Answering the question whether the favourites will win the Grade 1 races on day three of the Festival is as simple as it is difficult.
JLT Novices’ Chase – Invitation Only. Current best odds 4/1. With the withdrawal of last year’s Neptune winner, Willoughby Court, this is the difficult one as the market has been thrown into confusion. You’d struggle to put a cigarette paper between Invitation Only and Monalee on the prices, although the RSA has always been the presumed destination of Monalee, who is still trading in that race at 3/1. You fancy he could do well in either, but it looks an open race and whoever starts off favourite, has to be worth opposing.
Ryanair Chase – Un De Sceaux. Current best odds 2/1. Now for the easy bit. I can see why money has come in for the unbeaten Waiting Patiently, although he is untested on a track that compares to Cheltenham and I’m not convinced has won against illustrious company. Last year’s winner Un De Sceaux is lightly raced this season, but has undoubted class and not only is he familiar with Cheltenham, but knows how to win there. For those reasons I’m backing him.
Stayers’ Hurdle – Supasundae. Current best odds 4/1. It’s nip and tuck in the market between Supasundae and Sam Spinner, who you can back at 5/1. This doesn’t look like a strong renewal. After last year’s race showed Unowhatimeanharry was beatable, no one has come to claim his crown. The highlight of the season was undoubtedly Beer Goggles’ win in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in December. He proved if nothing else this is a division capable of surprises and with no outstanding contender, don’t rule out a shock in the feature race on the Thursday. There may be plenty of movement in the market before then, but whoever goes to the post as favourite, I can’t see that they will have my backing.