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1.20 - Marsh Novices' Chase (Grade 1, 2m4f)
Rider Jack Kennedy was in flying form on day one of the Festival with a brace of early winners and his biggest moment of the week, indeed the whole season, arrives here with unbeaten superstar ENVOI ALLEN seeking to make it three Cheltenham Festival wins after success in the Bumper and the Ballymore already.
The recent switch from Gordon Elliott to Henry De Bromhead has reportedly gone smoothly and Envoi Allen will have his faithful sidekick Seanin Mahon with him at Cheltenham, after De Bromhead invited her to lead him up - a gesture both kind and smart in equal measure in attempting to maintain the horse's routine.
The hype around the likes of Shiskin and Monkfish this week means that Envoi Allen almost finds himself under the radar as his fellow novices' garnered plenty of attention.
He doesn't do things flashy and won't hand out a pummelling to his rivals in all probability, but this faultless performer can once again take the prize away and maintain his trajectory towards ultimate Gold Cup glory in the future.
Shan Blue won the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Christmas with a bold front-running display, but he was picked off last time by Sporting John at Sandown and his Ballymore run last March leaves him with lots to find on the market leader today at a track that brings questions for him.
Darver Star and Fusil Raffles both have strong course form, with Gavin Cromwell's charge likely to arrive late on the scene and possibly take some prize money home.
Chatham Street Lad is jumping right up in class, while Asterion Forlonge had his troubles in the Supreme here last March and looks a danger to himself in the jumping department, ensuring he can't be supported, though it's noted Paul Townend prefers him to Willie Mullins-trained stablemate Blackbow - who could have a chance.
Closest pursuer of the selection therefore may be Nicky Henderson's Chantry House. He was third in the Supreme last season and is 2-3 over fences this season. He's been impressive in wins at Ascot and Wetherby and his December third behind Fusil Raffles around here is best forgiven as he never seemed to be on a going day for some reason.
He's got something to offer in this event and could get the silver medal ahead of Blackbow.
1.55 - Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3, 3m)
Two of the key pieces of the Pertemps Final jigsaw are missing this season, with Davy Russell having ridden three winners in the last five years and Gordon Elliott having trained the last three victors. It means Ireland are going for six straight wins in this competitive handicap.
The Bosses Oscar runs for interim trainer Denise Foster with the excellent claimer Jordan Gainford booked to take 7lb off his top-weight burden and they should be right at home amidst the hustle and bustle of this big-field scenario.
Dandy Mag (Willie Mullins), Mrs Milner (Paul Nolan) and Anything Will Do (Joseph O'Brien) are amongst the remaining strong Irish contingent, but the British presence are fancied to strike a blow back in this contest.
Southfield Harvest (Paul Nicholls), Imperial Alcazar (Fergal O'Brien) and Champagne Platinum (Nicky Henderson) are all deemed credible threats but the pair put forward are Brinkley and COME ON TEDDY.
Tom George's Come On Teddy was third behind Imperial Alcazar at Warwick in January on their most recent starts. The winner must deal with an 8lb rating-hike for that success, while the selection has been left alone on a perch of 134 for this mission.
It certainly has a ring of 'losing the battle but winning the war' for Jonathan Burke's mount and he can overturn that form. He beat some smart sorts, including On The Blind Side, when winning a handicap over this trip here in December on his sole Cheltenham start and is not yet fully exposed at this distance. Look for a big run from him.
After being pulled up on his seasonal comeback/first start after a wind operation at Exeter in December, the David Pipe-trained Brinkley has impressed in taking heavy-ground wins at Wincanton (2m5½f) and Exeter (2m7f) since.
The latest of those was a qualifier for this race last month and, while there's danger the 8lb rise for that win is going to hinder him, it's probable he's got further progress in him on what is just his sixth start over hurdles and that was his first run over this distance. He commands a place on any shortlist and his Pond House handler has won this race twice in the past.
2.30 - Ryanair Chase (Grade 1, 2m4½f)
Min held off Saint Calvados to win this contest a year ago and both return with claims again. The former is a seven-time Grade 1 winner who rarely gives anything bar his best and is ideally suited by this trip.
He did, though, deliver a poor run last month in Ireland and needs to put that quickly behind him. Saint Calvados should run his race again but he unseated in his most recent start at Sandown and it was his fencing under pressure 12 months ago that barred him from defeating Min.
Paul Townend sides with last year's winner over stablemates Allaho, Melon and Tornado Flyer in a very strong assault from WP Mullins as he attempts to make it four Ryanair wins in six years.
