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Jockey Noel Fehily is having a Cheltenham Festival to savour, having already claimed the Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase, and he can add the feature race on day number three, the Stayers’ Hurdle, His mount, Unowhatimeanharry (5/4), has won all the key trials in his build-up, and crucially, is four from four at the track.
Main opposition could come in the shape of previous winner Cole Harden (8/1), who ran second to the selection in the Cleeve Hurdle on new year’s day. That was an excellent comeback run, after a long absence, and he won this race under similar ground conditions two years ago. Whether he can fend off the vastly improved Harry Fry trained nine-year old, though, is an entirely different matter. The favourite won at the Festival twelve months ago when landing the Albert Bartlett, and arrives here in tip-top form.
Older horses go well in the Stayers, and Unowhatimeanharry ticks every box, and should make it nine wins out of nine since moving to his new stable.
York to stay on up the Hill
The Irish have pretty much owned the JLT Chase since its inception, having won five out of six runnings, and I see no logical reason to oppose the hot favourite Yorkhill (11/8) to add to that tally. He is a cut above his rivals in this race, and whilst his jumping has been not perfect to date, the trip and drying ground should hold no fears for backers.
A STAR could be born…
The Pertemps Hurdle over three miles is always an extremely competitive contest, but the Neil Mulholland trained Impulsive Star (10/1) looks a really likeable contender. Having qualified for this off the back of an impressive Exeter win on handicap debut, his 10lb rise in the weights, makes him of big appeal here.
He had the progressive Rocklander (16/1) behind him, who also lines up in this race, but I don’t foresee that form being reversed. Impulsive Star likes to be ridden prominently, but I think that’s important given the drying ground. It has paid to be ridden handy this week, and given his scope, I can see him running a big race in the Pertemps.
Get the CHAMPAGNE at the ready!
Later on the card, Champagne At Tara (33/1), could give owner JP McManus yet another big handicap success, in the Brown Advisory Stable Plate at 4:10. This eight-year-old only won a three runner race at Leicester last time, but with improvement expected at the longer trip, he looks nicely treated to go close at a very juicy price. It’s a race where shocks are quite prevalent, with the winner of the last four renewals all returning at double figure odds.
And then in the finale on day number three, the same silks can be worn to success, by big market mover Squouateur (6/1), in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase. This is a contest for Amateur riders only, and in Jamie Codd, the selection has the best jockey. Codd rode two Cheltenham Festival winners yesterday, and he’s won the Kim Muir on no fewer than four occasions. Squouateur has not won a races over fences yet, but don’t let that put you off as he has bags of scope, and can only improve now that he’s stepped up in trip.