior to the start of the core season, and since winning at Limerick in October and Down Royal (Grade 2) in November he's been beaten only by Outlander, Djakadam and Sizing John in two starts. He looks good value at the current prices, though clearly the standard-setting Un de Sceaux (and others) could potentially scupper him if his jockey insists on making the running. With that in mind, we'll take confirmed hold-up horse - and last year's Festival Plate winner - EMPIRE OF DIRT (4), too. He's another horse who is massively improved for a new yard this term.

15:30 - UNOWHATIMEANHARRY (12) has beaten the majority of this field three times, in the Long Distance at Newbury, Long Walk at Ascot and the Cleeve Hurdle over C&D, while his eight-race winning streak also included the Albert Bartlett at this meeting last year, so Harry Fry's most likeable stayer is hard to oppose. Ballyoptic is fairly priced on the pick of his form (not at his best when fourth in the Cleeve last time) and could represent some each-way value, whilst Shaneshill has finished second at the last three Cheltenham Festivals (Champion Bumper, Supreme and RSA) and is another to consider for a place.

16:10 - Last year's Coral Cup winner Diamond King ticks the "Festival form" box, though so does THOMAS CRAPPER (24) who was second in the 2014 Martin Pipe and won a Newbury Grade 3 handicap chase last time by 20 lengths. He's just snuck into the bottom of the weights and, clearly, if he's in the same form just 12 days on, he'll go very close. In a very competitive race, we'll probably need a couple more, so let's also take SIZING CODELCO (16), who's still lightly raced for the Tizzard yard and will benefit from a drop back in trip, and BARON ALCO (7), who chased home Top Notch in the Scilly Isles over this trip last time.

16:50 - Willie Mullins won the inaugural running of this in 2016 with Limini and LET'S DANCE (5) can follow suit. She shouldn't be inconvenienced by the step back in trip given that a strong end-to-end gallop is assured, and her form is just about the strongest on offer (beat subsequent Neptune fifth Kemboy in a Grade 2 last time). Her stablemates Airlie Beach and Asthuria both merit respect, but Forge Meadow is preferred for the forecast.

17:30 - SOUTHFIELD ROYALE is well handicapped on several pieces of form from 2015/16, most notably his splitting Tea For Two and Native River in a Grade 1 at Kempton, and though he was unable to prove that point in the Skybet Chase on January's return, he is well worth another chance. He was also fourth in the four-miler at last year's Festival and is fancied to go very close. Last year's Pertemps Final winner Mall Dini has clearly been laid out for a repeat Cheltenham bid and could be his biggest threat, though Premier Bond, Squouateur and last year's favourite Doctor Harper are considered too.

Recommendation:

Win back IMPULSIVE STAR in the 14:10 at Cheltenham
Win back SIZING CODELCO in the 16:10 at Cheltenham
Win back SOUTHFIELD ROYALE in the 17:30 at Cheltenham

Placepot permutation:

13:30 - 8
14:10 - 16
14:50 - 4, 5
15:30 - 12
16:10 - 7, 16, 23
16:50 - 5

6 lines

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