Punters enjoyed a successful start to the Cheltenham Festival with the hotly-tipped Douvan, Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag all racing to victory on day one.
Can the punters continue to get the better of the bookies on day two? Our selections below will hopefully help!
1.30 Neptune Novices Hurdle
Many see Alan King’s Yanworth as one of the bankers of the week in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, but the Mullins-trained YORKHILL should make a race of it.
For a long time it looked like Yorkhill would join stable companion Min in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but Ireland’s champion trainer has decided to split his aces and he instead steps up in distance 24 hours later in what could be a race to savour.
An impressive bumper winner at Punchestown last spring, the Mullins runner has impressed twice over hurdles and the form of his comfortable victory in the Tolworth Hurdle looks very strong.
Yanworth undoubtedly sets the standard and has the experience edge in terms of jumping, but Yorkhill has massive untapped potential and looks the value call.
2.10 RSA Chase
The RSA Chase looks a straight match between MORE OF THAT and No More Heroes and with conditions drying out all the time, preference is for the former.
Jonjo O’Neill’s charge defeated the great Annie Power in the 2014 World Hurdle and while he has since spent a year on the sidelines, he appears to have lost none of his talent judged on two comprehensive chase victories at Prestbury Park.
He is four from four at Cheltenham overall and assuming the forecast is correct and a sound surface prevails, More Of That might just have a touch too much class for his main rival.
2.50 Coral Cup
The progressive ROCK THE KASBAH should give us a good run for our money in the fiercely competitive Coral Cup.
3.30 Queen Mother Champion Chase
UN DE SCEAUX can show three previous winners the way home in a fascinating renewal of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Trainer Willie Mullins ruffled a few feathers when electing to bypass the 2014 Champion Hurdle with his free-going French import in favour of a quieter trip to France, but hindsight suggests that was probably the correct call as the eight-year-old appears at least slightly more tractable these days.
A brilliant winner of last year’s Arkle, Un De Sceaux has never been beaten in 14 completed starts, but the knockers will point to his two falls at Thurles last season and at Leopardstown over Christmas as evidence he is far from flawless.
However, on both occasions he was making his first appearance of the campaign and that freshness led to him being too keen and too brave. He ultimately paid the penalty.
But even the great Moscow Flyer ended up on the deck a few times and the truth is a lot of the very best two-mile chasers tread that fine line between triumph and disaster. It is what makes the division arguably the most compelling of them all.
There was no sign of a repeat of those errors when he slammed 2014 Champion Chaser Sire De Grugy at Ascot last month and with a clear round, it is hard to see the rest pegging him back in the main event on day two of the Festival.
Sprinter Sacre looked invincible at his peak, but it is three years since his mesmerising performance in this event and a lot has happened since.
Nicky Henderson has worked wonders to get him back on the track and there was not a dry eye in the house when he bolted up at Cheltenham in November, but while gallops reports have been positive of late, it is hard to believe he is back to his best and he might need to be if he is to reel in the Irish-trained favourite.
Dodging Bullets won a sub-standard renewal 12 months ago and was beaten on his comeback, while it is hard to see Sire De Grugy reversing Ascot form, although the fitting of blinkers make him an attractive each-way bet at decent odds.
4.10 Cross Country Chase
Balthazar King would bring the house down if he can win a third Glenfarclas Chase, but it is a big ask on his first start since suffering injury in last year’s Grand National and preference is for JOSIES ORDERS, a dual winner at the track already this season for cross-country king Enda Bolger and the brilliant Nina Carberry.
4.50 Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle
CAMPEADOR is expected to go well in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle and is our fancy to race to victory.
5.30 Champion Bumper
NEW TO THIS TOWN has recently been snapped up by Alan and Ann Potts and the Jessica Harrington-trained five-year-old can give the leading owners an immediate return on their investment by landing the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
Cheltenham day two selections
- 1.30 Yorkhill
- 2.10 More Of That
- 2.50 Rock The Kasbah
- 3.30 UN DE SCEAUX (NAP)
- 4.10 Josies Orders
- 4.50 Campeador
- 5.30 New To This Town