The ground was quite testing at the start of the week, but the spring weather has given conditions more of a traditional Cheltenham feel.
Paisley Park suffered a heart problem when bidding for back-to-back victories in the Stayers’ Hurdle 12 months ago but has bounced back this season, overcoming Thyme Hill in one of the most memorable races of the season at Ascot in December, and is coming here fresh.
The defection of Thyme Hill has rendered this much easier for Paisley Park, whose owner Andrew Gemmell has been blind since birth.
Lisnagar Oscar returns to the site of his 50-1 win in the third-day feature last year. There was no real fluke about that and Rebecca Curtis gave this horse a wind operation after he flopped behind Thyme Hill at Newbury. He is likely coming to hand.
It is arguable that the superstar of day three is not running in the pivot race but in the opening Marsh Novices’ Chase (1.20). There have been perhaps too many odds-on favourites this week for the taste of the purists, who want ultra-competitive action, but Envoi Allen, yet to taste defeat, looks a world-beater.
Honeysuckle’s trainer Henry de Bromhead now trains Envoi Allen after Cheveley Park moved their horses from Gordon Elliott. However, Envoi Allen’s groom has joined him in County Waterford to render the switch as seamless as possible.
The 10-1 about Samcro, another horse unbeaten at Cheltenham and who used to be trained by Elliott, is appealing in the Ryanair Chase (2.30). This race is deeply competitive and excuses have to be made for Samcro’s defeats this season but the stable seemed out of form last time and he tends to come alive in the Cotswolds.
Another Cheveley Park steed, Allaho, has a tongue tie for the first time. Run out of it in the RSA Chase last year, he has a massive chance under jockey Blackmore, with Paul Townend staying loyal to Min.
Jeremy Scott’s Dashel Drasher would be a popular winner here. He has progressed to a mark of 162 after winning his last three races and he showed a terrific attitude to win the Betfair Ascot Chase under Matt Griffiths in February.
It looks like being another good day for the Irish, with Farclas rock-solid each way in the Paddy Power Plate (3.40). Nicky Henderson’s Top Notch is interesting at a price after a wind operation but Farclas is preferred.
Mighty Blue appeals at 16-1 in the Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (4.15). Willie Mullins has won this race every year since it was born but he may be up against it this year, with the Joseph O’Brien-trained daughter of Authorized looking sure to appreciate a strong pace.
In the Kim Muir (4.50), De Bromhead could land another Festival winner this week with Plan Of Attack (blinkered for the first time), who is surely becoming dangerously handicapped. He is 8-1 with Paddy Power, who are paying five places.
Cheltenham Festival day three tips
Looks a monster and an absolute star.
1.55 – The Bosses Oscar, 11-2
Can benefit from his rider’s claim.
Has the class if things fall into place.
Dropping back in trip can help this course winner.
Can really benefit from a strong pace.
4.50 – Plan Of Attack, 8-1
Might respond well to the blinkers.