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.
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, 10 of the last 12 winners
- 1st or 2nd place finish last time out, All the last 11 winners.
- 2 or 3 starts over hurdles winning at least 50% of these races
- The last eleven winners had all won at least one bumper
- All 17 Challow winners to run didn’t win but 6 from the last 7 to try were placed.
- A good race for the Irish who have won 9 of the last 13 including 4 for Willie Mullins
Bravemansgame looks the best of the home challenge here. The Paul Nicholls runner has progressed well this season winning 3 of his last 4 starts including the Challow hurdle last time out.
His claims look obvious under conditions that should suit but I just worry he is still more of long-term type than a couple in this and I would just question the strength of form in relation to the Irish challenge.
The vibes have been strong for Bob Olinger in the last couple of weeks which is no surprise given his win last time out at Naas when beating Blue Lord. He seemed to be well on top of the finish that day and looks the type who will be a better horse as off a stronger pace.
Gaillard Du Mesnil is next best of the Irish challenge according to the market. Visually I thought there was a lot to like about his performance at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival. He`s a good moving type who should be suited by underfoot conditions and represents top connections so has a lot to like about his chances.
In a race though where I`m struggling to split the challenge of Mullins, De Bromhead I`m happy to take a chance on Keskonrisk at a likely double figure price.
The Joseph O`Brien trained runner has only been seen twice over hurdles and 3 times in total so we can expect plenty more improvement still. He wasn’t beaten far when finishing 3rd in the Future Champions novice at Leopardstown when last seen.
A good moving type suggests drying ground will suit and the way he ran on at the one pace last time against top quality horses is a good sign for him being well suited by the extra yardage here.
Selection: Gaillard Du Mesnil
Each Way: Keskonrisk
13.55 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (Registered As The Broadway Novices’ Chase)
- Contested a Graded Chase, last 19 winners
- 7-year olds have a strong record in recent years, 11 of the last 14
- Ran at last year’s Festival particular in the Albert Bartlett
- Rated 150+
- Flogas Novice Chase Leopardstown 4 of the last 12 winners. Winner Monkfish
- Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls have won 10 of the last 17 between them
Monkfish looks like banker material here on day 2 of the festival. Last season’s Albert Bartlett winner has taken the switch to larger obstacles in his stride and is unbeaten in 3 starts this season.
He won the ideal prep race for this last time in the shape of the Flogas chase and that form leaves the others in the field with plenty to find. He’s a good fit to the profile of past winners and looks rock-solid overall.
Of the rest, the one who I’m happy to take a chance on at the prices in the various without the favourite markets would be Dickie Diver.
He does have a fair bit to find on official ratings but his mark probably currently underestimates his ability somewhat and with connections also having Sporting John in the field I find it an interesting move to let him take his chances here.
The son of Gold Well has only had the 4 starts to date but did manage to finish 4th not beaten far in the Albert Bartlett 2 seasons ago. He ran a promising enough race 78 days ago on his debut over the larger obstacles suggesting he will be better for the run and a step up in trip.
His trainer Nicky Henderson is a master at bringing these types back to the course to show their best and he has the potential to go well at nice odds.
Each Way: Dickie Diver
- 2nd season hurdlers, 11 of the last 16
- Rated 143+ and top 8 in the weights
- No more than 4 hurdle runs this season and 10 in total, 17 of the last 20
- Not ran within the last 24 days
- Ran in the Betfair or Boylesports Hurdle
- Nicky Henderson has won 4 of the last 11 in a race where it tends to focus on the major stables
Grand Roi has been well found in the market here and it’s no surprise given connections and the profile of this horse stepping up in trip on handicap debut. He’s a grade 2 winner over shorter and looks to hold obvious claims.
The other Irish runner towards the head of the market is Koshari. He looked a suitable type for this when winning at Cork after a lengthy absence. Things did not go right for him at Leopardstown last time but he can probably be forgiven that effort although looks short enough now.
Willie Mullins is also represented at much bigger odds with Sayo he has a patchy record over the last couple of seasons but most of those efforts have come on what I believe to be unsuitable soft conditions.
He’s run well at the festival as a juvenile and he travelled up well enough in this race last season before weakening out of things late on, again I put this down to the underfoot conditions. It would not surprise me to see a very different horse back on a sounder surface and if that’s the case he looks on a more than fair mark.
Nicky Henderson`s runners always have to be respected in this and whilst Monte Cristo is an intriguing runner having looked to have been saved for this, the one however I prefer the chances of is Birchdale.
Things didn’t really go to plan for him over fences and it looks a shrewd move by connections to revert back to hurdles after a recent spin in a jumper bumper last month. He could only manage a mid-field finish in this race last season of a 2lb higher mark but he makes more appeal this time around on drying ground.
Despite top weight in the field, a decent case can be made for thinking Thomas Darby still has the potential to run another solid race. He’s been running consistently well in graded company this season and may just find this type of large field handicap more suitable.
He’s another worth considering at a double-figure price.
Each Way: Sayo
15.05 Queen Mother Champion Chase
- Previously won at a Cheltenham Festival, last 12 winners all raced at course before
- Rated 159+, last 11 winners
- Aged between 7 to 9, 14 of the last 20
- 18 of the last 22 winners came from the top 3 in the betting
Key Races Tingle Creek Sandown 13 of the last 20 winners, 2021 winner Polotologue
- Nicky Henderson has won 5 of the last 9 thanks to his dual winners Sprinter Sacre and Only 1 Irish trained winner in that time period. Willie Mullins 0-10 Chacun Pour Soi
Chacun Pour Soi is trying to give champion trainer Willie Mullins his first success in the race and the horse himself also has to break a key stat himself with the last 12 winners all previously raced at the course.
