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Cheltenham horse racing preview: Jake Russell's ante-post tips for handicap races on Day Three at the Festival


Continuing his ante-post Cheltenham previews, horse racing pundit Jake Russell appraises the best early value lies in the handicap races on the third day of the Festival.

By @ Jake Russell

2.10pm - Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

Trainer Record (Last 20 years)

  • Gordon Elliott - 20 runners, 3 winners, 5 places
  • Jonjo O'Neill - 30 runners, 2 winners, 1 place
  • David Pipe - 26 runners, 2 winners, 4 places
  • Patrick Kelly - 2 runners, 2 winners
  • Philip Hobbs - 26 runners, 1 winner. 1 place

Jockey Record (Last 20 years)

  • Aidan Coleman - 12 rides, 1 winner, 1 place
  • Paddy Brennan - 9 rides, 1 winner, 3 places
  • Richie McLernon - 5 rides, 1 winner
  • Conor O'Farrell - 4 rides. 1 winner
  • Sam Twiston-Davies - 13 rides, 1 place

Last 10 horses to win the Pertemps Final

  1. Fingal Bay - Richard Johnson & Philip Hobbs (2014)
  2. Call The Cops - Nicky Henderson & Andrew Tinkler (2015)
  3. Mall Dini - Patrick Kelly & Davy Russell (2016)
  4. Presenting Percy - Patrick Kelly & Davy Russell (2017)
  5. Delta Work - Gordon Elliott & Davy Russell (2018)
  6. Sire Du Berlais - Gordon Elliott & Barry Geraghty (2019)
  7. Sire Du Verlais - Gordon Elliott & Barry Geraghty (2020)
  8. Mrs Milner - Paul Nolan & B J Cooper (2021)
  9. Third Wind - Hughie Morrison & Tom O'Brien (2022)
  10. Good Time Jonny - A J Martin & Liam McKenna (2023)

Britain vs Ireland

  • Britain - 11 winners and 40 places from 357 runners
  • Ireland - 9 winners and 20 places from 104 runners

My Pertemps Final ante-post selection:

When you think of a minefield race for the Cheltenham Festival, then this contest will spring to a few people’s minds. It is a typical Festival handicap with plenty of runners, who will no doubt have been lined up perfectly for this contest, and it also takes a pretty hardy horse to win it. 

He is becoming a little bit of a cliff horse for me now, but I just can't look away from Kyntara for Mel Rowley, who has really worked wonders with this horse since taking over from Kim Bailey. 

Kyntara has had four runs for the new yard, with two wins and two very good 2nd placed efforts. He was rated 118 for Kim Bailey, and now he is a 131-rated horse, and has qualified for the Pertemps Final with a decent, but very unlucky 2nd at Warwick. 

He looked to make all that day, and he did look to have the race in the bag, but an unfortunate stumble after the last meant that he got collared late on down the Warwick straight, although he did battle on well and only get beaten by three quarters of a length. 

Last time he did the same in that he tried to make all, jumped well but was just outstayed by a thorough stayer of Alan King's who was a very good horse back in the day, and the described heavy ground might have hindered Kyntara that day. 

There appears to be more in the locker for this horse, and although he likes to make all, something he might not be able to do at Cheltenham, the mark of 131 looks below his level and he can go well here, after what should have been a win in the qualifying race at Warwick a month or so back.

  • Selection - Kyntara (12/1 SkyBet)

4.10pm - TrustATrader Plate Handicap Chase  

Trainer Record (Last 20 years)

  • Venetia Williams - 28 runners, 3 winners, 5 places
  • David Pipe - 26 runners, 3 winners, 4 places
  • Nicky Henderson - 30 runners, 2 winners, 5 places
  • Gordon Elliott - 11 runners, 1 winner, 2 places
  • Evan Williams - 7 runners, 1 winner, 3 places

Jockey Record (Last 20 years)

  • Adam Wedge - 6 rides, 1 winner, 1 place
  • David Bass - 4 rides, 1 winner
  • Gavin Sheehan - 4 rides, 1 winner
  • Jordan Gainford - 2 rides, 1 winner
  • William Biddick - 1 ride, 1 winner

Last 20 horses to win the Plate Handicap Chase:

  1. Ballynagour - David Pipe & Tom Scudamore (2014)
  2. Darna - Kim Bailey & David Bass (2015)
  3. Empire Of Dirt - C A Murphy & B J Cooper (2016)
  4. Road To Respect - Noel Meade & B J Cooper (2017)
  5. The Storyteller - Gordon Elliott & Davy Russell (2018)
  6. Siruh Du Lac - Nick Williams & Lizzie Kelly (2019)
  7. Simply The Betts - Harry Whittington & Gavin Sheehan (2020)
  8. The Shunter - Emmet Mullins & Jordan Gainford (2021)
  9. Coole Cody - Evan Williams & Adam Wedge (2022)
  10. Seddon - John McConnell & Ben Harvey (2023)

Britain vs Ireland

  • Britain - 15 winners and 51 places from 362 runners
  • Ireland - 5 winners and 6 places from 65 runners

My Plate Handicap Chase ante-post selection: 

This is a rare Festival race that is a happy hunting ground for UK-bred horses, and although recent winner Gordon Elliott has a few entered up for it this year, I think this race could once again be won by a UK-based trainer. 

