After a solid Day 1 Preview with Supreme winner Klassical Dream (6/1) and A Plus Tard (16/1 Ante-Post) storming home, we swiftly move onto Day 2, where hopefully we can again pick up some more winners. Be sure to follow me on twitter @JakePriceTips for live updates from the racecourse throughout the day.
13:30 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) – 2m5f
My main fancy for the Ballymore was Willie Mullins’ Klassical Dream, so it wasn’t ideal when I found out that he had been declared for the Supreme on Sunday morning – not that I’m complaining now! Never the less, I am adamant on taking on Champ in this contest, as I really have struggled to get on board with this Newbury Handicap Hurdle winner. He clearly is a decent horse, however a combination of his temperament when combined with the fact that no Challow Hurdle winner has ever gone on to score in this Cheltenham Grade 1, makes him far too short in my eyes. Battleoverdoyen is interesting having won on all three starts this season, bolting up in a bumper before winning by thirteen lengths at Navan in December. This Gordon Elliot charge proved he is top class when winning a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Naas in January, beating Sams Profile by two-and-three-quarter lengths. As much as he has a solid chance on form, I would worry that he looks a big chaser in the making and might find a few too quick for him here.
The selections I have come down on here is Brewin’Upastorm. Olly Murphy had both second and third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday, but his best chance of a winner all week comes in the form of this six-year-old who features on my Horses to Follow list. A winner on debut at Huntingdon in December by four lengths, Brewin’Upastorm had only his second start over Hurdles in that aforementioned Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury – finishing four-lengths fourth behind Champ. Although behind the favourite for this race that day, his trainer has since come out and said that he gave jockey Richard Johnson the wrong instructions to hold the horse up that day, and he proved this to be correct at Cheltenham Trials Day in January. Given a much more positive ride, Brewin’Upastorm really seemed to enjoy himself at Prestbury Park, leading by half-a-length before falling at the last. Although this Barbara Hester charge took a tumble at the last, he was a length up on Birchdale and looked to be going the better of the pair – with many arguing that our selection here would’ve won if staying up. Having shown significant promise at the track and with new tactics to boot, I’m confident that or selection can reverse his earlier form with Champ. In a very open looking Ballymore, I’ll take a chance on Olly Murphy having another ready for their big day here.
Brewin’Upastorm @ 7/1
14:10 – RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) – 3m½f
History could be set to repeat itself in the RSA, won last year by the previous year’s Pertemps Final winner Presenting Percy. Gordon Elliot’s Delta Work did of course win the Pertemps Final last season when seeing off Glenloe by a nose under a fantastic Davy Russell ride. He ran a career best over hurdles on his next start at Punchestown when a neck second to Next Destination in the three-mile Grade 1 Novice Hurdle, before going off on a Summer break. A winner on Chase debut by three-quarters of a length at Down Royal over 2m3½f on Good ground, this Gordon Elliot charge ran again on ground which is probably faster than ideal when winning the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse – seeing off what was the Arkle favourite (before injury) in Le Richebourg. That race was also only over two-and-a-half miles, so it’s clear that our selection doesn’t lack speed to win over shorter. Stepped up to three-miles for the first time over fences at Leopardstown in December, Delta Work put in another fantastic performance to win a second Grade 1 contest, seeing off Joseph O’Brien’s Mortal by eight-lengths. Gordon Elliot’s star Novice Chaser comes into this contest as the joint top-rated horse on 155, and this six-year-old looks a rock solid favourite – especially when you consider the problems that Santini has had in his preparation.
Nicky Henderson’s aforementioned Grade 1 Grand Sefton Novice Hurdle winner looked to be one of the horses to take this three-mile division by storm this year, but things haven’t quite worked out as well as connections would have hoped. A winner on debut at Newbury when landing a Grade 2 Novices’ Chase in December, this seven-year-old has only been able to have one start since when third behind La Bague Au Roi in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton over Christmas. Clearly the track didn’t suit that day, so you can’t come down on him too hard for that performance, however his chances of winning an RSA took a serious dent due to the Equine Flu case. Santini was due to run in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot last month but had to miss his engagement due to not being vaccinated during the last six-months. It won’t be uncommon to find horses who have missed their prep-runs at this year’s Festival, however things went from bad to worse when Nicky Henderson reported that Santini had lost a shoe on the 3rd March and was poulticed subsequently. On the 5th March Nicky came out and said that he was still sore on his near fore foot, and on the 8th March there was another worrying report stating he had put a poultice back on once more. With such a troubled preparation, Santini will need to be a superstar to win this.
Topofthegame is another horse worth a mention in this for Paul Nicholls, and this massive horse clearly will go close having finished ahead of Santini at Kempton on his last start, but I do worry that three-miles does test his stamina. He showed his quirky side at Exeter on Chase Debut when gifting his rivals twenty-lengths at the start, but did get back into the race well to only finish three-and-a-half lengths behind JLT favourite Defi Du Seuil – but that race came over 2m3f. If he does stay the trip then he is sure to run well, but I would be confident that Delta Work can get the better of him on softer ground.
