As was the case yesterday, day two of the Festival opens up with two novice events and it is worrying for the British challengers today that the Irish had the first eight home in the Supreme, as well as the first and third in the Arkle. They also went on to saddle the first four in the Boodles.
BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE
That all suggests that Hermes Allen has it all to do in the Ballymore, despite him being one of the best novice hurdlers we have produced this campaign.
It is also six years since the last British winner of the race and IMPAIRE ET PASSE can extend that losing sequence here. He has been one of the biggest talking horses in the lead up to the Festival and given the strength in depth of Willie Mullins’ novice hurdlers the confidence behind him is clearly significant.
Stablemate Gaelic Warrior looks the chief danger, although his tendency to jump right handed won’t help him here, whilst Good Land also brings some top class form into the race.
However, at a much bigger price we would suggest backing AMERICAN MIKE, in the hope that he can re-find the form that saw him chase home Facile Vega in last season’s Festival bumper. He has course form and looks a strong stayer.
BROWN ADVISORY NOVICES’ CHASE
Gerri Colombe is rightly a short priced favourite for the Brown Advisory following an impressive win at Sandown last time out.
However, he has never been to Cheltenham before and may be worth opposing at the prices, as this race has a history of turning into a real war of attrition.
That should suit the strong staying THYME HILL who has run well in some top-class hurdle races here in the past. If he can get into a rhythm with his jumping he should be a big each way player.
The race’s dark horse is undoubtedly SIR GERHARD, who has already won at the Festival twice before.
He lacks experience over fences and is yet to tackle this trip, but if he can reproduce the sort of effort that saw him run away with last season’s Ballymore on very soft ground he could be a class above these.
The first big betting race of the day is the Coral Cup, where a chance can be given to almost all of the 26 runners that look set to face the starter.
Many of them will have been laid out for the race for some time, with the likes of An Epic Song and Run For Oscar being obvious examples.
Our three against the field are HMS SEAHORSE, BEACON EDGE and NELLS SON.
HMS SEAHORSE was a fine fourth in last season’s Boodles and looks to have enjoyed stepping up in trip recently. His trainer, Paul Nolan, is a man to be respected when he sends one to the Festival.
BEACON EDGE drops in class here – he was fourth in the 2021 Stayers Hurdle – and looked to be retuning to form last time out.
NELLS SON could be the pick of those at bigger prices. He ran well here over a shorter trip in January and was a Grade 2 winner as a novice.
Captain Conby, Icare Allen and Fil Dor were also on the shortlist.
The day’s big race is the Champion Chase and we are still sweet on the chances of our ante post tip, EDITEUR DU GITE, who comes into the race firmly on the upgrade after wins at Kempton over Christmas and in the rescheduled Clarence House Chase here last time out.
He has a top class pair of two mile chasers ahead of him the betting and will have to take his form to a new level to beat Energumene and EDWARDSTONE, but we think he is capable of doing so.
The runner up in the Clarence House, EDWARDSTONE, looks to be his biggest danger today.
This could be a good race to have a tilt at a tricast and for those wanting to do so Greaneteen might be worth including in case one of the front three underperforms.
CROSS COUNTRY CHASE
The Cross Country Chase looks set to be fought out by those at the head of the market.
The key to the race is the fact that it is a level weights contest, which makes it almost impossible to make a case for all but a few of these.
The ground has come in favour of DELTA WORK, who beat Tiger Roll in an emotional renewal last season. He looks a very strong option again this year and Galvin could easily make it a one two for Gordon Elliott.
If the favourite does under perform, however, it might be that FRANCO DE PORT can be the one to pick up the pieces. He is a class act who could improve for tackling the course and distance for the first time.
GRAND ANNUAL HANDICAP CHASE
Our fancies for the Grand Annual are ELIXIR DE NUTZ, MASKADA and DINOBLUE.
The two we like in the lucky last are WESTERN DIEGO and CHAPEAU DE SOLEIL.