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Thursday 17th March Cheltenham Festival race card - Full schedule for St Patrick's Day

Jon Wilde in Thur. 16th March 16 Mar 2016
  • Seven races take place on St Patrick's Day at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival
  • We have details of all the contests scheduled for Thursday's card
Cole Harden (right) leads Saphir Du Rheu over the last flight on his way to winning the 2015 World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Day three of the Cheltenham Festival is no longer the ‘poor relation’ in terms of quantity of races - and the fact St Patrick’s Day falls on Thursday in 2016 makes it an even more special occasion.

Thursday used to be when only six races plus a charity event took place, but this year it has been raised to the full complement of seven with the introduction of a new contest towards the end of the card.

Here is the full schedule for the third day of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival:

1.30 JLT Novices’ Chase – 2 miles 3 furlongs 198 yards

This is the first race of the meeting to be staged on the New Course, which is used for the last two days rather than the Old Course. Irish raiders have taken four of the five previous runnings of this event but Nigel Twiston-Davies saddles a leading local contender in Bristol De Mai. 

2.10 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Final – 2 miles 7 furlongs 213 yards

The final after a series of qualifiers that take place throughout the season, this is always a wide-open contest in which various runners will have been ‘plotted up’ to peak on this particular day. Charles Byrnes’ Leave At Dawn and Nicky Henderson’s Cup Final are among the leading hopes.

2.50 Ryanair Chase – 2 miles 4 furlongs 166 yards

A championship race for horses that need an intermediary distance between two and three miles, this contest has gained in prestige year on year. It had looked like being a sub-standard renewal but the decision to switch Vautour to this race from the Gold Cup gives it a different complexion.

3.30 Ryanair World Hurdle – 2 miles 7 furlongs 213 yards

Defending champion Cole Harden is back to try and defend the crown in the race dominated by the great Big Buck’s between 2009 and 2012. The Thursday showpiece has lacked a superstar since he exited the stage but Colin Tizzard’s Thistlecrack could be the one to pick up the mantle.

4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase) – 2 miles 4 furlongs 166 yards

The first of two big-field handicap chases on the card, this one is for horses that fall short of Ryanair Chase class. Outsiders have a terrific record with winners since 2008 at 66/1, 50/1, 33/1 (twice) and 25/1, so that is worth factoring into your bets when considering who to back.

4.50 Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – 2 miles 179 yards

Cheltenham have emulated Aintree by adding a mares’ event to their schedule and this one is registered in honour of the legendary Dawn Run, who won the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup in the mid-1980s. Willie Mullins, whose father Paddy trained her, fields the hot favourite Limini.

5.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase – 3 miles 2 furlongs

An amateur riders’ contest with plenty of thrills and spills likely in a big field, although most of the horses are experienced chasers. Irishman Jamie Codd has won the race three times in the last seven years and he rides Cause Of Causes, winner of the four-miler at last year’s Festival.


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Thursday 17th March Cheltenham Festival race card - Full schedule for St Patrick's Day

Day three of the Cheltenham Festival is no longer the ‘poor relation’ in terms of quantity of races - and the fact St Patrick’s Day falls on Thursday in 2016 makes it an even more special occasion.

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