Harry Fry has had Unowwhatimeanharry and Love Envoi win at the Festival, with both of them landing Graded races previously, so he is very capable in training a Cheltenham Festival winner. 

His expected runner In Excelsis Deo could make amends for that slightly unfortunate unseating last time, and win the Plate of his current mark of 137 which would mean (if he gets in) that he would carry a very nice low weight around Cheltenham. 

A slight concern might be the lack of wins over fences (just one in seven), but he was in with a real chance when unseating at the last at Sandown last time, as he was making good headway and went alongside the leader Harper's Brook, who is sometimes known to throw the towel in late on in races. 

That race was a real mess, with horses unseating early on before running loose and causing havoc, and Harry Fry's horse looked in good position to run on well enough to go up the Sandown Hill and get his head in front that day. 

Although he would have to tackle the 2m4f trip for only the second time in his career in the Plate, his running style should suit, and to add to that is the two previous runs at Cheltenham fairly recently where he came 3rd (only beaten by 2 and a half lengths) and 2nd (only beaten by 3 lengths and was a further 10 plus lengths clear of the 3rd), so I think he will carry a nice weight around come Festival week, and I hope connections go for this race instead of the Grand Annual. 

  • Selection - In Excelsis Deo (10/1 SkyBet)

5.30 - Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockey's Handicap Chase

Trainer Record (Last 20 years)

  • David Pipe - 29 runners, 2 winners, 2 places
  • Gordon Elliott - 18 runners, 2 winners, 6 places
  • Donald McCain - 11 runners, 2 winners, 1 place
  • Jonjo O'Neill - 27 runners, 1 winner, 2 places
  • Venetia Williams - 25 runners, 1 winner, 5 places

Jockey Record (Last 20 years)

  • J.J Codd - 17 rides with 4 winners, 2 places
  • Derek O'Connor - 16 rides with 1 winner, 4 places
  • Gina Andrews - 8 rides, 1 winner
  • Lucy Turner - 5 rides, 1 winner
  • Rob James - 3 rides, 1 winner

Past 10 winners of the Kim Muir

  1. Spring Heeled - Jim Culloty & Robbie McNamara (2014)
  2. The Package - David Pipe & J.J Codd (2015)
  3. Cause Of Causes - Gordon Elliott & J.J Codd (2016)
  4. Domesday Book - Stuart Edmunds & Gina Andrews (2017)
  5. Missed Approach - Warren Greatrex & N McParlan (2018)
  6. Any Second Now - Ted Walsh & Derek O'Connor (2019)
  7. Milan Native - Gordon Elliott & Rob James (2020)
  8. Mount Ida - Denise Foster & Jack Kennedy (2021)
  9. Chambard - Venetia Williams & Lucy Turner (2022)
  10. Angles Dawn - S Curling & P A King (2023)

Britain vs Ireland

  • Britain - 13 winners and 38 places from 356 runners
  • Ireland - 6 winners and 19 places from 90 runners
  • France - 1 winner and 3 places from 11 runners

My Kim Muir ante-post selection: 

Again another race that seems to suit British runners, and depending on who you back in this race will depend on jockey bookings in this amateurs-only race, so you really want the best amateur booking possible to ride your horse. 

That being said, there is one in here that really caught my eye, and that is Daily Present for Paul Nolan, who won the Pertemps Final as recently as 2021 with Mrs Milner. 

Daily Present is a lightly-raced sort who came good in a handicap chase over 3 miles at Down Royal in January, and although he would need quite a few of these to drop out, if he were to get in then the weight he will be expected to carry will be 10st-10lb around, which is a perfect weight for a race of this nature. 

He came good when winning last time due to the first time tongue strap being applied, and that seemed to have worked wonders for Paul Nolan and connections. There could be a slight element of risk with this selection as he might not get into the race, but with a bit of luck and a few dropping out, this lightly-raced and improving son of Mahler looks to be a real nice staying type in the making. 

  • Selection - Daily Present (16/1 Generally)


Previews and tips provided by @ Jake Russell

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