Today is day 2 of the UKs biggest horse racing festival with some fantastic offers from bookmakers. This preview is the 2nd of 4 special articles throughout this week.
Cheltenham Festival 2018 – Day 2
The first day of the 2018 Festival certainly didn’t disappoint, with four winners landing their races by a distance of a neck or less. Legendary trainer, Willie Mullins, had three runners back in the winner’s enclosure, whilst Nicky Henderson also got his first win of the week. Day 2 cannot come quickly enough.
13.30 – 2m5f Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Baring Bingham) (Class 1) (4yo+)
Samcro is a very strong favourite for opening race on Day 2, is probably the one they all must beat and could land Gordon Elliott his first win of the week. However, Next Destination is 3-3 over hurdles, which included a Grade 1 success at Naas last time out and looks better value at 7/2 for the Mullins and Walsh combination. Black Op could well have won here in a Grade 2 in January, but for a mistake at the final fence, and should be well in the mix. He looks good value at 10/1 for a place. At bigger odds of 66/1, Gowiththeflow could surprise a few for a stable that won this race last year.
Next Destination – Win 7/2
Black Op – E/W 10/1
Gowiththeflow – E/W 66/1
2.10 – 3m½f RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)
Black Corton is the only C&D winner in the race, recording successes here on his last two appearances. Must be respected at 15/2, especially after latest wins have been on soft ground, which is predicted for Day 2. Elegant Escape is a good stayer but was just beaten by Black Corton at Kempton on Boxing Day. He responded with an impressive win at Exeter last time out and can be involved for an each-way place at odds of 9/1.
Black Corton – Win 15/2
Elegant Escape – E/W 9/1
2.50 – 2m5f Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4yo+)
A huge field with lots of chances, but the verdict goes to the Ben Pauling trained Le Breuil at 14/1. Looked good when winning back-to-back novice hurdles last season and went on to finish second in an Aintree handicap in December. Mileage remains low and has a good chance. Trainer Ben Pauling also runs Red Indian who has been placed on all four handicap starts. He is most effective with plenty of cut in the ground and can be in the mix at odds of 25/1. The unexposed Voix Du Reve can also go well for the Willie Mullins yard at 16/1.
Le Breuil – Win 14/1
Red Indian – E/W 25/1
Voix Du Reve – E/W 16/1
3.30 – 2m Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)
The fourth race of the day will surely revolve around Altior, Min and Douvan. It is just too difficult to not back the 11/10 Nicky Henderson trained favourite who has a record of 12 from 12 over obstacles. Min and Douvan will not make it easy, but Special Tiara won this race last year and looks much better value at 33/1 to grab a place.
Altior – Win 11/10
Special Tiara – E/W 33/1
4.10 – 3m6f Glenfarclas Chase (A Cross Country Chase) (Class 2) (5yo+)
Another really competitive race in this unique cross-country test, but 2016 Grand National runner-up, The Last Samuri, at 6/1, looks to be a huge threat if transferring his form to this new type of discipline. Bless The Wings is consistent here over C&D and has been placed in this race in each of the last two years – no reason why he can’t do it again at 9/1.
The Last Samuri – Win 6/1
Bless The Wings – E/W 9/1
4.50 – 2m½f Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4yo)
Twenty-two runners line up for the penultimate race of the day, but the Paul Nicholls trained, Act Of Valour, looks to have a good chance at odds of 9/1 now retuning to soft ground. A useful looking flat recruit, he won well on hurdles debut on soft at Newcastle. Disappointed next time on good ground, but back on form when second at Musselburgh last time out. Style De Garde is lightly raced, so a potential improver for Nicky Henderson and can be in the mix at 14/1, whilst Lisp also looks to have place chances at 14/1.
Act Of Valour – Win 9/1
Style De Garde – E/W 14/1
Lisp – E/W 14/1
5.30 – 2m½f Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4-6yo)
A National Hunt bumper with a lot of unexposed runners amongst the twenty-six runners. Acey Milan looks to be bringing the best form into the race with three wins, including two at Listed level, so gets the nod at 7/1. Willie Mullins has won this race 8-times and runs Carefully Selected, who has won two Irish bumpers comfortably and looks a contender at 10/1. Thebankingrebel is unbeaten in two starts and could prove a threat at 25/1.
Acey Milan – Win 7/1
Carefully Selected – E/W 10/1
Thebankingrebel – E/W 25/1