Good morning and welcome to our rolling coverage of day three of the Cheltenham Festival where the early rain has eased and the going, like yesterday, is good to soft, soft in places. We have seven races on the card today, the twin highlights of which are the Ryanair Chase at 2.50 and the Stayers Hurdle at 3.30. Last year’s Arkle winner, Footpad, goes in the former as does Monalee, the favourite, who was runner-up in last year’s RSA.
Monalee was well beaten over three miles by the favourite Kemboy at Leopardstown last Christmas but looked much better with Rachael Balckmore up (as she is today) over 2m 4f at Gowran Park last month. The Ryanair, over 2m 5f should be ideal.
Paisley Park is the overwhelming favourite in all senses in the Stayer’s Hurdle, the race once known as the World Hurdle, as short as 15/8 this morning. The horse is owned by Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth and is deservedly popular with the the racing public despite a background as far from the English horse set as one could imagine. Paisley Park has won all four races this season but Faugheen, “the machine” is a formidable opponent who won the Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival in 2014 and the Champion Hurdle four years ago. A victory for the veteran would probably be the only solace for broken hearts if Paisley Park is thwarted.