Day 2 of the festival was another tremendous day for the county of Meath. Yet again, Tiger Roll roared up the Cheltenham hill to the applause over a joyous crowd. Skryne footballer Keith Donoghue recently returned from a facial injury and with this renewed his relationship with the mighty Tiger, who is one of the most successful horses to ever run at the festival.
Envoi Allen upheld his lofty reputation and delivered yet another Irish success in the Champion Bumper with Jamie Codd aboard. The Coddfather exuded confidence in his mount and his trust was rewarded. His post-race interview was something to behold and really shows what Cheltenham means to those deeply involved.
The mighty Altior decided to entertain the crowd with a more than interesting run but his class shone through and he retained his crown as Champion Chaser.
Ireland has supplied eight of the 14 festival winners to date and will likely deliver at least 15 winners over the course of the four days. Today’s racing revolves around the Ryanair and the Stayers’ Hurdle.
The mighty Faugheen the machine is vying to gain his third Cheltenham success. This would light up the festival and would make him the most loved Irish winner of the week.
2:10 - Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m7f213y
Handicap hurdles are always competitive affairs and none more so than the Pertemps.
Gordon Elliot’s charges are starting to fire and Sire Du Berlais may provide the Meath based trainer with back to back successes in this contest.
Philip Hobbs and Dickie Johnson team up with Samburu Shujaa, the pair also teamed up to land a significant gamble on the talented but injury-prone Fingal Bay in 2014. Samburu Shujaa’s preparation has been rather more straightforward and he looks to have a live chance.
Rachael Blackmore will be confident in her mount Cuneo whom she rides for Henry De Bromhead. Cuneo outgunned the Jessica Harrington-trained Walk to Freedom at Leopardstown over Christmas. The latter was staying on strongly at the line that day and will appreciate the overnight rain. Harrington is supremely confident in her talented eight-year-old and this has been the plan since the start of the season. Robbie Power will ride this one very patiently and will be staying on strongest at the finish.
4:50 - National Hunt Breeders Supported by Tattersalls Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m179y
Willie Mullins has dominated this race since its introduction in 2016. Limini, Let’s Dance and Laurina have lit up the festival with taking displays.
This year is considerably different as Nicky Henderson’s Epatante heads the field and this unexposed sort comes with a big reputation. After her last run, Henderson stated that he would win this race for the first time with this mare.
Mullins is represented by seven mares and a number of these look promising. Sancta Simona has some decent form in finishing second to Aramon who finished sixth in the supreme on Tuesday.
Ruby has chosen to ride My Sister Sarah who has been less than inspiring in her last few runs.
Henry De Bromhead trains Sinoria, this daughter of Oscar is a very tough mare who has continued to improve on each outing. Her defeat of subsequent Grade 2 winner Chosen Mate is amongst the strongest form on show. She has proven that she stays up to 2m 4f which will prove very beneficial in what will be a truly run race. Rachel Blackmore is certain to sit tight until the home bend, kick on and trust that her hardy mare can last home in front.
1.30 Voix Du Reve 11/1 EW
2.10 Walk to Freedom 16/1
2.50 Road to Respect 7/2
3.30 Faugheen 7/2
4.10 Didero Vallis 16/1 EW
4.50 Sinoria 7/1
5.30 Livelovelaugh 16/1 EW
Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile