Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore continue to take this meeting by storm. I continue to be made to look foolish. Tiger Roll is far from gone at the game. It was a win to raise the spirits of all racing fans, and particularly those working for Cullentra House.
And so we make our way to to the third day, where a horse for the ages bids for his third successive Festival triumph.
1.20 Marsh Novices' Chase
A decent turnout for this race given the monumental task faced by seven of the runners. Envoi Allen should win. It's what he does after all. The recent change of stable is of little concern. Most top-class horses have sound temperaments. Envoi Allen is no exception. The only worry would be if the horse had gone off his feed. Horses have delicate digestive systems. If this horse wasn't licking the pot clean, I doubt he'd be running here. This season hasn't gone to plan for Darver Star. It's possible to make excuses though, and he did put in a solid shift at this meeting last year. He could make the frame at a big price.
Selection: Envoi Allen 1-2
1.55 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
Come On Teddy makes plenty of appeal. The form of his course and distance win last December is very strong. I'm not sure whether it was the track or the ground that caught him out on his latest start at Warwick. I'm convinced we didn't see the best of him though. Off just a seven pound higher mark than that December win, this unexposed sort looks sure to run well. The handicapper asks a big question of The Bosses Oscar. Jordan Gainsford's valuable claim eases the burden somewhat. He could well provide Cullentra House with yet another Cheltenham handicap winner.
Selection: Come On Teddy 10-1
2.30 Ryanair Chase
A deep renewal both in terms of numbers and quality. Saint Calvados ran a huge race when finishing a close second in this race last year. He has since shown up well in the King George at Kempton. A combination of racing keenly, and the three mile trip stretching his stamina ultimately did for him. He will relish the strong pace this race seems sure to be run at. Min isn't getting any younger but he should make a good fist of retaining his title.
Selection: Saint Calvados 10-1
3.05 Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle
Paisley Park rates the bet of the meeting. Everything bar his below par effort in this race last year suggests this nine-year-old is at the peak of his powers. Flooring Porter will ensure he gets a solid pace to run at and the configuration of this track is made for the horse. Fury Road hasn't really kicked on since his fine effort in a strong renewal of the Albert Bartlett at last year's meeting. It would be no surprise were he to bounce back here. He can complete the forecast.
Selection: Paisley Park 9-4
3.40 Paddy Power Plate Handicap
The Shunter looks progressive enough to defy the handicapper. He showed plenty of heart to win a big field handicap hurdle at this course last November. He has since put in another couple of solid shifts. On neither occasion did he enjoy the run of the race. Huntsmans Son has a fine record fresh. If returning to the form of his Wetherby win on penultimate start, this horse could run well at a big price.
Selection: The Shunter 9-2
4.15 Parnell Properties Mares' Novices' Hurdle
A tricky puzzle. Hook Up ran well in better company at the Dublin Racing Festival. She should enjoy the strong pace this race is likely to be run at. The greater emphasis on speed probably isn't ideal for Roseys Hollow. This progressive mare is feared all the same.
Selection: Hook Up 7-1
4.50 pm Kim Muir Handicap Chase
A minefield for punters. Plan Of Attack ran well at the meeting last year, and showed signs of life last time. The handicapper gives him a chance and first-time blinkers will hopefully work some magic. He rates the token selection. Musical Slave is a risky conveyance. If his jumping holds up, he looks handicapped to win.
Selection: Plan Of Attack 9-1