CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the Day 3 highlight, the Stayers Hurdle.
Cheltenham 15:30 | Stayers Hurdle | ITV1
This should be fun on Thursday afternoon and while we might be missing a superstar of the ilk of Big Buck’s, the favourite might just become a cracking story in his own right.
It’s a name that conjures up thoughts of 1980’s UK sport for now, but if Unowhatimeanharry obliges here for the second successive Cheltenham Festival and the ninth race in a row overall then he’ll become a story in his right.
Ticks all the boxes
From where I’m sitting, it’s hard to ignore him here, he ticks all the boxes for me. An excellent trainer in Harry Fry, a winnable age at nine, a positive record at Cheltenham and of course a former Festival winner.
Yes, Unowhatimeanharry won the novice version of this race at the Festival last season, the Albert Bartlett, at a big price so we know he suits the track and distance.
Since his win at the Festival last year he’s gone on to run three times and win every one, all of his wins coming in key trials for this race. My only fear is that he’s beating the same old yardsticks in Ballyoptic, Cole Harden et al. Which is why I’ll look further afield too…
Yes, Unowhatimeanharry doesn’t tie in with the Irish form so it’s worth paying respect to that and there’s two runners I like. Shaneshill is a Festival hero who’s finished second on all three occasions he’s run at the mid-March highlight. He clearly comes alive at this course and this time of year.
His form this season is adequate but he did win his prep race in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park in January. The horse he beat that day intrigues me too.
Noel Meade’s Snow Falcon looks a big price and arrives here with respectable form to his name. He won three times before Christmas including the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle and then took a tumble when he faced Unowhatimeanharry at Newbury in November.
From that run he finished third in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown (behind Vroum Vroum Mag) and then was second to Shaneshill in the Galmoy. Crucially though, he was giving that horse 5lbs that day. He looks a big price.