Cheltenham Festival 2023: Shishkin, Gold Tweet to take honors on Day 3

March 15th, 2023

* The wins kept coming if you followed TwinSpires' Cheltenham betting tips on Day 2. Following on from selecting four trifectas and a 16-1 winner on Day 1, TwinSpires on Day 2 gave you two winners and successfully picked a $913 trifecta from a $16 ticket in the Brown Advisory Novice Chase.

Day three at the Cheltenham Festival is the day that gives some specialist horses that are celebrated less than some of their peers a chance to shine.

Hurdlers that need three miles to excel don’t get the same kudos as two-mile hurdlers, but on Thursday they take center stage with the Stayers’ Hurdle (G1) — a race that has produced popular festival heroes like Big Buck’s, Inglis Drever, and Baracouda.

Likewise, the intermediate-distance steeplechasers that are best at 2 1/2 miles get some of the attention usually reserved for two- and three-mile chasers on Thursday in both the Turners’ Chase (G1) for novices and the Ryanair Chase (G1) for open-class chasers.

Below is a look at all seven races on the Day 3 card.

Race 1, 9:30 a.m. ET: Turners Novices’ Chase (G1), 2 1/2 miles, novice steeplechasers

Turners Novices’ Chase Selections

  • #6 Mighty Potter
  • #8 Stage Star
  • #2 Balco Coastal

Turners Novices’ Chase Wagers

  • $20 win: #6 Mighty Potter
  • $1 trifecta: 6, 8 with 3, 6, 8 with 1, 2, 3, 6, 8

In the past 12 months, #6 Mighty Potter has gone from a good novice hurdler to an outstanding novice steeplechaser. In three starts, he’s hardly been troubled; he’s easily won the Drinmore (G1) at Fairyhouse and the Novice Chase (G1) at Leopardstown at his last two starts, and the form was franked when Gaillard Du Mesnil, placed in both those races, won at Cheltenham on Day 1.

Few Irish horses have been game enough to take him on, and the two major market players from Ireland that are lining up, #1 Appreciate It and #3 Banbridge, were running over two miles rather than 2 1/2 miles at their last starts. On exposed form, they are running for minor placings, though Banbridge has won twice on this track.

The best chance to beat Mighty Potter may be the English runner #8 Stage Star. His only defeat over big fences was on ground that was probably too fast for him, and he put up a great effort to win from the top of the handicap at Cheltenham Jan. 28. England also has another good chance in the form of #2 Balco Coastal, who ran well against Gerri Colombe last start.

As good as Stage Star was at Cheltenham, I can’t really go past Mighty Potter, but I’ll focus on both for exotics.

Race 2, 10:10 a.m. ET: Pertemps Hurdle Final (G3), 3 miles, open hurdlers

Pertemps Hurdle Final Selections

  • #18 Thanksforthehelp
  • #3 Maxxum
  • #10 An Tailliur

Pertemps Hurdle Final Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 show: #18 Thanksforthehelp
  • $1 trifecta: 3, 18 with 3, 10, 18 with 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 12, 18

With 24 runners under handicap conditions, this is one of the toughest races to pick at the festival. The trainer to watch here may be three-time winner Gordon Elliott, who has four strong contenders: #1 Salvador Ziggy, #2 The Bosses Oscar, #3 Maxxum, and #19 Level Neverending. Leading stable rider Davy Russell is riding Maxxum, who may be the leading one to watch.

Perhaps the one to beat them is #18 Thanksforthehelp. He was never out of second gear when winning a handicap hurdle at Chepstow Feb. 25, and looked a type who could be a lot better. Provided he handles Cheltenham’s undulations, he looks a very good chance.

#10 An Tailliur and #12 Walking On Air are others that look to be in with a show, and for a roughie I’m going to include #8 Coltor, a nice second at Musselburgh Feb. 5.

Race 3, 10:50 a.m. ET: Ryanair Chase (G1), 2 5/8 miles, open steeplechasers

Ryanair Chase Selections

  • #9 Shishkin
  • #8 Janidil
  • #1 Blue Lord

Ryanair Chase Wagers

  • $20 win: #9 Shishkin
  • $3 trifecta: 9 with 1, 3, 8 with 1, 3, 8
  • $1 trifecta: 9 with 1, 3, 8 with 2, 4, 5, 6, 7

The story about this race has focused on two horses. One, the two-time winner Allaho, would have been heavily favored if he’d been here again, but injury kept him out. The other, #9 Shishkin, was a champion two-miler, but questions were being asked if he was past his best after two defeats.

As it turned out, what he needed was more distance. Stepped up to 2 1/2 miles in the Ascot Chase (G1) Feb. 18, he dominated a good field. With Allaho gone, the race would appear to be at his mercy.

