After all the excitement and drama of Tuesday at the Cheltenham Festival, our top tipster is here with all the information you need ahead of day two at Prestbury Park.
Having tipped Epatanté for the Champion Hurdle on day one Stefan Fellows has cast his eye over all the runners and riders taking to the track on the second day of the most famous race meeting in the National Hunt calendar.
- Top 2 rated according to BHA ratings
- 1st or 2nd place finish last time out
- 2 or 3 starts over hurdles winning at least 50% of these races
- A good race for the Irish who have won 8 of the last 12 including 4 for Willie Mullins
Unbeaten in 7 starts including when winning last season’s festival bumper, it`s hard to pick fault in the form of Envoi Allen. There has been much talk about his possible race at this year’s festival and early talk of possibly heading for a tilt at the Champion Hurdle shows the regard in which this individual is held.
His profile matches well to past winners of this event and he looks a more than worthy favourite. In a race where it normally pays to focus on the market principals, Sporting John looks likely to be next best in the market and heads the English challenge.
Unbeaten in 3 starts over hurdles he stepped up on his previous 2 victories with an impressive victory at Ascot just 25 days ago. He jumped with particular fluency that day and the manner in which he travelled before quickening away from a couple of useful novices suggested better ground and a further step up in trip should suit.
He looks open to bags of improvement still and Phillip Hobbs does not have a bad record with his more fancied runners at the Festival. Of those at bigger prices The Big Breakaway is unbeaten in 2 hurdle starts to date lacks the experience of a few of these and has been of the track longer than ideal, he looks more of a long-term project.
The Big Getaway had some decent bumper form including just being beaten by Fiddlerontheroof on debut. A wide margin winner at Naas over hurdles in January he looks progressive and has to be respected given the trainers recent record in this race.
Selection: Sporting John
- Contested a Graded Chase
- 7-year olds have a strong record in recent years
- Ran at last year’s Festival particular in the Albert Bartlett
- Flogas Novice Chase Leopardstown Easy Game
- Between them Barry Geraghty and Davy Russell have won 5 of last 10 renewals
Champ will be looking to improve on his 2nd place finish at last season’s festival. Unbeaten in his first 2 starts over fences he was a faller 2 out here in January when looking the likely winner.
His jumping which has not always been accurate has to be a concern and despite looking the class horse in the field he can be opposed at short enough odds. There was little between the 2 Willie Mullins trained runners Allaho and Easy Game, when they finished 1-2 at Leopardstown in December.
With the latter having to prove himself at Cheltenham and over this trip Allaho looks the safer option of the pair on this occasion. Last season`s Albert Bartlett third was a wide margin winner of a beginners Chase at Fairyhouse on his latest start.
That was just his second start over the larger obstacles and while he is open to improvement I just worry about his lack of experience. Similar comments apply to last season’s Albert Bartlett Minella Indo who again has just the 2 beginners chase starts under his belt.
He looks a bit short for one who has not seen the demands of a competitive Chase yet. Battleoverdoyen was a disappointing favourite in last season’s Ballymore when not handling the Cheltenham experience.
Despite making a good start to his chase career winning his first 3 starts, he was a faller last time out at Leopardstown when looking beaten at the time. That`s not an ideal preparation and there was talk about bypassing Cheltenham.
He comes with risks but that is compensated for in his price and makes most appeal of the bigger priced runners. Colin Tizzard`s Copperhead has gone but improve this season since sent chasing. A winner of his last 3 starts it was his latest effort when an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Reynoldstown which suggested he was a serious contender for this race.
Whilst he lacks festival experience, he is a straight forward type who has proven himself adaptable to a variety of conditions and is expected to take plenty of beating.
Selections: Copperhead, Battleoverdoyen
- 2nd season hurdlers
- Rated 143+ and top 8 in the weights
- No more than 4 hurdle runs this season and 10 in total
- Not ran within the last 24 days
- Ran in the Betfair or Boylesports Hurdle
Nicky Henderson has won 3 of the last 10 in a race where it tends to focus on the major stables
Just the 28 runners to try and make sense off here so we will look to the trends to try to narrow the field down. Franco De Port and Birchdale both lack experience for a race of this nature and despite coming from top yards I`d be happy to let them win.
Protektorat is another near the front of the market, this previous course winner has form has past festival form and experience in large field, there is no reason not to expect a good showing but I just get the impression the handicap now has his level.
Of the market leaders Dame De Compagnie is the one who I favour the most. With just the 6 runs this lightly raced mare could still have plenty more improvement in here for last year’s winning trainer Nicky Henderson. JP Mc Manus likes to aim a few at this race and she looks to have been set aside for this after her impressive victory here last time.
Another coming from an owner who has had success in this race in the past is Stratum. The Willie Mullins trained runner was a winner of the Cesarewitch back on the flat last autumn so is no stranger to a large field handicap.
He will need to improve on his 1 run over hurdles this winter but he has an interesting profile and looks to have had this race in mind. Another interesting runner from the Mullins camp is Eglantine Du Seuil.
A winner of last year’s Mares Novice Hurdle she already has a festival win to her name. She showed up well last time out at Leopardstown in what is always strong handicap form and the step up in trip today should see her go well.