Delta Work @ 11/4
14:50 – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – 2m5f
The Coral Cup has increasingly gone to the classy horses in the field in recent years with Medinas, Whisper, Diamond King, Supasundae and Bleu Berry all winning from 11-2 or higher in the last six renewals. With this in mind, the first horse that interests me is Colin Tizzard’s Vision Des Flos, who runs here from a fair looking mark of 152. Sixth behind Samcro last season in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, this six-year-old underwent a second wind operation in December before finishing two-lengths behind Buveur D’Air at Sandown – nine-lengths ahead of Tuesday’s Mares’ Hurdle winner Roksana. Out again just fourteen days later, connections sent Vision Des Flos to Wincanton to contest the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle, where he ran well to finish third over a trip which is probably now on the short side for this son of Balko. Sent out again eight-days later at Fontwell, our selection finally got his head in front again to win the 2m3f Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle, travelling extremely well before putting the race to bed with Lil Rockerfeller three-and-three-quarter lengths behind in third. Although having to carry near top-weight in his first ever handicap, Vision Des Flos looks to have a great chance here under top Irish Jockey Robbie Power.
My second selection for this competitive Handicap has a very similar profile to last year’s winner Bleu Berry, in the shape of Scarpeta. Fourth in the Ballymore at last year’s Festival behind Samcro on only his third start over Hurdles, this six-year-old won on seasonal reappearance at Clonmel in December when winning an open-company Hurdle by eight-lengths. We last saw this Soldier Of Fortune gelding at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve, when contesting another open-company Hurdle. Sent off the 13/8 favourite, Scarpeta made a bad mistake at the third last which saw stablemate Bachasson beat Joseph O’Brien’s Darasso, with our selection in third. He wasn’t disgraced that day by some useful rivals, and heading into this from a mark of 151 looks fair on his acheivements to date. The Soft going will be ideal conditions for this Danny Mullins ride, and I can see him running a big race despite not being Willie Mullins’ first string.
Vision Des Flos Each/Way @ 16/1
Scarpeta Each/Way @ 22/1
15:30 – Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) – 2m
The Queen Mother Champion Chase doesn’t take much explaining this season, with Altior looking set to complete a double having beaten Min last season. That rival does reoppose under Ruby Walsh, and he could be a nice each/way price if you can guarantee your money back. This is just a race to sit back and enjoy for me however, as Altior is such an incredible horse.
Altior (No Bet)
16:10 – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (Class 2) – 3m6f
One of the best parts about attending Cheltenham on the Wednesday is when the crowd is allowed into the centre of the course to watch the unique Cross Country Chase. A bonus with both this year and last is that my favourite horse in training – Tiger Roll – runs in the race. This gallant little horse is obviously already a three-times Cheltenham Festival winner having won the Triumph Hurdle (2014), National Hunt Chase (2017) and this race last year. Tiger Roll crowned all his achievements to date off by triumphing in the Grand National last year, but has shown this season that he isn’t done yet. Gordon Elliot gave him his first start of the season back in November over this Cross Country course and distance, where he was allowed to jog around and finish fourth of seven. That run came under Handicap conditions however, with the Gigginstown charge having to give away 15lbs to the winner Josies Orders. Off the track until February, Gordon Elliot decided to give Tiger Roll a prep race over Hurdles at Navan, where he contested the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle. Sent off a 25/1 shot as connections had stated it was no more than a prep-run, this incredible horse was travelling powerfully rounding the home bend and duly went on to score very easily under Keith Donoghue by four-lengths back to Off You Go. This son of Authorized looked like he could go around again that day, and back into an open-company race over the banks he loves so much, I really struggle to see him getting beat. GO ON THE TIGER!
Tiger Roll @ 11/8
16:50 – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – 2m½f
I had put up two Ante-Post selections for the Fred Winter, but unfortunately only Band Of Outlaws remains after the declaration stage. Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old clearly has a favourites chance for this however, winning impressively at Naas last month to add to a previous victory at Limerick on Boxing Day. The way that this 93 rated flat horse races is particularly impressive, as he is able to be buried into the pack before showing a deadly turn of foot when required. Regular jockey J J Slevin retains the ride for this Grade 3 Handicap, and his style alone should see him powerfully bound up the hill when many will be crying enough. I’d expect him to go very close from a very fair mark of 139.
Band Of Outlaws tipped @ 8/1 (Now 13/2)
17:30 – Champion Bumper (Grade 1) – 2m½f
Envoi Allen featured on my horses to follow list at the start of the season, and I have found no reason to abandon him for this Grade 1 event. This £400,000 purchase won in very impressive style on debut at Fairyhouse in December, beating Jessie Harrington’s Port Stanley by four-lengths in a very comfortable display. Stepped into Listed class at Navan in December, this Cheveley Park Stud charge again looked impressive when scoring by four-and-three-quarter lengths, showing that he clearly has the talent to match his price tag. This Gordon Elliot charge was last seen in a Grade 2 Bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, when really gamely seeing off Meticulous by one-and-a-quarter lengths under a brilliant Jamie Codd drive. Although for the first time in his career showing signs he could be beaten that day, this future three-mile chaser stuck on well despite racing wide throughout, so you’d have to think that a stiffer finish at Cheltenham on softer ground will suit him perfectly.
Elsewhere in the field, Ask For Glory is another horse included in my horses to follow list, but you’d have to feel this is a tough ask on just his second bumper start. Blue Sari looked impressive on debut but has again only had one run under rules, and Meticulous has an eye-catching jockey booking in the shape of Donnacha O’Brien. Master Debonair is a very good horse from the Colin Tizzard yard, who won over course and distance in November when beating Thyme Hill by a neck. He’d clearly have a good chance in this, under top jockey Robbie Power.
Envoi Allen @ 4/1