The final race of the schedule on Cheltenham day three is set to be the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase. It’s a mouthful to say and it’s just as tricky to navigate through this mammoth field of runners. A field of 23 horses is set to line up for this race so let’s take a look at how each one is looking ahead of the starter’s orders.
I think it is fair to call him a bit of a monkey as he has been reluctant to race in the past. His rider has said that he really should be going for the Midlands National on Saturday, but Patrick wants to become just the 3rd jockey to win all 3 races at the meeting so he is running here instead. He seemed to be on a going day last time at Warwick when staying on for 2nd behind Iwilldoit. If he repeats that effort then he is a big player here, but the drop-down in trip might not be ideal.
Has won over fences here, back in October 2021 over 2m4f, but he then seemed to go the wrong way over fences and this season he has gone back over hurdles to great success winning here in November and at Newbury last month. If he brings that form back over fences he’d be an e/w chance in this, but that could be a big if.
Won a Listed Race at Carlisle on chasing debut in October, but his jumping hasn’t been as good since at both Haydock and here on New Year’s Day when a 20L 4th to The Real Whacker. Clearly, nothing of his class in this and a stamina test might suit him more based on his hurdles form.
James King is a very good booking for a horse who has disappointed on his 2 starts including over course and distance on New Year’s Day and was then even worse at Ascot last time. On his seasonal return in December though he was a very good winner of the Welsh National Trial at Chepstow and he wouldn’t be the first horse from the yard to bounce back to form at this meeting.
He was the winner of that course and distance race on New Year’s Day and he is only 5lbs higher here. He ran OK at Sandown last time over a slightly shorter trip and the fact that a very good jockey in Alice Stevens is able to claim 3 is no bad thing either. Horses in 1st time headgear tend to do well at this meeting and he has a visor on for the first time.
Has had a very in-and-out season having refused to race in November at Punchestown and then winning over 2m4f a week later at Gowran Park. He then pulled up at Fairyhouse the following month, before bouncing right back to form in the Thyestes back at Gowran when going down a short head to Carefully Selected. Jamie Codd has won this race 4 times and if he is on a going day then it is easy to see him going close.
Was 8th in the Pertemps Final here last season and he has only had 4 races over fences going into this. He pulled up here first up in October but did better when a close 2nd at Chepstow in December. He then disappointed at Doncaster later that month before going to Newbury and winning a 3-runner race last month. Can run well although doesn’t strike me as a likely winner.
We know he stays well as he won the Highland National at Perth last April. He then had a break and when he returned he added the Southern National at Fontwell to his CV. He was terrible when favourite last time though in the Edinburgh National. Gina Andrews is a top booking and if he bounces back to his Perth and Fontwell form then he has a solid e/w chance.
Very in and out and never seems to follow a good run with another. He was 2nd in the Cork National in November but then ran 3 poor races before finishing 3rd in the Grand National Trial a Punchestown last month. Has an e/w chance if on a going day, but chances are he won’t be.
Won on his first start over fences back in October 2020, but was then brought down the following month at Punchestown. Clearly had issues since then because he didn’t run again until January when he bolted up by 10L at Punchestown. He has been hammered in the handicap on the back of that though and is 15lbs higher here, but, clearly, he is very unexposed and he might be up to it.
Ran in the Cleeve Hurdle last time, but was well beaten and ran OK in the Coral Gold Cup when 9th the time before. Won here at the October meeting and was a good 2nd to Frodon in the Badger Beer at Wincanton. Is capable of running well, but I suspect he might need better ground.
Had looked fairly progressive prior to running poorly in the Thyestes last time. Had won over 3m5f at Fairyhouse the time before and was 2nd over 3m1f here at the November meeting. If he bounces back he’s another that wouldn’t be out of this.
Started life in points and was very impressive when winning a hunter chase at Hexham in May 2021. Struggled when going handicapping to start with, but then found his form and won easily at Chepstow and Sandown last February. Was an OK return over hurdles at Bangor in November, but was well beaten in the Becher Chase the following month and was no better in a Grade 2 over hurdles last month at Haydock. Would imagine he will try and make it all but will find it hard to do so.
Only 6, but has looked very progressive the last twice winning by 12L at Thurles in January and then by 7L at Sandown last month and the 2nd has franked the form since. Has gone up 12bs for that, but there could easily be more to come from him.
Was very disappointing when sent off favourite for the Grand National Trial at Haydock last month and he had run well on his previous two starts this season when he won at Haydock and was a staying on 4th a Kempton over 3m. Again he is another one who could easily go well if he bounces back to form.
Did win at Exeter last time and does have Derek O’Connor on top, but this 10yo is more exposed than most here and he might struggle in a race like this.
Seemed to enjoy stepping up to 3m at Sandown last time when a good 3rd, but would need to find improvement from somewhere to land a blow in this.
3rd to Punitive at Fairyhouse in December, but was poor last time at Leopardstown in December and whilst she does have scope for improvement she does need to find a fair bit.
Landed the 4m race here on hunter chase night and has done well since going back handicapping including winning over course and distance in April. Run well this season without winning including finishing 2nd in the Edinburgh National last time. This is tougher, but he can go well.
Has run really well since going handicap chasing having finished a short head 2nd at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve, before winning at Down Royal the following month. She then unseated at 2 out when still in contention in the Grand National Trail last time and this progressive mare should have more to come.
Finally got off the mark over fences last time at Fairyhouse, but whilst he was 1/2L behind Angels Dawn at Down Royal in January that one does look more progressive.
Coo Star Sivola
Has struggled in 3 runs so far for this yard.
3rd in this last year and is 8lbs lower this year, but he looks badly out of form at the moment.
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Tips
This is one of the toughest races of the meeting and the shortlist is pretty big. Of the shorter-priced horses I think Angels Dawn makes the most appeal as she has a low weight here and looks progressive. There are quite a few here who if you forgive their previous run then would have a big chance and given Venetia Williams won this race last year with a 40/1 shot I give both Farinet and Fontaine Collonges good chances at big prices. I am just going to side with Rapper though. He is a course and distance winner on soft ground and didn’t run badly at all down in trip at Sandown last time. I like the angle of the first-time visor and Alice Stevens is very good value for her 3lbs claim.
Rapper e/w @ 25/1 with Bet365 6 Places
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All odds are correct at the time of writing.