Cheltenham Festival day three tips: Itchy Feet, Relegate, Third Wind, Ard Abhainn

2m4f (2m3f168y) (New) Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller) (Class 1) (5yo+)

The market doesn’t know who should be favourite for the Marsh Novices Chase with four essentially within a point of each other at the top of the market. Faugheen would be the story of the week, what with Altior being pulled out, and Tiger Roll getting turned over. My heart says “yes” that he can win, but no 12-year-old has won a Grade 1 at Cheltenham and he did have a difficult race last time out when just defeating Easy Game at Leopardstown. Samcro has never quite lived up to the hype, but it wouldn’t be the biggest shock to see him put in altogether and bounce back from a wind op. The British challenge is spearheaded by Mister Fisher and ITCHY FEET, with the latter marginally preferred for Olly Murphy. Itchy Feet has looked a revelation over fences and the step up in trip to 2m 4f has also really suited him. He comes into this off the back of a dominant performance in the Scilly Isles Grade 1 at Sandown, where several of his rivals failed to run up to their best. Nonetheless, he did that in taking fashion, and his 3rd in the Supreme Novice hurdle last season demonstrates that he goes well around this track. Itchy Feet is versatile regarding the ground and it feels like he has the fewest number of doubts going into this Grade 1. Paul

1pt win Itchy Feet @11/2, 13:30 Cheltenham, Thursday

3m (2m7f213y) (New) Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)

Sire Du Berlais attempts back-to-back victories in the Pertemps and previous runners have a horrendous record, not to mention the fact that he carries top-weight. One that looks very interesting is the Hughie Morrison trained THIRD WIND, who has been progressing nicely with each and every start. Third Wind ticks a lot of boxes having had his one handicap hurdle win this season and less than five hurdles starts overall, winning 4/5. Former chasers also have a good record in this race and Third Wind had a failed start to life over the larger obstacles at the start of this season. That was after he claimed a Grade 3 to finish off his novice hurdling campaign beating One For Rosie by a nose at Sandown over 2m 5f, a horse that subsequently ran third in the Aintree Novice Grade 1 hurdle in April. Delta Work finished third in a Punchestown trial before going on to win this in 2018 and RELEGATE finished fourth in the same trial on her only start this season for a new yard. The former Champion Bumper winner ran a blinder, staying on from the back on her first start for almost a year and remains unexposed with only 8 career performances under rules. Relegate’s hurdles form included some impressive performances for Willie Mullins including a close fifth in a Grade 1 on her last start. She’s a short enough price for a handicap like this. But single-figure priced runners have done well in recent years and she looks set to mount a bold bid given her class and love for the course. Paul

1pt each-way Relegate @15/2, 14:10 Cheltenham, Thursday (1-6 places, 1/5 odds)
1pt each-way Third Wind @12/1, 14:10 Cheltenham, Thursday (1-6 places, 1/5 odds)

2m1f  (2m179y) (New) Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Dawn Run)  (Class 1) (4yo+)

The shortest SP from the first seven home in this last year was 25/1, so anything can happen. The favourite Minella Melody looks pretty good but carries a penalty and will need to improve to win, while Concertista, 2nd in this last year on her British debut, seemingly has everything in her favour as she returned to form last time out, escapes a penalty and likes the course. She’s not been missed by the market, though, and I think that if she doesn’t there is a very high chance the winner will run to better than her mark of 141. I think that horse could be ARD ABHAINN for Gordon Elliot and Davy Russell – and you can get a much bigger price at 16/1. That seems too big to me, despite her carrying a penalty, because she was only a couple of lengths behind Minella Melody earlier in the season off level weights. She looks a stayer so should enjoy the New Course, and has a big chance of hitting the frame. Joel

1pt each-way Ard Abhainn @16/1, 16:50 Cheltenham, Thursday (1-4, 1/5 Betvictor)

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