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Cheltenham Turners Chase tip: Grey Dawning takes on Facile Vega while Zanahiyr flies below radar

The Irish will bring high hopes to Cheltenham on unofficial St Patrick’s Day, kicking off with what should be a thrilling Turners Novices’ Chase to get day three up and running.

13:30 - Turners Novices’ Chase (2 miles 3 furlongs 168 yards) 

Facile Vega is well-fancied to maintain Willie Mullins’ Festival domination here, and after winning the 2022 Champion Bumper and coming second behind Marine Nationale in last year’s Supreme, he should go well again around Prestbury Park, albeit with question marks hanging over his most recent two outings at Leopardstown (last of four and third of six).

Iroko landed the Martin Pipe here a year ago, but nevertheless turns up as something of an unknown chasing quantity, having not been seen in four months since winning his solitary attempt over fences in a minor Warwick novice in November.

Planet Sport Bet: Bet £20+ cash on any runner in the race and if the favourite (inc. joint) wins, get a £5 Free Bet!

Of the other market leaders, Ginny’s Destiny looks a decent prospect for the Paul Nicholls-Harry Cobden pairing, and arrives here after completing a Cheltenham hat-trick over the winter that included the scalp of the equally well-fancied Grey Dawning

That said, Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old was giving Ginny’s Destiny three pounds that day and should be able to reverse that form now racing on level terms, having bookended that setback with tidy wins at Haydock and Warwick.

Suggested bet: Grey Dawning in the 13:30 at Cheltenham


At the time of writing, the other six of the ten scheduled starters are all available at 16/1 or more, which suggests some eachway value is lurking under the bookies’ radar, especially when consider the number of 1’s against all of their names.

The way Willie Mullins’ runners have been performing, his second string here, Sharjah must also be taken seriously as a two-time Champion Hurdle runner-up (behind Epatante and Honeysuckle), although this season’s Grade 1 form over fences has been far from stellar, and he would need a marked improvement to put himself in the mix in this company.

A potentially better each-way punt is Gordon Elliott’s only runner here, Zanahiyr, who finished a forgotten third behind Constitution Hill and State Man in last year’s Champion Hurdle, and was a much closer third in the Aintree Hurdle a month later.

His transition to larger obstacles has gone as well as could be hoped for, backing up a runner-up spot at Leopardstown in December with a hard-earned win over two miles when last seen at Punchestown a month ago.

That win came despite some rookie mistakes along the way, and if Jack Kennedy can coax a more polished jumping performance out of him, then this seven-year-old could develop into a chaser of note - starting here, perhaps?

Suggested bet: Zanahiyr each-way in the 13:30 at Cheltenham


Turners Novices’ Chase key stats

Top 3 trainers (last 20 years)

  • Willie Mullins - 27 runners, 4 winners and 4 places
  • Gordon Elliott - 4 runners, 2 winners and 1 place
  • Nicky Henderson - 14 runners, 1 winner and 4 places

Top 3 jockeys (last 20 years)

  • Nico De Boinville - 4 rides, 1 winner and 1 place
  • Harry Cobden - 3 rides with 1 winner
  • Jack Kennedy - 3 rides, 1 winner and 1 place

Past 5 winners of the Turners’ Novices’ Chase

  • 2019 Defi Du Seuil 3/1F
  • 2020 Samcro 4/1
  • 2021 Chantry House 9/1
  • 2022 Bob Olinger 6/5
  • 2023 Stage Star 15/2

Britain v Ireland

  • Ireland - 9 winners and 8 places from 49 runners
  • Britain - 4 winners and 15 places from 72 runners

READ MORE: Harry Cobden Planet Sport Bet Blog: Stage set to Star on Thursday at the Cheltenham Festival

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