LiveCheltenham Festival live blog: day 3

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Gazette & Herald: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

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Spring Heeled has lived up to his name there, winning the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup and gave Robbie McNamara another Festival winner.


Ballynagour, at 12-1, has won that. Firth Of The Clyde was struggling from a long way out and finished down the field.


Norton trainer Malcolm Jefferson suffered heartbreak when Attaglance was touched off on Tuesday.

Will he get any better luck as Firth Of The Clyde goes next in the Byrne Group Plate?


Well we all might have been surprised by that but winning trainer Jonjo O'Neill wasn't as he reveals here:


My word. More Of That has stunned Annie Power to win the World Hurdle.


My word. More Of That has stunned Annie Power to win the World Hurdle.


My word. More Of That has stunned Annie Power to win the World Hurdle.


They've paraded in front of the stands and are on their way to the start.

Next time we talk, we'll know who is the World Hurdle winner.


The question over Big Buck's chiefly concerns this race, video below, when he lost in the Cleeve Hurdle after he had been off the track for a year following injury.


And now for the big one. What a battle we have in store between Big Buck's and Annie Power.


Zarkandar is parading for the World Hurdle already.

There's a lot of people in here at the moment for the Ryanair presentation, it will be interesting to see how he handles it.


Zarkandar is parading for the World Hurdle already.

There's a lot of people in here at the moment for the Ryanair presentation, it will be interesting to see how he handles it.


Zarkandar is parading for the World Hurdle already.

There's a lot of people in here at the moment for the Ryanair presentation, it will be interesting to see how he handles it.


Zarkandar is parading for the World Hurdle already.

There's a lot of people in here at the moment for the Ryanair presentation, it will be interesting to see how he handles it.


Al Ferof was disappointing, while Benefficient weakened as soon as the going gets tough. If Annie Power wins the World Hurdle, the bookies will take an absolute beating today.


Classy performance from Dynaste (3-1 fav) who has won the Ryanair Chase. He was a neck down at the last but powered up the hill to beat Hidden Cyclone, who has run a big race.



Easterby was naturally delighted after that Pertemps fourth for Trustan Times.

Here's what he had to say about it:


Fingal Bay beats Southfield Theatre by a nose. Trustan Times runs a hugely creditable fourth for Tim Easterby at 33-1.


Photo finish...


Tim Easterby has been talking about Trustan Times, his runner in the upcoming Pertemps Final, and he said: "He's a very good horse. He's got a big cruising speed and he will like the ground.

"We've never had him on good ground, although he will go on any."

Reflecting on Hawk High's Fred Winter victory yesterday, Easterby added: "It was fantastic. The horse is fine and has been eating grass this morning."


McCoy, walking gingerly after suffering a couple of crushing falls yesterday, said of his mount: "He's tough and he's got plenty of experience.

"We had a bit of luck on the way round. Yesterday every horse that fell I seemed to run into the back of it.

"He kept going well and I coaxed him up the hill after the last."


He's had to wait until day 3 but AP McCoy has a winner at the Festival. Taquin Du Seuil wins at 7-1.


Felix Yonger is scooping much of the money for the opener. He's a 7-2 favourite.



Gazette & Herald:

I think it will be a mystery who is leading the field at the top of the back straight.

As you can see, the fog is still dense in places with 15 minutes to go until the JLT Novices' Chase kicks off this afternoon's festivities.


Today's non runners:

2.05pm 16 Lie Forrit
2.40pm 4 Cantlow
3.20pm 4 Mala Beach, 12 Quevega
4pm 9 Carrickboy
4.40pm 12 Dursey Sound


Asked about his best chance, Nicholls says that if Al Ferof runs back to his best, on his favourite track, he would be it.

He adds that he just wants to make sure Big Buck's comes back safe and sound.


Nicholls on Al Ferof in the Ryanair: "If he runs up to his best, he will have a very, very good chance."

Kauto Stone: "He's got it all to do. He seems to perform better on a Flat track."

"I think Benefficent has been trained for this race and he is the one we all have to beat."


On Wonderful Charm in the JLT: "We've purposely kept him fresh over the winter. It's a competitive race that will be hard to win but he jumps very nicely.

"He has got a chance. It will be a tough, close race."


Nicholls says Zarkandar, one of his other runners, deserves to be in the race and will like the ground. Salubrious will need a career best but he concedes that Annie Power looks the best horse in the race.


