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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 30 August, 2014

TheScore.ie’s Morning Line: everything you need to enjoy day three at Cheltenham — and pick a winner

Will Annie Power maintain her impressive unbeaten run? Can Benefficient overcome the challenge of Dynaste for the second year running?

Updated at 12.14

Horse Racing - SkyBet Chase Saturday - Doncaster Racecourse

Source: John Giles

(Ruby Walsh is confident unbeaten Annie Power can continue her impressive success at Cheltenham today)

Three big talking points

1. Can Geraghty triumph for third time in the Novices’ Chase?

Horse Racing - 2014 Cheltenham Festival - Ladies Day - Cheltenham Racecourse

Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

(Irish jockey Barry Geraghty has already won twice at this year’s festival and 30 times in total)

The Novices’ Chase, which gets underway at 1.30pm today, is undoubtedly one of the most difficult races to call with a number of strong contenders. Paul Nicholls’ Wonderful Charm and Willie Mullins’ Felix Yonger are unsurprisingly among the favourites, as is Jonjo O’Neill’s  Taquin Du Seuil.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Barry Geraghty is looking to claim a win for the third day in succession with Oscar Whisky, after previous triumphs on Jezki and O’Faolains Boy in the Champion Hurdle and RSA Chase respectively.

Following Wednesday’s developments, Geraghty now has more wins (30) at the festival than anyone apart from Ruby Walsh (41).

2. Benefficient and Dynaste set to go head to head again in Ryanair Chase

Horse Racing - 2013 Cheltenham Festival - Day Three - Cheltenham Racecourse

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

(Benefficient ridden by Irish jockey Bryan Cooper triumphed at last year’s festival)

It’s no surprise to see Benefficient and Dynaste listed as the favourites in this year’s Ryanair Chase (2.40pm).

The two came first and second respectively a year ago in Jewson Novices’ Chase, and Benefficient’s victory was somewhat of an upset on that occasion, having been priced at 20/1 .

But don’t be surprised if Tony Martin’s eight-year-old emulates his previous success this time around, particularly given his trainer’s recent suggestion that the ground will suit the Irish gelding.

Dynaste, meanwhile, has not been in action since putting in a disappointing performance in the King George VI Chase on St Stephen’s Day, and so his rival appears to have the edge going into this encounter.

Moreover, Paul Nicholls’ Al Ferof, who’s ridden by Daryl Jacob, is arguably the most likely to trouble the aforementioned duo, and represents a tempting alternative gamble at 4/1.

3. Will Annie Power live up to expectations in Ladbrokes World Hurdle?


If races were decided on paper, then Willie Mullins’ Annie Power would be the clear winner in this one, with odds of 7/4 at the time of writing.

The favourites have performed relatively well so far this year, with Sire De Grugy and Faugheen coming out on top yesterday, and the undefeated mare, with a phenomenal ten wins from ten outings, is strongly positioned to continue that trend. Nevertheless, there are doubts over whether the Irish horse has the stamina to prevail today, despite jockey Ruby Walsh trying to allay these concerns in the build-up to the event.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, More Of That (10/1) and the four-time champion between 2009 and 2012 Big Buck’s (3/1) are all surely worth a punt with Quevega unlikely to run after winning a record sixth straight Mares’ Hurdle on Tuesday.

Watch all the action unfold from 3.20pm in what looks set to be an enthralling race.

Nap of the Day

Most people are seeing the Ladbrokes World Hurdle as a straight showdown between Annie Power and Big Buck’s, but horse racing is rarely so simple. Rule The World may be an outsider, but Mouse Morris’ horse appears to be priced invitingly at 9/1 (at the time of writing).

An each-way fancy

Horse Racing - Jonjo O'Neill Stable Visit - Jackdaws Castle

Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

(Taquin Du Seuil, pictured above with trainer Jonjo O’Neil and stable lass Kate, has decent odds this year)

The Novices’ Chase looks like anyone’s race, though Oscar Whisky (6/1) and Taquin Du Seuil (8/1) are two of the genuinely strong contenders and consequently would be well worth an each-way bet.

Accumulator

A treble on Taquin Du SeuilAl Ferof and Big Buck’s is a somewhat daring but hardly unreasonable bet.

As it happened: Cheltenham Festival 2014, Day 2>

The Winner’s Enclosure: Irish eyes smiling once again after Day Two>

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