Selections: Eglantine Du Seuil, Dame De Compagnie, Stratum
- Only 1 Irish trained winner in recent years
- Previously won at a Cheltenham Festival
Key Races Tingle Creek Sandown 12 of the last 19 winners, 2020 winner Defi Du Seuil
Despite the unfortunate late withdrawal of Altior, the stage is still set for a couple of high class 2 mile chasers to do battle.
Chacun Pour Soi put in an impressive performance when beating Min last time out. This lightly raced chaser could still have plenty more to offer but he has to prove himself around the undulations of Cheltenham.
Dual festival winner Defi Du Seuil finished behind the Willie Mullins trained runner last season at Punchestown but that was after a busy season and is expected to reverse that form back on home soil.
Unbeaten on his 3 starts this year he has done nothing but improve since beating Lostintranslation in last season’s JLT and looks the one to beat with risks about both his main market rivals.
Of the rest despite having a bit to find on the ratings it would be no surprise to see Dynamite Dollars take another step forward from his promising reappearance run after a long layoff recently. His novice chase season was cut short due to injury when a leading fancy for that seasons Arkle and Paul Nicholls has trained many a top class 2-mile chaser.
Selection: Defi Du Seuil
- Aged between 8-10
- Has experience in a Graded Chase
- Previous cross-country experience
- Cheltenham December Cross Country Race
- Irish have dominated in recent years winning 13 of the last 15
All eyes will be on Grand National hero Tiger Roll in his bid for his third successive win in this race on route to trying to complete the hat-trick at Aintree. He made a promising enough return to the track last month in the same event as the previous season and is the one they all have to beat.
Easyland was a CD winner back in December and being a 6-year-old should be open to improvement over the banks still. That was an impressive win but he needs to take another step forward at level weights and looks short enough.
Urgent De Gregaine chased Tiger Roll home in last season race and makes most appeal of those at bigger prices. He finished behind Diesel D`Allier when last seen here in November but I`d expect that form to be reversed on these more favourable terms and he makes place appeal.
Selections: Tiger Roll, Urgent De Gregaine (Betting without fav or place markets)
- First or unplaced in last start
- Last run not in a handicap and may have been against older horse
- No more than 3 runs over Hurdles
- Ran in the Adonis at Kempton or Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown
- Gordon Elliot and Paul Nicholls have both won the race twice in the last 7 years
The JP Mc Manus owned pair of Aramax & Mick Pastor look likely to head the market. Both represent top previous winning yards of this race however they both have plenty of weight for what we have seen so far and I’m happy to look elsewhere.
Thyme White looks of more interest from the Paul Nicholls yard. Beaten a distance in by leading Triumph hope Goshen on his debut in this country. He looks to be steadily improving and he put up a good performance when winning a listed event at Musselburgh recently. He looks just the type who could be well suited coming off a fast pace and I get the impression any drying of the ground would be in his favour.
Tronador looks another interesting type from the Elliot yard only a 60 rated flat horse he has shown some promise on all 3 of his hurdles starts to date, winning on one occasion at Thurles and made eye-catching late headway in his other races. He looks on a fair enough mark based on those runs and its interesting the blinkers which he wore on the flat previously are used again for this handicap debut.
Of the others well Fraser Island represents a previous winning trainer/jockey combination. Decent form on the level rated 83 at his peak he made a winning debut over hurdles at Newbury in December before posted another solid effort at Kempton under a penalty.
His most recent outing at Plumpton was a shade disappointing but that was against older horses on very deep ground and the winner that day looks a useful type. Back against his own age group and on hopefully a better surface he is another who has an appealing profile.
Selections: Tronador, Fraser Island, Thyme White
- Won last time out and never finished out the first 3
- Last 11 winners all been off the track for 32 days or more
- Made their debut under rules in Ireland
- Gordon Elliot has won 2 of the last 3, Willie Mullins always holds a strong hand.
Appreciate It looks likely to be a short price to record another success in the race for trainer Willie Mullins. Always carrying a big reputation, he has won 2 of his 3 bumper runs in convincing fashion. The price, however, has long gone and with a lack of experience in a large field counting against him, I would prefer to look elsewhere.
Gordon Elliot runs 3 and looks to have strong chance of taking the prize again this year Queens Brook was an impressive 21 length winner on debut in a large field at Gowran Park 25 days. Improvement can be expected from that initial experience and with mares doing well in this race recently she looks to hold good claims.
Elliot has another mare in the line-up with the Giggnstown runner Darling Daughter. Unbeaten in her 2 starts in bumpers under Lisa O`Neill she stayed on well to win a valuable mare’s bumper at Leopardstown`s Dublin Festival.
That form looks pretty solid and she looks a fair price. Another to consider at decent odds is Julies Stowaway, he finished 2nd on his first 2 starts under rules but a change to front running tactics last time out looked to suit.
He was headed on a couple of occasions that day before battling back and outstaying his rivals. If similar tactics are used today it would not be a surprise to him relish the stamina test and prove hard to pass.
Of the English runners Israel Champ looks the most likely winner for the Pipe yard but I expect the prize to be going back to Ireland once again.
Selections: Queens Brook, Darling Daughter, Julies Stowaway
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