Aupcharlie to keep the ball rolling for Mullins
IT'S great to see Willie Mullins' horses in such fine form and he has my nap of the day again in the opening race of day three of the Festival with Aupcharlie in the Jewson.
He has serious competition, not least from Dynaste, which was switched to this race having originally been targeted for yesterday's RSA Chase, but Willie's yard is in such good nick that he can't be ignored.
He ran second in his last two outings and can go one better here. While Argocat will go close for Tom Taaffe, Willie and Andrew Lynch should be celebrating here.
Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh look to hold the best entry for the Pertemps at 2.05. Sam Winner impressed me at Kempton in January when seeing off Peddlers Cross. He was fourth behind Zarkandar in the 2011 renewal of Triumph Hurdle, just a neck behind the third-placed Grandouet, so he's the one they all have to beat here.
Jessica Harringon will get a good run here too with Jetson, which is a decent sort.
Colin Tizzard's Cue Card gets my vote for the Ryanair Chase. He was a good winner of the Ascot Chase in February, even if Captain Chris made a mess of the penultimate fence, and he has enough class to win this. First Lieutenant was always likely to go down this route, even if it was only confirmed on Tuesday morning that he wouldn't be in the Gold Cup. He has course form and will give a good run for your money, but I'll stick with Cue Card to do the business.
I'm sure racing fans would have loved to have seen Big Buck's try to win his fifth World Hurdle in a row today but it wasn't to be and it means there'll be a new winner for the first time since 2008.
Irish horses don't have a great recent record in this race. Solwhit looks to have overcome some recent injuries and is a nice horse but I'm going to go for Oscar Whisky. He ran second to Reve De Sivola last time out, was fifth in this race last year and can make the improvement necessary to take the spoils. Looking further down the field, Willie has a horse that should be a bit of each-way value in So Young.
The Byrne Group Plate looks competitive but Alan King's Walkon is worth a shot despite being pulled up when running here in January, while Casey Top is a horse worth keeping an eye on also.
In the Kim Muir Handicap, Alfie Sheerin is a Festival winner for Jonjo O'Neill and Alan Berry and the 10-year-old is lightly raced, having only been seen twice this season. However, I'm going to go for Romanesco and Nina Carberry to get home first. This is within their reach from a decent mark.
We have the Cross Country Chase on today's card that was postponed on Tuesday but I'm not going to change my prediction that Arabella Boy is the one to beat.
Enda Bolger dominated this race towards the end of the last decade and with Nina again up and a nice weight, he can give the yard their first win in this race since 2009.