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Paul Nicholls at Cheltenham: The thoughts on my day three runners at Prestbury Park

Paul's Zarkandar is back for another crack at the Stayer's Hurdle on Thursday
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The Stayers' Hurdle is the feature race on day three of the Festival, and Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has a live outsider going for the prize. You can read Paul's exclusive views on all of his nine runners here...


Cheltenham 15:30 - Zarkandar

"Zarkandar would have gone close in this race two years ago but for an uncharacteristic blunder at the second last just as things were getting interesting. He is very well in himself and deserves this shot at another championship race."

Cheltenham 13:30 - Politologue

Has quickly developed into a top novice this season, jumping fluently, winning three times and this has been the long term target all season.

He also kept on well when narrowly beaten at Haydock. While this is the fastest ground he has encountered he should handle it and comes here with big chance.


Cheltenham 14:10 - El Bandit

Has turned inside out this season, winning six times with the result that he comes here on a new high mark of 143 after being put up 4lbs for his latest success at Musselburgh. He stays well, is very willing and looks like the pick of my three in the Pertemps.


Cheltenham 14:10 - Mr Mix

Fell in a novice chase at Fakenham last time and reverts to hurdles here as there is no point in trying to win over fences with him so late in the season.

Although he won nicely at Wincanton on Boxing Day and should appreciate the better ground I'd say he is on a high enough mark.


Cheltenham 14:10 - Caid Du Berlais

Is fine after his first fence tumble at the course on Tuesday and schooled nicely over hurdles this morning. Stan Sheppard keeps the ride on Caid Du Berlais who would have a squeak on the form of his hurdles win at Aintree earlier in the season.


Cheltenham 15:30 - Zarkandar

Has been a legend for us since winning the Triumph Hurdle back in 2011 and after a year off with a leg injury showed the fire of battle still burns deep with a gritty success last time at Haydock.

Zarkandar would have gone close in this race two years ago but for an uncharacteristic blunder at the second last just as things were getting interesting.

He is very well in himself and deserves this shot at another championship race.


Cheltenham 16:10 - Art Mauresque

Is a decent handicapper when conditions are in his favour which they are here but I'm worried that he is on a stiff enough mark now.

I've deliberately kept him away from the worst of the winter ground, he is fresh and well and he was full of zest when he worked at Wincanton recently.


Cheltenham 16:10 - Bouvreuil

I've had this race earmarked for Bouvreuil for a while. He, too, worked nicely at Wincanton on the same day as Art Mauresque and has had a nice little break since last running in December.

It's also encouraging that he was a close second at the Festival on the opening day last year.


Cheltenham 16:50 - Coillte Lass

Has done brilliantly for Ditcheat Thoroughbreds this season, winning three times before finishing a creditable third behind Vroum Vroum Mag at Doncaster.

Coillte Lass is a good mare who would maybe prefer a slightly longer trip than this though the Cheltenham hill will be in her favour. While I am very happy with her the Irish do look to hold a really strong hand in this.


Cheltenham 17:30 - Unioniste

Will be ridden for the first time here by his new owner David Maxwell, a mad keen amateur who could have a lot of fun on him in hunter chases next season.

While Unioniste is another handicapped to the hilt he might just enjoy this better ground after slogging round in the mud this winter.


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