Horse Racing

Altior Or Bust: Your Guide And Tips For Cheltenham Day Two

Altior Or Bust: Your Guide And Tips For Cheltenham Day Two
Well, that was dramatic. Ultimately, though, it was a day that say bookmakers hobbling out the gates of Prestbury Park with heavy pockets.
If seeing neither Apple's Jade, Buveur D'Air nor Laurina finish in the frame wasn't bad enough, it was followed with the Festival banker of many, Benie Des Dieux falling at the last with the winning post in sight.
But when looking back on the day, the real lovers of the sport won't worry too much about being hit in the pocket, for Day One, as is always the case, delivered. Big stars may have failed to shine, but new ones emerged.
Among the day's best stories was first-time Festival winners for Irish jockeys Mark Walsh and Rachel Blackmore, while the finish to the final race of the day between Le Breuil and Discorama was electrifying. It was a day when Gavin Cromwell, once a farrier by trade to Gordon Elliot, became noticed by those outside the regular racegoers and, most importantly of all, it was a day the Irish narrowly finished ahead of their counterparts. The Irish still rule Cheltenham, for the time being.
Advertisement
Best of all, we're only quarter of the way there. Today offers punters with another shot of wiping the grins from the face of bookmakers. Unlike yesterday, many of the races today look a little more straight forward, though that can be a dangerous angle to take.
Talents on show today include the current Aintree Grand National winner, an Irish St Leger winner on the flat and the best horse in training who looks unbeatable in the day's main event.

1.30: Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

Advertisement

Cheltenham

This is yet another wide open race, with no horse in particular boasting a daunting record.
Battleoverdoyen and Sam's Profile went head-to-head in a Grade One at Naas back in January, with the former getting past the post to maintain a flawless record on that occasion, but Sam's Profile was hampered during the race. The Gordon Elliott-trained horse is also unproven in conditions as tough as these, however, unlike the Mouse Morris-trained horse and the Fethard trainer is always one to keep an eye on when bringing a horse over for to the Festival.
City Island is also proven in similar conditions to today's after hacking up to win a maiden hurdle at last year's Galway Festival, though he was subsequently disqualified for containing traces of arsenic in his system. On that day the Martin Brasill gelding breezed past Getareason up the hill at Galway, which could be argued replicates the famous Cheltenham hill, and while Easy Game and Battleoverdoyen can boast similar victories over Getareason, the fashion and conditions in which City Island did it makes him of more interest.
Advertisement
Meanwhile, Champ - owned by JP McManus and named after Tony McCoy - will have the weight of expectation on him, coming into the race off the back of four successive wins, but the form from those races, it turns out, hasn't been staggering so this will be his toughest test yet. Should City Island, who hasn't lost since his debut, run to his potential Mark Walsh, high off the adrenaline of yesterday's Champion Hurdle win, could be dismounting in the winners' enclosure again.

2.10: RSA Insurance Novices' Chase

After finishing Day One without a win, it doesn't look like Gordon Elliott will have to wait long for a winner with one of his stable's biggest stars taking to the turf in this one. Delta Work has been flawless since going over fences, although he hasn't jumped fences on soft ground yet. Nevertheless, he won the Pertemps Final at the Festival last year on soft ground so he should relish the conditions.
Advertisement

Cheltenham

Winning the Pertemps, it turns out, is solid form coming into the RSA after Presenting Percy, the Gold Cup favourite, won last year's renewal of the race after winning the handicap hurdle the year previous. But, as we learned yesterday, anything can happen at Cheltenham and if there is to be an upset it's likely to come from either Topofthegame, last year's Coral Cup runner-up off top-weight, or Santini, a Grade One winner at Aintree and a Grade Two winner on heavy ground at this track.
The Worlds End may be worth a look at at long odds and may have each-way claims. He won impressively by 26 lengths on this course back in December, though it was on good ground and may have been off his best when finishing well back in a Grade One contest with Topofthegame and Santini at Kempton Park on St Stephen's Day. All in all, it's Delta Work's to lose and we could be in for one of the best individual performances of the week.
Advertisement

2.50: Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

Willie Mullins has an impressive arsenal here, with last year's winner one of a number from the Irish champion trainer catching the eye. Bleu Berry, although up in the ratings, will have no problem on soft ground having won the race in the same conditions last year. In such a fiercely competitive handicap, managing the ground will play a deciding factor and Uradel, sneaking in at the bottom of the ratings, has won on this ground before and is Ruby Walsh's pick.
Killultagh Vic is another that demands respect, having won on heavy ground before and having chased Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy home in third on his last run. He is running off top weight, though, and 10-year-olds have quite the poor record in this event.
Advertisement
Brio Conti is near the head of the betting after a solid win at Ascot in February, but he goes up five pounds from that win while Ballyandy, fourth place from the same race, hasn't changed from his mark and will relish the conditions. The Nigel Twiston-Davies runner hasn't ran at the Festival since coming fourth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2017 and seems to be far more comfortable, after a year chasing, back hurdling this season. At around 20-1 he's an eye-catching each-way punt more than capable of delivering his trainer a first win in the race on his day.