Melon is a perennial bridesmaid but likely gives another excellent account of himself here (second on all four Cheltenam Festival starts so far) - nobody would begrudge him the win - but perhaps it's Allaho and Rachael Blackmore that might be strongest of the Closutton quartet.
He was just outstayed in the RSA behind Champ over three miles last March and his January Grade 2 win over stablemate Elimay at Thurles was a strong effort.
The betting has this as perhaps the most open Grade 1 race of the week and there are no shortage of players. Fakir D'oudairies, Mister Fisher and Samcro could be key. The last-named has that man Jack Kennedy on board and won the Marsh here a year ago in a humdinger of a finish.
He may not ultimately have lived up to the early hype that came with him, but Samcro is 2-2 at the Cheltenham Festival and right amongst the leading contenders here at what could be a generous each-way price back down in trip having found the Grade 1 Savills Chase beyond him at Christmas. Beware the third coming of Samcro at Cheltenham.
IMPERIAL AURA is just about preferred. A novice winner at this meeting a year ago, Kim Bailey's charge has progressed nicely this term, wining a Listed event at Carlisle on his return and then an Ascot Grade 2 over 2m5f (soft) in November.
His defeat of Galvin here last season was advertised on Tuesday and he can be forgiven an unseat at Kempton in January as there wasn't much in that mishap to be worrying about. He typically goes well fresh and has figures of 221 at Cheltenham previously.
This race was the target for him since the autumn and he appeals strongly as a lightly-raced sort with more to offer for a trainer and jockey in David Bass enjoying a fine season. Capping it with a Festival winner would be fitting.
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3.05 - Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1, 3m)
Last year's shock 50/1 winner Lisnagar Oscar is back to defend his crown but faces a battle again. He's 0-3 this season and while his recent Haydock handicap second to Third Wind was a fair effort on his return from wind surgery, it leaves him with plenty to work on.
Like a few in this field, Cheltenham brings the best out in him and soft ground would be ideal. He's not quite the value now though at as low as 9/1.
Fury Road and Sire Du Berlais form a two-pronged assault here for Denise Foster in what looks her best chance to score in one of the feature races this week. The former was a close third in the Albert Bartlett over C&D last March behind Monkfish no less, but has been beaten in Ireland by Flooring Porter and Beacon Edge in graded races this term.
Noel Meade's Beacon Edge won the Boyne Hurdle over 2m5f in determined fashion last month, getting up late, and is an each-way player now tackling this increased trip for the first time.
He got within three-parts-of-a-length of the Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse (2m4f, soft) in November.
Flooring Porter has hit new heights this season for Gavin Cromwell, seemingly relishing the more aggressive tactics deployed in his wins at Navan and Leopardstown. His rivals couldn't get to him in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle last time and they included The Storyteller (second), Sire De Berlais (third) and Fury Road (fourth).
Sire Du Berlais has won the last two Pertemps Finals at this Festival over this trip and clearly relishing the Cotswolds in spring. He carried a big weight last March and Mark Walsh's mount is a player back here but may not have the class to topple a resurgent PAISLEY PARK.
The 2019 winner had an acceptable excuse for finishing seventh last year, suffering as he was from a fibrillating heart, and he's right back on track this season.
The manner in which he rallied and eventually got up to thwart Thyme Hill in the Grade 1 Long Walk at Ascot in December showed that he retails all his faculties. Victory never appeared likely, until the final 75 yards, whereupon he thrust himself by the runner-up.
They were expected to dominate here again but Philip Hobbs' charge was ruled out last week, that may just pave the way for Emma Lavelle's very popular Paisley Park to regain his mantle as top dog in the Stayers' Hurdle sphere.
There's routinely something at a massive price in the frame in this contest and Reserve Tank, Sam Spinner and If The Cap Fits could fit that billing now, though victory appears unlikely for them.
3.40 - Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3, 2m4½f)
The Plate is perhaps one of the toughest puzzles of the week over fences to solve and a field of 23 having been confirmed, that's unlikely to change soon.
The Shunter won the Greatwood Hurdle here in November for Emmet Mullins and after a near miss over fences at the Dublin Racing Festival when third behind A Wave To The Sea (re-opposes) he won the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso 12 days ago.
There's a big bonus to collect if he adds a Cheltenham Festival win this week and this race was settled on over plenty other targets. Jordan Gainford claims 7lb off his back but he had a hard enough race in Scotland and it's asking plenty to turn up here in top order so soon after.
The aforementioned A Wave To The Sea for Joseph O'Brien and Denise Foster's Farclas are jostling just behind The Shunter in the betting and it wouldn't come as any shock were either of them good enough to prevail.
