There is no let up in excitement or quality on Ladies Day. The main event is the Queen Mother Champion Chase, which is always a spectacle as the best two-mile chasers in the land face off. Won by some of the greatest horses the sport has ever seen, this year features the mighty Altior regarded by many to be the best horse currently in training.
The day begins with the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle which is often won by a future superstar. The likes of Simonsig, The New One, Faugheen and Yorkhill have all triumphed since 2012. Last year’s Irish banker, Samcro, took the crown and although things haven’t worked out this season, it would be no surprise to see him go on to greater things.
Following the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is the RSA Chase; a race that often unearths future Gold Cup champions. Winners of this race who have gone on to excel in the blue ribbon event include Denman, Bobs Worth and Lord Windermere. Additionally, this year’s Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy romped home here in 2018.
The Cross Country might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it can provide valuable insight for the Grand National. Tiger Roll completed the double for Gordon Elliot last year and he is back to defend his crown.
The remaining three races provide some particularly challenging puzzles for punters to solve. The Coral Cup is tightly handicapped and a massive field, the Fred Winter is another handicap that often throws up a big price winner and finally, the day is rounded off by the highly competitive Champion Bumper.
Cheltenham Day Two Betting Tips And Schedule
13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – 2m5f
Despite being half a mile longer than the Supreme, the Ballymore traditionally requires a horse with speed rather than stamina, often producing future Champion Hurdle or Queen Mother runners. They don’t run at the same breakneck speed as they do in the two-miler, so a horse that can go through the gears up the hill is required. Champ is the rightful favourite, but it has been suggested that he’d be more suited to the test of a Supreme.
The form of his Challow Hurdle win at Newbury is working out well, but it’s the horse that finished fourth to him that catches our eye. They went at a crawl that day and Brewin’upastorm ended up making the running, which didn’t see him at his best. He had to do the same again at Cheltenham when falling at the last when he looked to have the better Birchdale. Trainer Olly Murphy, who has always though very highly of this 6-y-o, thinks he’ll be seen to much greater effect off a strong pace in a big field.
Did you know? 27 of the last 28 winners had had three or more runs over hurdles before.
14:10 RSA Novices’ Chase – 3m½f
This 3m½f chase is always a compelling race and provides good pointers for future Gold Cups. Santini heads the market but on evidence this season he looks to be a favourite worth taking on. He’s been a bit of a talking horse but flatters to deceive and came third behind La Bague Au Roi and Topofthegame on Boxing Day at Kempton. The latter should have probably won that race but was just pipped by the gutsy mare. Nicholls’ inmate looked the class horse and travelled beautifully throughout, and should in no way be double the price of Santini.
However, we think this race will go the way of the Irish. Gordon Elliot’s Delta Work is the only horse to beat Arkle favourite Le Richebourg over fences. He jumps well, and we know he stays and battles hard, having got up to win the Pertemps last year. Success here would see the 6-y-o follow in the footsteps of Presenting Percy who was also ridden by one of the best Cheltenham jockeys out there– Davy Russell.
Did you know? Eight of the last 12 winners had won at Cheltenham before.
14:50 Coral Cup Handicap – 2m5f
This Handicap is one of the most difficult races of the entire festival to pick a winner, with a maximum field of in-form runners all primed to claim this valuable race. Bleu Berry foiled the gamble on Topofthegame last year and the same connections have this year’s market leader, Uradel. However, no favourite has won this since Xenephon in 2003.
It’s difficult to form too strong an opinion at this stage, but Early Doors of Joseph O’Brien came third in the Martin Pipe 12 months ago and is only a pound higher this time around. Although well beaten, he’s twice shaped nicely behind Apples Jade in Grade 1s over the winter and has the potential to be well handicapped off a mark of 143.
Did you know? Of the 25 renewals, only three horses have won this race rated higher than 147.
15:30 Queen Mother Champion Chase – 2m
One of the most popular races of the festival, this year it’s all about Altior. At 2/5, the reigning champion is the shortest priced favourite of the festival and with good reason having gone unbeaten in 17 starts (12 from 12 over fences). He looked to be in trouble turning for home last year but powered up the hill to record a 7-length victory over Min. If anything, he seems to have improved this season with the pick of his performances defeating Un De Sceaux in the 11-y-o’s preferred soft conditions in the Tingle Creek.
We can’t see anything getting close to Nicky Henderson’s superstar so it’s a race to savour rather than have a bet on at this stage. Once the betting w/o market is available, Min would be the selection. The 8-y-o is a fantastic horse in his own right and would be a two-time Cheltenham winner if it weren’t for Altior and certainly looks the best of the rest in the 2m chase division.
Did you know? Nine of the last 10 Arkle winners who ran in the Champion Chase the following year finished placed or better.
16:10 Glenfarclas Cross country Chase – 3m6f
This is a unique novelty race run with cross-country specialists racing over a variety of different fences and obstacles at 3m6f (on the inner track). It’s an event the Irish dominate having won 12 of the last 14 editions and this year they have the top three in the market – Tiger Roll, Auvergnat and Josies Orders. The former was a popular victor last year and it’s difficult to look past the three-time festival winner as Gordon Elliot will have him primed for this.
However, at around Evens we’re happy to look for some each-way value elsewhere. Fact Of The Matter has really taken to the cross-country course and although he was getting weight from Josies Orders here back in December, the race he won can often be a good guide as it’s featured nine of the last 14 winners of this race.
Did you know? No horse younger than 8-y-o has won this race from its 14 runnings (only four younger than 9)
16:50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – 2m½f
Another troublesome puzzle for punters to try and decipher. With little evidence to go on, there are often some exceptionally well handicapped horses but the difficulty is finding them as the form of the 4-y-o juveniles from Britain and Ireland is very tough to get to grips with.
None of the 14 winners had won more than one race that season prior to winning this contest and six of the last seven winners had an sp of 25/1 or greater. At this stage, it is impossible to call, but on the day market movers can often be very revealing.
Did you know? Out of 14 renewals, 13 winning horses have been rated between 124 and 134
17:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Flat Race) – 2m½f
This Grade 1 National Hunt flat race is always an extremely open betting heat with only one of the last 12 favourites crossing the winning post first. Luck in running always plays a big part with so many inexperienced horses and it’s not a race we’d advise having a big bet on with so many unknowns. It’s traditionally dominated by the Irish (winning 18 of the 24 runnings) which was certainly the case last year with Willie Mullins landing a 1-2-3 – (25/1 shot Relegate wining) – and six of the first seven home were from Ireland.
Both Mullins and Gordon Elliot will no doubt throw plenty of darts in this year’s edition, with the latter’s Envoi Allen at the top of the market at 4/1. We’d be interested in stablemate Andy Dufresne if he turned up, but there are rumours he may well skip Cheltenham. JP McManus bought him for £300,000 and he looks like an exciting prospect for the future. This race often throws up a big price winner and Meticulous came second to Envoi Allen by just 1½L on his last appearance, yet is four times the price, which is our each-way selection.
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