Day one saw the queen of jump racing Honeysuckle win her fifteenth race in a row as well as her second consecutive champion hurdles! Constitution hill was quite something in the supreme setting a new course record. The brits go into day two 4-3 up in the Prestbury cup so patriots will be hopeful. Day Two sees round two of Shiskin vs Energumene in the Champion Chase as well as the last dance for duel grand national winner Tiger Roll!
1:30 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1
SIR GERHARD (8/13) is the main talking point of the race here after his unbeaten run over hurdles so far this year. He has done nothing wrong, and Willie had the choice of this or the supreme and he’s gone for the longer trip, so you’d have to be confident.
THREE STRIPE LIFE (11/2) was second to Sir Gerhard at the Dublin racing festival and there is no apparent reason why he would be able to turn that around all be it he is bred to stay further then the favourite.
JOURNEY WITH ME (6/1) looked like a proper stayer when winning last time out at Naas and you’d think they’d go a better gallop here than they did that day which should suit. Henry De Bromhead trained the winner of this last year for the same colours so will be hoping to go in again.
STAGE STAR (8/1) couldn’t of been a more impressive winner of the challow hurdle at Newbury and he has done nothing wrong all year. I think he could be the one to chase Sir Gerhard home.
I AM MAXIMUS (18/1) is a shock entry to most after it was thought he’d go to the coral cup of a handy mark of 134. Nicky is in flying form and the quicker the ground the better.
WHATDEAWANT (22/1) would be hoping to give the owners a winner of the race in which they sponsor.
SCARFACE (66/1), HAXO (100/1) & HEMLOCK conclude the field in the opener on day two!
2:10 – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
BRAVEMANSGAME (11/4) is a huge price in my opinion. He’s the best jumper in trainer let alone in novice company and the way he won at Kempton which he then backed up off top weight in a good handicap at Newbury really does show his ability. Many say he doesn’t like Cheltenham however I don’t think it’s fair to judge him on his run in the Ballymore last year. He was simply done for toe by a speedier horse in Bob Olinger and look at what he’s gone onto achieve now!
L’HOMME PRESSE (3/1) will be hoping to give Venetia Williams a winner at this year’s festival. His jumping was quick at Sandown however I’m not sure he’s been crying out for this step up in trip as he looks to be a speedier type rather than a stayer.
CAPODANNO (6/1) has been very well backed this week for owner JP McManus. He unseated early on last time so it’s an unknown to how much ability he has but he seems a progressive enough type and he made Bob Olinger work for his win at Punchestown.
AHOY SENOR (13/2) didn’t seem to be suited by the track at Kempton and he bounced back well last time at Wetherby. However, he seemed to jump out to his right that day and if he were to that again it would be of definite concern.
BEACON EDGE (10/1) will enjoy the return to a quicker surface and has gone well here before so would have to have a chance.
FAROUK D’ALENE (12/1) got the better of Beacon Edge last time however he was receiving a bundle of weight. He also looks as if a right handed track would be better suited.
GAILLARD DU MESNIL (12/1) has been nothing but disappointing since switching to fences and this could well be his last chance chasing before they send him back over hurdles.
FURY ROAD (14/1) was an impressive winner of the Nevills Hotel novices chase at Leopardstown however he failed to show the same zest when coming up short at the Dublin racing festival. His one run at Cheltenham so far in his career he was pulled up so there could also be question marks over the track.
THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE (16/1) deserves his place in the race winning his last four starts. Albeit they have all been small runner fields and the form doesn’t hold much substance, but you’ve still got to win the races and that he has.
DUSART (25/1) & STREETS OF DOYEN (100/1) are the remaining two in the field.
3:30 – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)
SHISKIN (8/11) has been nothing but superb winning all of his races so far this season. His jumping has been little bit iffy and can often race behind the bridle however the way in which he finishes his races is just breath taking. I think Cheltenham is his ideal track and that would just enhance his chances even more.
ENERGUMENE (10/3) second to Shiskin at Ascot last time out. He got his own way out in front that day going right handed which he would prefer and still wasn’t able to beat Shiskin after he made a few mistakes. I think the conditions completely swing into Shiskins favour and Paul will have to do something spectacular on him to run that form around.
CHACUN POUR SOI (13/2) had his chance to win this last year and wasn’t good enough. This is a much deeper race and he hasn’t been faultless this term and I can’t see him competing with the front two when push comes to shove.
NUBE NEGRA (14/1) is interesting here for me. Second in the race last year after being impeded on the run in to then fly home late. He loves going to races fresh and he’ll sit out the back and let the big boys pile the pace on and be running on strongly late on. He is a very strong traveller.
ENVOI ALLEN (16/1) returns to the track in which he seemed to lose his way last year. That fall he had in the marsh really put a sting on his confidence however he battled well to win last time. He didn’t look like he had the speed for a champion chase however he’s had a wind op and that might do the trick.
PUT THE KETTLE ON (28/1) was the winner of this race last year however she’s been nowhere near her best at all this season and will be hoping the application of first time cheekpieces can sharpen her up.
FUNAMBULE SIVOLA (33/1) was a good winner of the game spirit however that was a weak enough grade two and will have to come on leaps and bounds.
Politologue (80/1) hasn’t been seen since November however trainer Paul Nicholls has said he’s working well at home.
4:10 – Glenfarclas Chase (A Cross Country Chase) (GBB Race) (Class 2)
Just going to keep this short and sweet here TIGER ROLL (13/8) is a five time winner at the Cheltenham festival and is going to be retired at the end of the race. The quicker the ground the better for him so hopefully the rain stays away during the day. He loves it round this track and was run away winner last year and I see no reason why he can’t do the same again here. There’s no doubt he will get the biggest reception of the week if the dual grand national winner returns to the winner’s enclosure on his last dance.
DELTA WORK (6/1) & SHADY OPERATOR (10/1) would rate as his biggest dangers in my opinion.
5:30 – Wetherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) (Grade 1)
FACILE VEGA (13/8) seems to be a very solid favourite for this however only one of the last ten favs have won this race Willie Mullins saddles seven! Don’t get me wrong he’s been ever so good on the eye in his races so far but he’s just too short to be ploughing in.
AMERICAN MIKE (11/4) would be my pick here. He won two bumpers in good style before Gordon put him away and has just been prepping him for this. They seem to absolutely love him, and Jamie Codd couldn’t have been more bullish on his chances. His times have been very impressive, and he travels well. I don’t think the disparity in the market between him and Facile Vega should be as big.
REDEMPTION DAY (7/1) seems to be he clear Mullins second string. He is a monster of a horse and was very good on his only start to date!
1:30 – Sir Gerhard 8/13 / Stage Star 8/1 ew
2:10 – Bravemansgame 11/4
2:50 – Camprond 7/1 ew & Indigo Breeze 16/1 ew
3:30 – Shiskin 5/6 & Nube Negra 14/1 ew
4:10 – Tiger Roll 7/4
4:50 – Buddy Rich 8/1 ew & Amarillo Sky 8/1 ew
5:30 – American Mike 11/4