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Dan Sheridan/INPHO Aidan Coleman onboard Paisley Park during last year's Stayers' Hurdle.
3 expert tips for the penultimate day at Cheltenham
Johnny Ward gives his selections for the Marsh Novices’ Chase, the Ryanair Chase and the Stayers’ Hurdle.

THE BIGGEST WEEK in the racing calendar, the Cheltenham Festival, is upon us once again.

Thanks to William Hill, top racing journalist Johnny Ward is bringing you his best tips for each day’s racing. 

Here are three to consider for Thursday, 12 March… 

Paisley Park — 4/6 (Stayers’ Hurdle, 3.30)

After two terrific opening days of the Cheltenham Festival, Thursday’s card features both the Stayers’ Hurdle (3.30) and the Ryanair Chase.

William Hill got the better of punters on day one but it is a long week and Paisley Park (4/6) looks one for the punters in the feature event.

This horse, whose owner Andrew Gemmell has been blind since birth, is doing that owner proud. He is unbeaten since the start of last season, seven from seven, and opposition to Emma Lavelle’s charge is neither convincing nor plenty.

Samcro – 11/2 (Marsh Novices’ Chase, 1.30)

For many, however, the opening race will mean most. Here we have the 12-year-old Faugheen bidding to win a novice chase, the Marsh Novices’ Chase (1.30), something from the realms of fantasy.

Not only that: he takes on another son of Germany in Samcro (11/2), who has somehow managed just one career victory since a novice hurdle success at the Festival two years ago. Who would have thought!

However, Samcro was clearly not right at Limerick and how can we forget how he was travelling all over Fakir D’oudaries when falling at Fairyhouse? He has had a wind operation and William Hills’ top price 11/2 is too tempting to let go.

Shattered Love — 28/1 (Ryanair Chase, 2.50)

There’s no better place to back a long shot than at Cheltenham and Thursday’s suggestion goes in the Ryanair Chase (2.50). Shattered Love (28/1) was imperious when winning as a novice here two years ago and her running-on second at Gowran behind Chris’s Dream suggested that she was coming to hand.

Chris’s Dream is considered good enough to contest the Gold Cup on Friday so there was certainly no shame in the run of Shattered Love, with nothing else getting near to him. Three places makes this a very attractive each-way bet, for all that it is very difficult to knock the chance of the favourite, A Plus Tard.

Do remember that if Thursday goes poorly, there is always Friday!

Odds above correct at the time of writing. For all the latest prices, visit 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see

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