3.30: Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

Cheltenham

Advertisement
On paper this is all but done and dusted. Altior, the best horse in training, has a intimidating resume. The Nicky Henderson-trained runner is bidding to win back-to-back wins in this race, and a fourth in total at the Festival. The race itself isn't very interesting since the majority of Altior's biggest threats have avoided him and headed towards the Ryanair Chase tomorrow instead.
But while the horse is an unbeaten chaser, this is Cheltenham and it is National Hunt racing. He still has two miles in front of him and a lot can happen between the moment the flag drops and the winning post.
Min is considered the champion's biggest threat but at the current odds it's hard to fancy Ruby Walsh's ride unless in a forecast with the favourite. Politologue, on the other hand, beat Min in a Grade One on soft ground at Aintree last season, before finishing fourth in the King George at Christmas. His may not be terribly exciting prospect but Paul Nicholls' horses are in top form and in a race many of the big guns have avoided he could well run into the money.
Advertisement
The same could be said about Saint Calvados, a horse with the experience of running against the best. His current odds of 40/1 could tempt you into a little flutter each-way.
But even a odds-on Altior represents good value and anything but a comprehensive victory would be a shock.

4.20: Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

Advertisement

Cheltenham

After a woeful day for punting on Tuesday, Tiger Roll, another banker for many, could finally get punters back on terms with the bookies if the aforementioned Delta Work and Altior also deliver on their promise. The Aintree Grand National winner isn't the biggest horse but he is a warrior, winning this race last year in style.
Some may be concerned with his form on the course this year after finishing behind rivals Josies Orders, Fact Of The Matter and Jarob, but there were excuses for the eight-year-old. That was in a handicap where he was running off top-weight and he had a similar result in the same race the year previous before bombing up the hill in March.
The Enda Bolger duo of Auvergnat and Josies Orders cannot be ignored considering the trainer's reputation in the race while Colin Tizzard's yard are very bullish about Ultragold after schooling him on the cross country course a couple of weeks ago. But if Tiger Roll gets around safely, it's hard to see anything else getting in front of him.
Advertisement
Tea For Two, a Grade One winner and a past runner in the Gold Cup, is another interesting entry, but his form this year has been far from compelling and would need a serious improvement to pose any threat to the star from Cullentra House yard.

4.50: Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

With an impressive array of juveniles, Joseph O'Brien deserves respect though the ground may prove difficult for his heavily-fancied Band Of Outlaws. And while he did win at Limerick - ahead of Fine Brunello - on St Stephen's Day when there was plenty of ease in the ground, Cheltenham is a different animal.
Advertisement
Gordon Elliott's Lethal Steps is another one heavily-fancied and one the stable is apparently very sweet on, but with ground unlikely to get any quicker, Praceps is the one catching the eye at 22-1.
Having got in at the bottom of the ratings, off a rating of 129, trainer Alan King sees the his four-year-old as one of his best shots of the week. He hasn't come up against ground as testing as this as of yet but King maintains he could be suited to it, meaning we may well witness his best performance to date today.
Jessica Harrington's Got Trumped is another of note, having proved to have been out of his depth in a Grade One on his last outing. Dropping into handicap company for the first time, on what could be a very lenient mark if managing the conditions, he is certainly worth an each-way bet.
Advertisement
Given the race has thrown up so many long-odds surprises over the years, Praceps could be the big surprise of the day.

5.30: Weatherbys Champion Bumper

Cheltenham

Advertisement
Having won the race a record nine times in total, Willie Mullins naturally trains one of the front-runners here in Blue Sari. Four-year-olds, however, have a poor enough record in the race and while he has a win under his belt he has only raced once and the form of that race hasn't turned out to be very strong.
But having hardly put a hoof wrong in his career to date, Envoi Allen, bought for a staggering £400,000, isn't easily opposed. He could have probably finished further clear on his last outing at Leopardstown but still did more than enough to finish ahead of Meticulous, another interest runner in this race.
Interestingly, the Joseph O'Brien-trained Meticulous is being ridden by his brother Donnacha who will be attempting to become the first flat jockey since Jamie Spencer in 2002 to win this event. Overturning his fortunes with the Gordon Elliott gelding, however, will be a tough ask in these testing conditions. Abacadabras, also trained by Elliott, was also in that race at Leopardstown and was running well just behind his stablemate when running out over the rail coming up towards the line, but there was still a sense that Envoi Allen had more in the tank and had been given a safe ride by JJ Codd.
Advertisement
Master Debonair, ridden by Robbie Power, is probably the best chance of an English win and given the unpredictable nature of the race he represents a decent each-way bet.

Selections:

1.30: City Island 15/2 (EW)

2.10: Delta Work 9/4 (NAP)

2.50: Ballyandy 20/1 (EW) (nb)

3.30: Altior 4/9

4.10: Tiger Roll 11/8

4.50: Praceps 22/1 (EW)

5.30: Envoi Allen 4/1

Aonghus Ó Maicín

You may also like