Day three of Cheltenham saw stand out performances from both man and beast.
Paisley Park justified favouritism and in doing so rewarded Aidan Coleman with the biggest success of his career.
Bryony Frost made history by winning the Ryanair Chase aboard Frodon for Paul Nicholls. Frost became the first ever female jockey to win a Grade 1 over obstacles at the festival.
Barry Geraghty, yet again, displayed his endless talent with two excellent rides. Defi Du Seuil was ridden patiently and cajoled along to gather up Lostintranslation over the last furlong of the JLT.
The best ride of the day and likely the festival was Geraghty’s exhausting display aboard Sire Du Berlais. The Gordon Elliot trained favourite seemed to be beaten from three out but Geraghty never gave up and lifted his mount past the fast finishing Tobefair,
Today’s racing features the Triumph hurdle which will revolve around the flat bred Sir Erec who is rightfully fancied to land the spoils.
What promises to be the greatest Gold Cup in the last five years will determine if Presenting Percy is the real deal, if Native River can retain his crown or if Willie Mullins can land a first-ever Cheltenham Gold Cup. We will have to wait and see!
JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m179y
The Triumph hurdle has recently been won by Defi Du Seuil, the mighty Tiger Roll and Katchit. All of these went onto bigger and better things at the festival which means the Triumph is a true pointer to future success.
This year’s field is dominated by one horse, Sir Erec. It is unusual to see a colt jumping hurdles in public and even more unusual for one to head the betting at the Cheltenham festival but this son of Camelot is special.
His previous run at Leopardstown reinforced his reputation of a star in the making. His demolition of today’s main competitors is by far the best form in this field and he is taken to justify favouritism quite easily.
Ruby will ride Tiger Tap Tap who underperformed on his last outing behind Sir Erec and is taken to fill the runner up spot behind the Joseph O’ Brien star.
Selection: Sir Erec 10/11
Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) 3m 2f 70y
The Gold Cup is the ultimate test of jumping, stamina and speed in National Hunt. This year’s interation has strength in depth with a huge number of Grade One victors in the field.
Pat Kelly has taken a more than unconventional route to the race with favourite Presenting Percy but his charge should not be underestimated. Davy Russell’s mount has proven his love for the track with two previous festival successes and he appears to have a blend of both stamina and speed. His jumping in last years RSA was almost step perfect. He was most certainly not stopping when approaching the line.
Paul Nicholls is represented by the progressive Clan des Obeaux who landed the King George in a striking manner which was reminiscent of the great Kauto Star. If he can stay the trip, he will be a danger to all.
Colin Tizzard’s horses have been running quite poorly as of late but this may not affect the performance of his two hopes. Thistlecrack has been blighted with injuries but his run in the King George proved that he still retains most of his previous vigour. His stablemate Native River will be partnered by the champion jockey Richard Johnson. Native River is the dourest stayer in the field and will guarantee a strong pace that all others will have to match.
This is one of the races which Willie Mullins is yet to capture. Therefore, he has decided to go to post with four of his best. Ruby has chosen to ride Bellshill and the narrative from the stable is that he is finally turning into the horse they thought he would be. This was not an easy decision for Walsh as Al Boum Photo put in a dazzling display last time out.
The outlier and most underrated horse in the field is also saddled by Mullins. Kemboy is an improving sort who already ticks several boxes which are required for Gold Cup Glory. Previously entered in the Hennessey in Newbury, Kemboy bypassed this assignment and won the Savills Chase at Leopardstown. David Mullins will ride Kemboy and will let him bowl along in the first quarter and kick on from two out. His price of 11/1 appears to be excellent value and he is a horse going places.
Selection: Kemboy 11/1 NAP
1.30 Sir Erec 10/11
2.10 Éclair De Beaufeu 12/1 EW
2.50 Allaho 8/1
3.30 Kemboy 11/1 NAP
4.10 Caid Du Berlais 7/1 EW
4.50 Mind’s Eye 12/1
5.30 Early Doors 6/1
Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile