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Cheltenham: Henderson’s Ryanair mare leads Thursday Lucky 15

| 11.03.2015

The 2015 Cheltenham Festival is already halfway gone and it’s time to get serious about punishing the bookmakers for their avaricious ways.

Thursday is the third day at the greatest show on turf and what better day for Nicky Henderson’s mare Ma Filluele to land the trainer’s first win of the meeting in the Ryanair Chase – bringing up the third leg of the news.ladbrokes.com lucky 15 in the process?

A £1 Lucky 15 on the following four selections pays a handsome £8,392 if successful.

1:30 – JLT Novices’ Chase – Valseur Lido @ 5/1

Beaten half a length by Apache Stronghold off the back of a three-month lay-off in mid-February, Willie Mullins’ six-year-old is far better judged by his 8l beating of the same foe in November, when more likely to have been fully wound up for battle.

If improving on that effort, which was characterised by very sound jumping, he should be more than a match for Vautor and last time out faller Ptit Zig.

2:05 – Pertemps Final – Brother Brian @ 12/1

Hughie Morrison’s hurdler has some nice form over Cheltenham’s New Course having taken a competitive April 2014 handicap that has produced tons of winners.

He gave likely favourite Call The Cops 2lbs and a 6l beating in his Kempton qualifier and can find the requisite improvement for tackling 3m for the first time here.

2:40 – Ryanair Chase – Ma Filleule @ 4/1

Like Valseur Lido, a promising silver-medallist on her comeback from a decent break, the mare is likely to come on leaps and bounds for her Ascot run behind Balder Success.

She really came into her own at around this term last term, running second in to Holywell in a hot Cheltenham handicap before winning Aintree’s Topham Chase.

Receiving 7lbs all round as the only female in the contest her allowance means she effectively runs off level weights with favourite Don Cossack.

3:20 – Word Hurdle – Whisper @ 11/1

Saphir Du Rheu isn’t the only one attempting to emulate Big Buck’s by landing this race after turning his back on an error–prone chasing career.

Paul Nicholls’ charge is the highest-rated hurdler in the field, but Whisper is just 1lb behind him according to the BHA and twice the price.

An Aintree Grade 1 scorer on his only try beyond 3m over timber, he had last year’s third At Fishers Cross 1l behind him at the line, with Zarkandar some way further back in fifth.

Already a proven festival horse having won last year’s County Hurdle, he’s entitled to improve for what is only his second stab at a stayers’ trip.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Thomas Reynolds