There's potentially plenty value to be sought further down the pecking order and that's the place to shop in hoping for a jackpot payout in a race of this nature, laced as it is with pitfalls.
Oldgrangewood (fourth in this a year ago), twice Festival-placed Top Notch in new headgear with a useful claimer up, and Kiltealy Briggs are some that could fit that particular bill, but it's to DEAD RIGHT and Eamon An Cnoic that we turn here.
David Pipe loves a go at this race and has three wins since 2010, taking him within one of his father's joint-record tally of four. At the foot of the weights is veteran performer Eamon An Cnoic. He was victorious over hurdles at Sandown just month and is now rated some 7lb lower than when running a cracker in fourth in this race two years ago. He's a fancy-looking price for an each-way interest.
So, too, is Dead Right for Neil Mulholland in the JP McManus hoops. It's no surprise that Mark Walsh is on A Wave To The Sea, he doesn't really have the go-between of Barry Geraghty in terms of switching between Irish and English JP-horses, and so Tom Scudamore is a positive booking given his wealth of Festival and big race-winning experience.
Lightly-raced nine-year-old Dead Right has just five chase starts behind him, a little less experience than ideal maybe, but he produced a winning effort at Market Rasen (2m5½f, good) in September on the back of 306 days off.
He stays further than and any drying ground would be favourable for him today as his best efforts have come on a decent surface when fresh. Conkwell Grange handler Mulholland has his string in fine fettle with six winners from 30 runners recently and, just 5lb higher than for his autumn victory, Dead Right should go well at around 25/1.
4.15 - Parnell Properties Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2, 2m1f)
This has proved a benefit for Willie Mullins since its inception in 2016, the Closutton supremo having won all five renewals to date. There have been well-backed favourites like Limini that delivered in fine style, but also 50/1 shocks like Eglantine Du Seuil that left punters scratching their heads.
This year, Mullins sends a four-strong team in a field of 15 and the market doesn't make any of them an outstanding candidate. Paul Townend sides with Gauloise, who was behind Roseys Hollow and ROYAL KAHALA last time out in a Fairyhouse Grade 3 on testing ground.
She's no doubt capable of improving again and stablemates Glens Of Antrim (Jonjo O'Neill Jr), Hook Up (Danny Mullins) and Pont Aval (Brian Hayes) are very much to be respected given the back-catalogue of domination for the yard in this event.
However, all good things must come to an end and here it may be the Royal Kahala does the business for trainer Peter Fahey and rider Kevin Sexton. She was the 11/10 favourite in that Grade 3 in Ireland last time, but couldn't concede 4lb to Roseys Hollow in the end.
She's now 9lb better off with that rival and that is a fairly dramatic turnaround. It's also very probable that Royal Kahala will do better on this drying ground and she can turn that form around.
It's a very strong hand the Irish party have to play from in this race but maybe that's contributing to the market overlooking Olly Murphy's Allavina.
She has won recent starts at Fontwell and Taunton in good style and has more improvement to come. She ran well (fourth) in a Listed Mares' Bumper around here in November and is another one that should thrive now getting away from properly heavy ground.
Ratings give her about 7lb more to find but she won very easily last time and it's almost certain we haven't seen the best of her yet, so odds in the region of 33/1 are perhaps prematurely dismissive of her chance. Leaving out the Mullins quartet is a dangerous position to adopt but, as the saying goes, he can't win them all.
4.50 - Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (3m2f)
As it so often is, the Cheltenham Festival 'get out stakes' on day three is almost certain to give punters further conundrums with the 24-runner Kim Muir looking as tough as ever.
As with the National Hunt Cup on Tuesday, amateur riders are replaced by the professionals owing to the restrictions of Cheltenham 2021 and Jack Kennedy could be set to complete a rare double in that regard by bagging both races.
MOUNTA IDA was a bumper/hurdles winner earlier in her career and could really flourish up in trip on that evidence.
This season has yielded a Grade 3 win at Cork over 2m½f in December before finishing a well-held second behind the talented mare Colreevy at Thurles in January over 2m4f. As a winning three-mile pointer that stayed 2m6f on her first ever hurdles start, it isn't hard to imagine Mount Ida getting this trip.
The Denise Foster-trained mare has been set a question with a mark of 142 by the British handicapper but it shouldn't be a shock if it proves surmountable and a price around the 10/1 mark looks very fair.
Hold The Note, Deise Aba and last year's fourth in this Plan Of Attack are all viable contenders but there might be some value in Didero Vallis for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch.
He regained the winning thread last month at Catterick and, while this is much tougher, he's rated 1lb lower than when finishing fifth in 2019 Festival Plate over shorter and this sort of trip is very much what he demands nowadays.