Posted on 14 March 2018.
Our trading team were a bit ‘sore’ after yesterday’s results, but we managed to squeeze their views on today out of them!
Please note prices are subject to change, and to bet at Cheltenham on day 2 please click here.
Race 1 1.30pm Ballymore Novice Hurdle
Owner Michael O’Leary may not believe that Samcro (8/11) is the second coming but he may change his mind if he wins this. Already touted as a potential Gold Cup horse Samcro has 6 wins from 6 racecourse starts with 3 of those coming over hurdles this season. The last of those came over 2m as connections were concerned about the tough going at Leopardstown, so with heavy ground likely at Cheltenham could Samcro lose his unbeaten record? Leading the challengers is the Mullins trained Next Destination (4/1). Also unbeaten over hurdles this season including a Grade 1 last time out and with a 4th place effort in last season’s Champion Bumper providing a piece of course form that Samcro is lacking this may be one of the clashes of the week. Mullins also trains Duc Des Genievres (12/1) but although he has put in a couple of nice placed efforts so far this season, he has been behind Samcro and Next Destination on each occasion so Black Op (9/1) the mount of Noel Fehily may provide the each way value.
Race 2 2.10pm RSA Novice Chase
Seen as the Gold Cup for novices the RSA Chase is usually a war of attrition as the top novices from both sides of the Irish Sea clash over a stamina testing extended 3m. Presenting Percy (5/2) and Monalee (7/2) head the betting and lead the Irish challenge on the race for lesser known trainers Pat Kelly and Henry De Bromhead and both have previous festival form as well as some excellent chase efforts over the winter most notably from Monalee winning the grade 1 Flogas Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival after a bad fall over Christmas. In behind Monalee that day were Al Boum Photo 7/1 (Willie Mullins) and Dounikos 8/1 (Gordon Elliott) and although they both line up in opposition again it would be tough to fancy their chances. The biggest challenger may come from former champion trainer Paul Nicholls and his horse, Black Corton 6/1. Part owned by Daytime TV’s Jeremy Kyle, Black Corton began his season in a low grade event at Worcester in July and has put together a remarkable run of winning 7 of his 8 chase starts this season including a grade 1 at Kempton on Boxing Day. Paired with the jockey of the moment Bryony Frost connections will be hoping for a win for the girls!
Race 4 3.30pm Queen Mother Champion Chase
Although the Gold Cup may be the festival’s main race, the winner of this race can arguably be considered as the best horse in any year. Past winners such as Moscow Flyer and Sprinter Sacre will be remembered as legends of horse racing and the lineup this year could well produce a winner that is up to that level. Favourite for the race is last years Arkle Chase winner Altior (11/10), any concerns about a recent wind op were blown away at Newbury on his seasonal return last month and he would have been considered a festival banker for Nicky Henderson although news of an injury concern on Monday may have dampened enthusiasm the expectation is he will still line up at 100% fitness. Ruby Walsh had the unenviable task of having to choose whether to ride Douvan (7/2)or Min (3/1) for owner Rich Ricci. Trainer Willie Mullins suggested that Min had been working the better of the two however Ruby sided with 2015 Arkle winner Douvan and it’s not difficult to see why. Douvan was exceptional last season and went off a 1/4 fav for the race last year only for injury to strike as he picked up a hip fracture in the race. Min had injury concerns last year but is very much this season’s horse winning a grade 1 last time gaining revenge for losing his race at Christmas in the stewards room. At current prices though it may be sensible to disagree with Mr Walsh and have a bet on Min.
Best Of The Rest
The Cross Country Chase may not be to the liking of racing purists but try telling that to Gordon Elliott as he saddles 3 leading chances to win the race that goes over banks, ditches, rails and cheese wedges! Leading the charge is defending champion Cause Of Causes (3/1) for owner JP McManusand the horse is looking to win a race for the 4th year running under the guidance of leading amateurJamie Codd. Tiger Roll (11/2) was also a winner at last years festival and although he is a newcomer in this discipline Elliott will have put plenty of work into getting his runner ready and he should go close.The Last Samuri (9/2) may be the best runner in the field but is a complete novice at banks races and the unique nature of the course means he can’t be considered a serious contender.
The last race on the card is the Champion Bumper as National Hunt horses of the future are tested over a flat 2m on the old course. Willie Mullins has a strong hand in this race in most years and heads the field with 5 runners including favourite Blackbow (5/1) ridden buy his son Patrick. This isn’t a race that Gigginstown or Gordon Elliott usually target so it has to be noted that Felix Desjy (15/2) is entered here and the Down Royal winner deserves serious consideration under Davy Russell.