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Cheltenham Morning Line: Whisky a go-go for Geraghty in the World Hurdle

by Sean Goff | March 14, 2013

SACRE BLEU:  Sprinter’s already odds-on for next season’s Champion Chase

Cheltenham | Day Three

Oscar Whisky polarises opinion quicker than Frankie Boyle but is Paddy Power’s market leader in today’s World Hurdle ahead of his Cleeve Hurdle conqueror Reve De Sivola.

A couple of dark horses in Solwhit and Wonderful Charm are unexposed over the 3m stamina-sapping trip but with no Big Buck’s there’s going to be a new name on the trophy for the first time in five years.

The going is good to soft, soft in places though the Cross-Country track faces an inspection at 11am – if if fails – the Chase will be run as the last race on Friday.

David Pipe swerved the RSA Chase with Dynaste (1.30) yesterday for the Jewson Novice Chase and it’s 6/4 that his decision will be vindicated.  The Pipe stable have yet to click into gear at the Festival  but the season’s leading novice chaser, plot horse Ballynagour (4pm) and Close House (2.05) could change that.

One-time Gold Cup outsider First Lieutenant (2.40) has been  diverted to the Ryanair Chase and is Paddy Power’s 5/2 favourite and should he collect will be a pointer to the chances of Bobs Worth and Sir Des Champs in tomorrow’s Gold Cup.

Guest columnist Matt Chapman called this a week ago when he urged Mouse Morris to aim First Lieutenant at this rather than the Blue Riband.

Chapman’s got his wish and thinks:

It’s a goodish race. First Lieutenant is definitely better off here than running in the Gold Cup. Cue Card will get taken on for the lead and his jumping will then fall apart.  Riverside Theatre’s form has been poor this season but did win this last year while Champion Court is interesting with Jason Maguire booked. Menorah definitely has an each-way chance if he puts it all together.

You can get all Thursday’s cheat sheets here.

Ruby Walsh added a winner to his three on Tuesday – a 25-1 screamer in the bumper aboard Briar Hill to take him to four in the leading jockey’s table. It probably won’t make up for Ponte Alexandre and Unioniste getting turned over but it leaves him two ahead of Barry Geraghty heading into day three.

The race to be top trainer sees Willie Mullins top the table on five winners with Nicky Henderson two behind on three and it will take a monumental effort – or a possible abandonment – to see anyone out of those four picking up the leading trainer/rider awards while Irish-trained winners just edge the English 7-6 heading into day three.

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