There’s a few good horses against him, including #1 Blue Lord, #3 Envoi Allen, #5 Fury Road, and #8 Janidil. But if Shishkin brings his Ascot form here, the others are most likely running for lower exotic rungs.

Race 4, 11:30 a.m. ET: Stayers’ Hurdle (G1), 3 miles, open hurdlers

Stayers’ Hurdle Selections

  • #5 Gold Tweet
  • #11 Teahupoo
  • #2 Blazing Khal

Stayers’ Hurdle Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 place: #5 Gold Tweet
  • $1 trifecta: 5, 11 with 2, 5, 11 with 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11

French horses don’t usually turn up at Cheltenham, but when they do, they are usually well worth following. They have had success in this race with the dual winner Baracouda, and they have another good prospect in #5 Gold Tweet. He won the Cleeve (G2) very well here Jan. 28 and has a devastating turn of foot.

Ireland will again be well represented. Dual winner #4 Flooring Porter takes his place again and will love the venue, but the best Irish chance may be #11 Teahupoo. Moved up in distance this season, he ended Honeysuckle’s unbeaten run in the Hatton’s Grace (G1) Dec. 4 and then was even more decisive in the Galmoy (G2) Jan. 26.

#2 Blazing Khal is unbeaten over hurdles and impressed when winning the Boyne (G2), his first start in 428 days, at Navan Feb. 12. Other chances include #7 Home By The Lee and #9 Paisley Park, but I’m sticking with Gold Tweet.

Race 5, 12:10 p.m. ET: Magners Plate Handicap Chase (G3), 2 5/8 miles, open steeplechasers

Magners Plate Handicap Chase Selections

  • #12 So Scottish
  • #8 Datsalrightgino
  • #4 Midnight River

Magners Plate Handicap Chase Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #12 So Scottish
  • $1 trifecta: 8, 12 with 4, 8, 12 with 1, 4, 7, 8, 12

Another 24-runner handicap with plenty of chances. However, #12 So Scottish seems to have had the perfect preparation. Trainer Emmet Mullins has only run him three times over big fences, for two victories in October and a second at Ascot in November. He’s been waiting for this race and thus gets in with 154 pounds, a nice weight against some good horses.

#8 Datsalrightgino ran very well for second behind Turners Novices’ Chase prospect Stage Star at Cheltenham Jan. 28, and a repeat would take him close. Others well worth watching are #1 Haut En Couleurs, #4 Midnight River, and #7 Il Ridoto.

Race 6, 12:50 p.m. ET: Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (G2), 2 1/8 miles, novice hurdlers, fillies and mares

Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Selections

  • #1 Luccia
  • #3 You Wear It Well
  • #12 Lot Of Joy

Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #1 Luccia
  • $2 trifecta: 1 with 3, 9, 12, 16 with 3, 9, 12, 16

The most fascinating runner here is #16 Princess Zoe, a former high-class mare on the flat who was good enough to win the Prix du Cadran (G1). She has been sent hurdling this year and at her sole start, she dead-heated for first in Ireland. Her jumping left a little bit to be desired, however, and she’ll need to be sharper over the hurdles to win here.

Instead, most eyes are on #1 Luccia. She’s run twice over hurdles for trainer Nicky Henderson and been virtually unstoppable in both, winning easily. She appears to have an X-factor about her and looks very hard to beat.

#3 You Wear It Well has been in great form as well; her only defeat in four runs was behind the top Ballymore Hurdle prospect Hermes Allen. A repeat of that form puts her right in this.

The Irish will naturally be well-represented, with their best runners looking to be #9 Halka Du Tabert and #12 Lot Of Joy, but I’m picking Luccia to keep her unbeaten record intact.

Race 7, 1:30 p.m. ET: Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase (Listed), 3 1/4 miles, 0-145 steeplechasers, amateur jockeys

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase Selections

  • #3 Beauport
  • #15 Stumptown
  • #1 Mr Incredible

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 show: #3 Beauport

This amateur rider race is always difficult to work out. However, I’m a fan of #3 Beauport. Good enough to place at Grade 3 level over hurdles last season, he’s taken well to big fences for all but his last start at Cheltenham. But he ran into some very good prospects there, notably The Real Whacker, and this is weaker.

The likely favorite is #15 Stumptown, a winner of his last two. He’s looked like a good prospect for trainer Gavin Cromwell and may be sufficiently unexposed to be at the right position in the weights.

Also well worth a thought is #1 Mr Incredible, from the Willie Mullins stable. He’s in good form and has the very capable Patrick Mullins in the saddle.