CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL: Lieutenant hoping to be the ruler of the World

Dodging Bullets ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies (centre) goes on to win the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday
Dodging Bullets ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies (centre) goes on to win the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday

Day Three of the festival is perceived as the weakest, but there are still two Grade 1’s on the card including the championship race the World Hurdle.

More of That is injured and won’t be defending his crown which leaves the race very open.

Lieutenant Colonel could be the new superstar of the stayers’ hurdling division.

The Gigginstown six-year-old was sired by Ascot Gold Cup and Irish St Ledger winner Kayf Tara so stamina won’t be an issue.

An impressive winner of the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse, Lieutenant Colonel followed up with another Grade 1 victory at Leopardstown and may want a bit of rain as all his best form is on soft to good.

Lieutenant Colonel would give trainer Sandra Hughes her first festival winner after taking the licence over from her late husband, Dessie.

Saphir Du Rheu carries the colours of four-time winner Big Buck’s and won the Cleve Hurdle which has been a good guide in previous years, although it has fallen twice in its last four races.

Favourite Zarkandar has been beaten in its last nine runs while Jetson could be a lively outsider.

The other Grade 1 is the Ryanair Chase the middle distance championship.

On form the Gordon Elliott trained Don Cossack is a worthy market leader but history is against it.

There has been no Irish-trained winner of the race, all seven winners have ran in the King George and 16 winners or runner-up have won at Cheltenham before, Don Cossack ticks none of those boxes although the same could be said of Don Poli yesterday and he smashed his rivals.

However, the Gigginstown eight-year-old has won all four chases this season on ground ranging between good to firm to yielding and won his prep race at Thurles by 44 lengths in January.

The day kicks off with the JLT Novices chase and Willie Mullins Vautour will be short priced. An impressive six-length winner of the Supreme Novice Hurdle last year, he suffered a shock defeat on Boxing Day but returned to the winner’s enclosure with a facile 92-length victory at Leopardstown in January.