DAY 3 gets underway with this Grade 1 novice contest. Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) gives us his best bet.
13:30 Cheltenham | Channel 4
This is now a Grade 1 race and it’s fast turning in to a popular event. It’s over an intermediate distance for novices who find the Arkle too sharp and the RSA too far and has resulted in fascinating race with many runners holding chances here.
Bristol De Mai has been one of the top novice chasers this season and comes here as a Grade 1 winning hurdler and chaser. His jumping has been electrifying and he looks better with every start.
On softer ground and a more conventional track I would back him, but he loves a heavy surface and in this bigger field his jumping will be put under more pressure, so I reluctantly oppose him.
Black Hercules from the Mullins yard should be unbeaten over fences but he fell at the last when looking the likely winner at Navan and failed to complete his hatrick.
However I’m not overly impressed by him and his flop in the Albert Bartlet at this meeting last season is still fresh in my mind. He’s came up short in a few attempts at the top level and I expect him to struggle here.
His stablemate Outlander interests me more as he only seems to do enough and we probably haven’t seen the best of him yet. His jumping is solid however he’s another who may prefer a bit more juice in the ground.
I really like one in this race and it’s Garde La Victore from the Phillip Hobbs yard. Unbeaten over fences he fell just short of the top over hurdles and has transferred his considerable talent to chasing.
He beat Bristol De Mai earlier in the season, and though his main rival has improved over the season I think the selection still holds sway. He wasn’t impressive in his 2 wins since but the step up in trip and the better ground will see him in a better light here. I feel connections made the correct decision sending him here instead of the Arkle.
13:30 Cheltenham – Garde La Victoire to win (4/1 Ladbrokes)
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