Paul Nicholls is talking in the parade ring. He says Big Buck's looks great and has had good preparation.

He says he appears to be as well as ever. He believes there will be improvement from his previous run in the Cleeve, when he was a close-up third.

He says the World Hurdle is a tougher race, but he will like the better ground. The only point for him is whether, at 11, he is as good as he was.


An hour to the start of the first race and, from my vantage point in the media centre, I still can't see the track because of the fog.

Let's hope it starts lifting soon.


If you've not picked your winners yet, let The Press tipster Tom O'Ryan mark your card by clicking the link below:


MALCOLM Jefferson was irritated, to say the least, when Attaglance was narrowly pipped in the Rewards4Novices Chase on the opening day of the meeting - believing his runner had been obstructed by Present View.

The Norton trainer returns to Prestbury Park with Firth Of The Clyde in the Byrne Group Plate (4.00pm).

In an open handicap with Sraid Padraig the 13-2 favourite at the time of writing, Jefferson's nine-year-old is reasonably favoured in the betting markets at 12-1.

You are usually looking for an unexposed type in these big field races and Firth Of The Clyde definitely fits that bill.

A winner at Wetherby in November, he beat Flaming George by three and a half lengths at Market Rasen on his next start.

Hunting the hat-trick, he was a half a length third behind Suprise Vendor at Kelso a month ago in a race that saw the runner up Croco Bay go on to win a novice chase at Doncaster by ten lengths a couple of weeks later.

He had beaten Firth Of The Clyde by only a short-head.

Jefferson will be sending his gelding over two and a half miles for the first time and, given he has run over fences on just four occasions, we might not have seen the best of him yet.


So let's take a look at how the North Yorkshire runners match up this afternoon.

Easterby, as noted, runs Trustan Times in the Pertemps and the eight-year-old, for a while, also held an entry in the World Hurdle before opting for the handicap instead.

I first saw this horse more than three years ago, when he hacked up in a novice hurdle at Wetherby and he looked very promising.

He's been successful in higher company than this before as well, winning a Grade 3 at Haydock in November 2012, but that was his last win.

Trustan Times has alternated between hurdles and fences since, his last run a six length third to Benvolio in a chase at Haydock.

If he can recapture some of the form leading up to that Grade race Haydock success - when he wasn't out of the first three in four races - he would be fairly well treated.

But he has won three of his five races on soft ground and it remains to be seen whether the firmer Cheltenham surface, despite the watering, will suit.

You can't argue with his trainer though, who said yesterday that he only brings horses to the Festival if he feels they have a chance of winning. He's not just here to make up the numbers.


Seems I am not the only one discounting Easterby's runner. Will he want the ground to be a bit softer though?





Gazette & Herald:

Tim Easterby, of course, had a cracking day on Wednesday when Hawk High, on the left in this picture, won the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle.

He's going for a double with Trustan Times in the Pertemps Networks Final at 2.05pm and it's dangerous to rule him out at 33-1.

If you're into coincidences, that's the exact price Hawk High was before he powered home for Easterby's first Festival win in 15 years.

And if you missed the Great Habton trainer talking about that brilliant win, you can listen in below:


Great news for Norton trainer Tony Coyle.

His Lucky Landing has squeaked in and made the cut for the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase tomorrow - the last race of the Cheltenham Festival.

He's a 20-1 shot at the moment and Dougie Costello, who was on Son Of Flicka in the Coral Cup yesterday, will be on board.


We'll get into the World Hurdle in more detail a little later but those clever chappies from At The Races have done a lot of the hard work for us. Click on the vid below to see what they have to say.


Good morning once again from Cheltenham where the course is covered by a thick pea-souper.

It's going to take something to beat yesterday's superb action, where Hawk High brought Tim Easterby and North Yorkshire Festival glory in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle and Sire De Grugy silenced all his doubters to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Thankfully, we could have a race for the ages this afternoon as the mighty Big Buck's goes up against the unbeaten mare Annie Power in the World Hurdle.

Thanks to everyone who has looked in so far, and stay with me this afternoon as I take you through all the action from Prestbury Park.

Remember you can get involved as well. Use the comments facility below to send in your views, your best bets, and anything else that takes your fancy.

Or contact me on twitter too at @scarrollpress. Use the hashtags #cheltenham or #cheltfest


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