That’s said, he’s 6 from 7 over fences and is the most likely winner on recent form. He’s short enough though against a field of this strength with 2 past winners of the race in the field and Arkle winner who is 3 from 3 herself here at Cheltenham.
This looks a much stronger renewal than the race in which Politoglogue was victorious last season. Again, he won a weak enough Tingle Creek on his reappearance this season before finishing behind the reopposing First Flow last time at Ascot.
There is a chance he can reverse that form back at Cheltenham and on a sounder surface but neither are expected to be good enough.
Nube Negra is no doubt still progressing but I’m not convinced this is the ideal test for him and I would prefer to have the Henry De Bromhead mare Put The Kettle On running for me.
Last season’s Arkle winner has rock-solid form claims and is also another who seems to be better on a sounder surface. With the late withdrawal of Altior the race potentially now has more of each way feel to it and another who I think is worth having on your side now back at Cheltenham and on a decent surface is Rouge Vif.
He was an impressive winner here in a handicap on his first start this season and whilst has a bit of work to do with a couple on his latest starts he should have the race ran to suit and these conditions look more to his liking.
Selection: Put The Kettle On
Each Way: Rouge Vif
15.40 Glenfarclas Chase (A Cross Country Chase)
- Aged between 8-10, 9 of the last 10 no older that 10,
- Has experience in a Graded Chase, 9 of the last 11
- Previous cross-country experience, 13 of the 16 ran on this course
- Cheltenham December Cross Country Race
- Irish have dominated in recent years winning 13 of the last 16
Last season’s 1-2 Easysland and Tiger Roll look the obvious ones here. The French runner being the younger of the 2 potentially has more to offer still but I’m concerned about his ability to show his best if the ground comes up as expected and he has to be taken on at the current odds.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that dual grand national winner is also a dual winner of this race and a 4 times Cheltenham Festival winner. It would be a fairy-tale story for him to win but he is now an 11-year-old and his last couple of efforts have been a tad below par for me.
Le Breuil is a past festival winner himself and this out-and-out stayer who has always shaped as if this type of extreme test should suit. The Ben Pauling runner is not proven on the course which is an obvious concern however he generally a good sound jumper and at the prices looks worth taking a risk with against a field who all have doubts of some sort.
Some Neck was a winner here back in December over course and distance, he should not mind the drying ground and has had a recent spin in preparation for this over hurdles 16 days ago. Richard Johnson takes over in the saddle and makes each-way appeal.
Selection: Le Breuil
Each Way: Some Neck
16.15 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
- Past festival form, 14 of the last 17 ran at a previous festival
- Novice or second season chaser, 9 of the last 12 winners
- Age between 6 or 9, 10 of the last 11
- A very unique test, 8 of the last 17 winners ran in the race the season before
- Irish trained record has improved in recent years, 4 of the last 8.
Somewhat of a specialist race and no doubt, this season’s renewal will be run at a frantic early pace. With that in mind it’s sometimes best to focus on the previous year’s form.
Chosen Mate was victorious on that occasion but has not really shown anything like that form since, that said he’s probably been laid out with a repeat success in mind and with his jockey claiming a valuable 7lbs is strictly speaking on a nice mark once more.
The Irish challenge looks a strong one once more with Joseph O Brien set to field 3 runners.
Us And Them has finished 2nd in Arkle in the past and was a good third in this race last season. He’s not shown much this since but back on a sounder surface and in this environment I can see him going close again.
Entoucas has a slightly different profile to his stablemate in being a more lightly raced progressive type, He’s been running consistently well in some decent handicaps this season and the drying ground again will be more to his liking based on what he showed over hurdles.
Theinval is another from last year’s renewal, he’s getting no younger so is vulnerable but it was a creditable 5th place finish last season, he’s a few lbs lower in the weights this season and didn’t have the clearest of trips last season.
Nicky Henderson’s runners always have to be respected in this and makes most appeal of those at larger odds to find the frame.
Each Way: Us And Them
16.50 Weatherby’s Champion Bumper
- Won last time out and never finished out the first 3
- Aged 5 or 6, 14 of the last 15 winners
- Had a recent run last month. 5 from 5
- Made their debut under rules in Ireland
- Ireland based runners, 21 of the last 28, 7 of the last 10 including 4 for Willie Mullins but not his most fancied in terms of market position.
Visually Kilcruit was super impressive at the Dublin Racing Festival and despite being a short enough price looks to have a lot going for him. We know Willie Mullins has an excellent record in the race for starters and he fits the profile of recent winners of the race.
His form stacks up best of anything in this and the son of Stowaway has the potential to be an even better horse on a better surface. I also like the fact that he returns to the track after a victory last month which looks to be a new trend emerging in this race.
Sir Gerhard has been switched to the Mullins yard recently and is unbeaten in two bumpers to date. He no doubt has more to offer but I just think his new stablemate will have been more impressive in his races to date and on a decent form line with the horses they have beaten should have the edge of the pair.
In a race the Irish challenge looks set to dominate once more, Three Stripe Life is another to consider on the back of his impressive debut performance at Navan.
That from has not really been franked since but he could not have been more impressive that day and appeals as the one most likely to step forward to challenge the front pair in the market.
Each Way: Three Stripe Life
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