14:50 – Ryanair Chase
A small but select field for the 2020 renewal of the Ryanair Chase which sees last year’s lionhearted combination of Frodon and Bryony Frost return to defend their crown. The pair brought the house down after a pillar to post performance last year and Frodon arrives back at Cheltenham with a live chance of repeating his success. Having been below par in his two first starts at Aintree and Haydock, Frodon produced a round of jumping he has become famous for at Kempton when beating a small but select field at Kempton. His competition this year looks much tougher this year however, and he will have to produce the performance of his life to win.
Min has been the perennial bridesmaid of the Cheltenham Festival over the course of the last few years, mainly due to the mighty Altior. He finished 2nd in the 2016 Supreme Novices’ hurdle before finishing 2nd in the 2018 Champion Chase and both times, for the briefest of moments, he looked the likely winner. On his day, as he proved at Aintree last Spring, he is one of the best chasers around and he will be grateful not to be lining up against Altior. Although he has form over two and a half miles, there are still question marks whether he is at his best over this trip and this will likely be a strongly run contest and he could struggle, once again, to get up the famous Cheltenham hill.
Riders Onthe Storm has done nothing but improve in three runs with Nigel Twiston-Davies this season. A powerful galloper who loves soft ground, he claimed his first Grade 1 at Ascot just over three weeks ago and comes into this contest unbeaten for the yard. He had a very hard race that day and as has been proven by Sporting John and Copperhead so far this week, having a hard run on soft ground in the lead up to Cheltenham against horses who are coming into the race fresh is a real disadvantage.
A PLUS TARD put in one of the most impressive performances all week at last year’s Cheltenham Festival when sprinting clear by 16 lengths under Rachael Blackmore in the opening day Close Brothers Handicap. He took one run this season to come to the boil but when he did, he was mightily impressive when beating Chacun Pour Soi and Ordinary World at Leopardstown. He looks to be pretty bombproof here for the in-form connections of Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore and he looks banker material on St Patrick’s Thursday at Cheltenham.
2pts win on A Plus Tard at
15:30 Stayers’ Hurdle
Paisley Park is many people’s idea of banker material this week and he has been duly backed like defeat is out of the question. He has brilliant form on soft ground and his winning sequence now extends back two years. I am not going to advise backing against him but due to his skinny odds, there is a good chance to find some value in the without favourite market.
PENHILL is unbeaten over three miles at the Cheltenham Festival including in this race two years ago and seems to come alive at Prestbury Park. He is an incredibly talented animal who has struggled to keep sound. He has only been seen five times since winning this race two years ago which proves his fragility. Paul Townend gets on extremely well with the horse and will likely hold him up off the pace to try and pick up the pieces late on. At
5/1 without Paisley Park, Penhill represents great value in what looks a fairly open renewal.
1pt win Penhill at
5/1 without Paisley Park
All odds correct at time of publication.