Last year, Festival Wednesday belonged to the mudlarks. This year, it was much the same. Jetting out on the cross-country, Delta Work powered clear of Galvin and Franco De Port, after Snow Leopardess set the pace early on, hopping over each obstacle schooling-style, removing them as items on a personal playground. Langer Dan gave his (we presume not namesake) trainer Dan Skelton a win in the Coral Cup (and another British tally on the Prestbury Cup scoreboard), but Sir Gerhard didn't manage to stick his neck out in the Brown Advisory, and Edwardstone lost the Queen Mother to now two-time Champion Chase winning Energumene. Yesterday's emotion, indeed, came at the end of the day, as we were packing up and filing out. A Dream To Share gave 18-year-old John Gleeson his first ride at the Festival... and, you guessed it, his first win.
In we go to Day Three and, if you've been with us since Tuesday, you might be starting to feel a little worse for wear? Shishkin should perk you up again though, as he cruises home in the Ryanair at 2:50pm this afternoon. His opposition may be tough (this year's Irish Gold Cup third, Fury Road, will be fighting a private battle), but the old boy showed his worth in the Ascot Chase last month, much to the delight of a adorably jubilant Nicky Henderson. Last year's Ryanair hero, Allaho, misses out in 2023, but his second (Willie Mullins' Janadil) could throw a spanner in the works.
Elsewhere, the tricolore could be flying above Cleeve Hill just after 3:30pm, in a French sideshow from the Prestbury Cup. Gold Tweet runs for Gabriel Leenders, hoping for a follow-up fairytale from two months back. Flooring Porter would, however, be an equally accepted victor in the Stayers Hurdle, with the black and white colours of his syndicate happily carpeting a welcoming course. Look out too for Captain Morgs today, running in similar colours (with the addition of a yellow cap) for our friends in the Albatross Club. Indeed, even with royal runner Steal A March out, the Pertemps Final could still be a secured Henderson takeover, with recent Exeter success Walking On Air completing a field that also features Martin Pipe's Thanksforthehelp.
Banbridge looks set to run a corker in the opening contest today, the Turners Novice Chase. He might have been underwhelming of late, but a thrashing of Gaillard Du Mesnil was only three months gone, and with James Du Berlais struggling, 2021 Supreme winning stablemate Appreciate It looks his only danger. Mr Incredible is our pick in the Kim Muir, Princess Zoe (fresh from successful flat flip, which included a fourth to Kyprios in the G1 Prix du Cadran) will be a fascinating watch in the Mares Novice Hurdle. Many punters' banker, Il Ridoto looks set to gather in the Magners Plate field, after impressing for Paul Nicholls on Trials Day.
Matt Chapman's Ones to Watch
Let's start off in the Turners. I like the look of Mighty Potter here. Won't be a big price, but despite not being the most fluent of jumpers, he should be too good. In the Pertemps at 2:10pm, I think Thanksforthehelp. Chucked in for David Pipe and JP McManus... looks a good thing to me.
In the 2:50pm, the Ryanair, we all think Shishkin will win. But I'll be having a little each way on Fury Road for Gordon Elliott, who's down in trip. It's defending champion Flooring Porter for me in the Stayers Hurdle, wheras in the Magners Plate, I like Il Ridoto for Paul Nicholls (the Champion Trainer). The Mares Novice Hurdle can go to Luccia, and in the Kim Muir, I'm going to have a little each way on Beauport for Nigel Twiston-Davies.
-> Catch me in person this morning, and every day of the Festival, in the exclusive Racing Breaks Legends Lounge. I'll be dishing out tips with Sky's Mike Cattermole, ITV colleague Mick Fitzgerald and ace pundit Paul Kealy. Yeeehaaa!