The gold and green colours of JP McManus are synonymous with the Cheltenham Festival and I fancy the leading owner to have a bumper time on Thursday.
I would not be surprised if he had four winners because Defi Du Seuil, Sire Du Berlais, Epatante and Any Second Now all looked primed to run massive races in their respective races.
Of the quarter, I’ll let Epatante slide because she’s no bigger than 15-8 for the National Hunt Breeders supported by Tattersalls Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle.
She seems to be the apple of Nicky Henderson’s eye but her keen nature is a niggle and her trainer is equipping her with a first-time hood.
Defi Du Seuil was an outstanding juvenile hurdler this time two years ago and after a spell in the wilderness this season has got his career firmly back on track over fences.
Barry Geraghty hit the front too soon on him when clawed back by Lostintranslation in the Dipper Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, although he was conceding 3lb that day.
Lesson learnt, the pair turned the tables with something to spare in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown last time and can confirm the form.
Sire Du Berlais was an eye-catching staying-on fourth in the Martin Pipe last year and it looks like the pertemps has been the plan ever since.
He’s only 1lb higher, sneaked in by finishing sixth in a qualifier at Leopardstown over Christmas and has been put away since.
Just to cover all bases, and perhaps give the stewards an explanation when they ask about an “improved performance”, Gordon Elliott is equipping him with first-time cheekpieces. I can see him going off much shorter than the general 7-1 available.
In the same race, I’m also going to have an each-way play on Culture De Sivola, a dour stayer who shaped well when a staying-on fifth at Exeter last time. The demands of the race promise to play to his strengths.
Elliott’s Measureofmydreams has been an ante-post gamble for the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase and there’s no doubt he is potentially well handicapped.
However, he’s an 11-year-old who has clearly had physical issues and, at about 6-1, any value has been squeezed out of him.
I prefer the younger legs of Any Second Now, whose form from early in his career is strong. Derek O’Connor will be doing the steering.
McManus’ colours will be carried by Coney Island in the Ryanair Chase. He comes here fresh and has a first-time tongue tie but is not for me.
I much prefer Un De Sceaux, even though Ruby Walsh has rejected him for Footpad.
Un De Sceaux, winner of the race two years ago, was a below-par second in last year’s renewal but he has never finished outside the first two in all his British and Irish races (when completing) and looked as zestful as ever behind Altior in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December.
We all know he is well served by soft ground and more rain is forecast in the morning.
Last, but not least, Spiritofthegames demands attention at 10-1 in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate.
He was rated too high to get in the novices’ handicap chase on Tuesday but his connections will not be complaining because A Plus Tard, who won that race, looked something a bit special.
Overall, Spiritofthegames tackles much more exposed rivals here and he travelled like the best horse in the race when a close third behind Kildisart here last time. This stiffer test will suit.
He is also proven at the Festival, finishing fifth in the County Hurdle last year.
How To bet £20 on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival:
1.30 Defi Du Seuil £2 win at a general 100-30
2.10 Sire Du Berlais £2 win at a general 7-1 plus Culture De Sivola £1 each-way at 50-1 with Ladbrokes
4.10 Spiritofthegames £2.50 each-way at a general 9-1
5.30 Any Second Now £2.50 each-way at 10-1 with William Hill
Above five win selections in a 60p Win Lucky 31 plus a 60p each-way accumulator