Ceebee had a very good Tuesday with Roksana landing the 10/1 bet and Lakeview Lad placing at 25/1 - Read his thoughts on Day 2 below.
Day One recap – on what was generally a bloodbath for punters we came out +20pts. Yes it was fortunate with Roksana 10/1 in the mares hurdle but that’s racing and the hurdles are there to be jumped. She was in the right place to capitalise. Lake View Lad ran very well for 3rd at 25/1 in the Ultima and I thought for a moment we’d get the Forecast in the first but Aramon just wasn’t good enough on the soft ground. No complaints. Moving on…
Day Two – Wednesday
1.30 Ballymore Novice Hurdle
This is really tricky. Champ has reached a good level already winning a decent handicap and a G1, both at Newbury. Battleoverdoyen is unbeaten but the big fella may not appreciate this tight old course. Sam’s Profile won’t be far, if at all, behind him based on their Naas clash. And Easy Game has winning form in Ireland to match that pair.
Olly Murphy had two in the Supreme run very well and they rate Brewinupastorm even higher apparently. Beakstown was an impressive winner last time. There’s no way I could have a confident bet here. Head over to William Hill where they are offering 5 places for each-way punters. Champ is the pick. He was free in a slowly run Challow Hurdle and still won impressively. His equally impressive handicap win off 139 has worked out well enough – he certainly has the least to prove.
2.10 RSA Chase
Equally tricky but not as open. This looks to be between the top 3. Delta Work has been very good in Ireland but Topofthegame and Santini also have some high-quality form both over hurdles, here and in recent novice chases. Topofthegame can be a bit leary in front and I’m not sure he’s the dour staying type that will be required. Santini hasn’t had the best preparation but I think he’s the ideal strong staying type for this. A little below his best here 12mts ago the rest of his hurdles form is very good. At Kempton he finished off very strongly after getting done for pace around on good flat ground – nothing wrong with that – this Cheltenham is a very different test and he’ll love it.
Mullins started day one with a quick double. I’m backing Henderson to do the same 24hrs later.
1.5pt e/w double Champ 7/2, Santini 3/1 – 17/1 double, small profit if both place.
2.50 Coral Cup
26 runners and unsurprisingly I like about a dozen of them! Uradel is solid but far too short for what he has achieved. Calie du Mesnil ran well in a competitive handicap at Leopardstown last time and for a red-hot Mullins yard could run well at a big price. Previous Festival winner Tully East is handicapped to run well but won’t have appreciated the recent rain. Knight in Dubai is a big price for the Skelton team who are developing a habit of firing out Festival winners. Brio Conti apparently wasn’t half fit last time and Dancing on My Own is an unexposed novice so they both have clear chances too.
Wicklow Brave is my first and main pick. A previous Festival winner (2015 County Hurdle) he peaked as a 164 hurdler after winning the Punchestown G1 Champion Hurdle. Racing off 153 here shows he’s well in if near his best. And he may be – his latest effort was 2nd to none other than Espoir D’Allen – where Wicklow Brave actually received quite a negative ride. As a strong and high-class stayer on the flat the step up to 2m5f should suit (once he settles early).
My second bet is another previous Festival winner – Ballyandy (2016 Bumper & 4th in 2017 Supreme). He was rated 147 when running in that Supreme and since lost his way a little over fences before coming back to form this season. As a result, he’s now rated just 148. On his first hurdles start in 18mts he was a decent 4th at Kempton (winner won since) then followed up with a win at Uttoxeter (2nd & 4th placed since). On his most recent effort he travelled really well but hit the front too soon at Sandown and was ran down after the last by Brio Conti (strong form as the Imperial Cup winner was 4th). Now he has a 5lb swing with Brio Conti and if Ballyandy is delivered later I think he can overturn the form but is twice the price.
1.5pt e/w Wicklow Brave at 28/1 with William Hill
1pt e/w Ballyandy at 18/1 with Betfair
3.30 Champion Chase
I made a case for backing Min each-way in my weekend preview and nothing has changed (well bar team Mullins going very well on Tuesday). Where the bookie special for the day is money back if 2nd or 2nd to the fav or if Altior wins (Paddy Power shops) just chuck it on Min e/w. Don’t overthink it looking at the longshots. Politologue will be 3rd. He ran ok last time, this step back in trip will suit him. He was in front far too soon in last year’s renewal but that won’t be the case with Hells Kitchen, Saint Calvados, Castlegrace Paddy and even Altior setting a strong pace.
2pts e/w Min at 4/1 with Bet365
0.5pt Tricast Altior, Min, Politilogue
4.10 Cross Country Chase
Don’t overthink this one either folks. The bookies had a field-day on Tuesday and are getting confident. Dangling 11/8 Tiger Roll deserves to be taken. He’s a class apart from this lot and showed it last time with a smooth win over hurdles. He stays the trip and has navigated his way around this unique course before.
4pts win Tiger Roll at 11/8 with Bet365 and Paddy Power