Day Three of the Cheltenham Festival this year is all about the World Hurdle and whether or not the great Big Bucks can set a new record of four straight wins in the race and complete a 2012 big hurdle double for trainer Paul Nicholls. There is of course a terrific supporting cast, with the Ryanair Chase looking set to be one of the best races of the Festival, with all those heading the market in with great chances. The day gets underway with the Grade 2 Jewsons Novice Chase featuring Peddlers Cross.
1.30 Jewsons Novice Chase
Peddlers Cross is almost certain to go off as favourite to return to winning ways for the in form Donald McCain stable, already with the Supreme Novice Hurdle and Coral Cup in the bag this week. Willie Mullins entry Sir Des Champs is highly regarded and could prove to be his biggest threat.
2.05 Pertemps Final (Handicap Hurdle)
Usually a very serious competitive handicap with a 24 runner field that has proved a nightmare down the years for ‘favourite backers’. That burden will be carried in the race by the David Pipe trained, Our Father, described earlier in the week as one of the stable’s best chances to win this week. Most interest however will be focussed on Pipe’s other entry, Buena Vista who is looking to win the race for the stable for a third successive year.
2.40 Ryanair Chase
Albertas Run has won this race for the last two years for trainer Jonjo O’Neill and jockey, Tony McCoy. However the 10 year old has not been seen since he sustained an injury after he won the Old Roan Chase on his seasonal reappearance last October. Riverside Theatre and Noble Prince are likely to dispute favouritism although the highly fancied Somersby could well get involved in the dispute. Others who have been backed include Medermit and Rubi Light.
3.20 World Hurdle
The Day Three feature will see Big Bucks looking to win a fourth Stayers title and as it stands there does not seem to be much in the way of competition to stop him. However favourites are there to be shot down and with the defeats so far at the Festival of Hurricane fly, Grands Crus and Sizing Europe nothing should be taken for granted. Those in with outside chances include Nicky Henderson’s Oscar Whisky and after his incredible Day Two who could possibly argue that he will not take down the hottest favourite of them all in this.
4.00 Byrne Group Plate
One of the most competitive Handicap’s of the Festival which has not been won by a favourite in the last ten years. Those in contention and being backed include David Pipe’s Salut Flo, the Paul Nicholls newcomer, Crack Away Jack and Divers, a winner at the Festival last year from the Ferdy Murphy stable.
4.40 Fulke Walwyn/Kim Muir Challenge Cup
This race was won in breathtaking style last year by the David Pipe trained Junior, who had gone off as the 100/30 favourite. This year the favourite is likely to be Sunnyhillboy from the Jonjo O’Neill yard but an eye should be kept on Faasel. He too is from the Pipe stable and finished second a year ago and is now being well supported to go one better this year. Others in with big chances would be Up The Beat, Midnight Appeal and Mostly Bob. This is the final race of the day.