The headline maker on Day 2 was undoubtedly Tiger Roll, who rolled back the years to light up Prestbury Park with a heart warming success in the Cross Country Chase.
It is a real shame that he has been denied the chance to emulate Red Rum and win a third Grand National, but his place amongst the all-time greats of the sport is assured.
Turning to today’s action, the racing looks the most competitive of the week so far, with large fields going to post for virtually every race.
MARSH NOVICES' CHASE
There is a hot favourite for the opener in the shape of the so far unbeaten Envoi Allen, who will try to emulate the four winning favourites of the big novice races on days 1 & 2.
There is plenty of depth in terms of opposition, however, and with 8 set to go to post, there is plenty of value for each-way punters too.
The pair we like are FUSIL RAFFLES and DARVER STAR. Both were very decent hurdlers, with the latter finishing third in last year’s Champion Hurdle, and, crucially, both will love the drying ground.
Fusil Raffles won well here last time out and looks to have been laid out for this (his stablemate Chantry House should also go well).
Darver Star was disappointing last time out, but his yard wasn’t in great form at the time, and if you can forgive him that one poor effort then he definitely looks overpriced here.
PERTEMPS NETWORK FINAL
The Pertemps Final is the day’s first handicap and a huge field will go to post, making this a real head scratcher for punters.
Imperial Alcazar has earned his place at the head of the market and definitely has more to give, meaning his recent hike in the weights might not be enough to stop him giving Feral O’Brien his first Festival winner. However, he needs to prove himself on the ground and his price has become unattractive over the past couple of weeks.
Of those at the head of the market, Irish challengers The Bosses Oscar and MILLINER make plenty of appeal, with preference for the latter who has a featherweight to carry. He is also open to more improvement than most having had only 5 career starts to date. Trainer and jockey couldn’t be in better form.
There will surely be runners at bigger prices knocking on the door too, and a couple that we like that fall into that category are KEEPER HILL & EVERGLOW.
Both have some first-time headgear on to help them, which is a significant angle based on the race’s trends.
Keeper Hill was running in some top-class chases earlier in the year and has gone well since returning to hurdles on his last two starts. Those runs were on soft ground, but five of his wins have been on good to soft or better.
Everglow is an unexposed novice who could find improvement for first time blinkers. Being by Presenting, he should relish the ground too.
Copperhead is another outsider to consider with some bookmakers offering 7 places.
The first of the day’s three’s feature races follows and this looks as competitive a field for a Ryanair Chase as there has been for some time.
It is possible to make a case for all of the fourteen runners, so it is no surprise to see bookmakers going 5/1 the field this morning.
With the sun on his back and the ground drying out, conditions look perfect for MELON, who could finally break his Festival duck. He has had four seconds at the great meeting and was desperately unlucky to be pipped at the post by Samcro in last season’s Marsh.
He looked as good as ever when finishing third in the Savills Chase on his penultimate start when the trip just appeared to stretch his stamina. He seems to have been around forever but is still only nine.
There are dangers everywhere, but we have always thought FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES could take his form to a new level when stepping up in trip and the horse showed signs that he might be peaking at the right time when finishing second to Chacun Pour Soi over two miles last time out. His yard also looks to be coming into form.
Mister Fisher looks a big danger, whilst don’t be surprised if Fanion D’Estruval outruns his monster price.
The staying hurdlers take centre stage next and there is a chance of another memorable Festival story being written here, with Paisley Park looking to regain his crown.
He has a favourite’s chance as he seems to be over the heart problem that stopped him in his tracks behind Lisnagar Oscar last year. We wouldn’t put anyone off of backing him, but this can be a strange race that throws up strange results, so at the prices, we have decided to take him on.
When looking elsewhere, we think the race to concentrate on is a Grade 2 hurdle run at Navan three and a half weeks ago, where BEACON EDGE and FURY ROAD finished first and second.
They both look less exposed over this trip than many of today’s rivals and Fury Road has course form too, having been third in an excellent renewal of the Albert Bartlett last year. Beacon Edge’s yard had a winner earlier in the meeting which is another plus.
The Storyteller has been in the form of his life over hurdles and fences this season and shouldn’t be far away, whilst Vinndication is interesting now sent back over hurdles.
If he copes with going left-handed, don’t rule out a big race from his stablemate, Younevercall, either at a huge price as he will relish underfoot conditions.
Paddy Power are offering 5 places for each-way bets.
PADDY POWER PLATE
It is back to big field handicaps next, this time over fences.
All eyes in the Paddy Power Plate will be on The Shunter who goes in search of a £100,000 bonus. He has a big chance, but is no sort of price in a race like this.
Market rival, FARCLAS, looks a better option of those near the head of the market. He has run well here before, winning the Triumph Hurdle in 2018. He has also run well in competitive handicaps in Ireland this year and will enjoy the decent ground and shorter trip here.
Of the home contingent, HAPPY DIVA seldom runs a bad race here and looks reasonably treated based on her third in this race last season behind Simply The Betts.
JP McManus runners Sully D’Occ AA and Dead Right are respected, but for those looking to knock one out of the park, take a chance on KILTEALY BRIGGS or Two Taffs.
The former’s yard is in great form and he could spring a surprise if the drop back in trip and better ground bring about an improvement. His past record strongly suggest they might.
Two Taffs was third in a race over a similar trip to this at the Festival four years ago. He has struggled with injuries since, and has switched yards, but showed signs of a revival last time out. Slight preference is for the younger Kiltealy Briggs.
The race sponsors are offering six places for each-way bets.
MARES NOVICES' HURDLE
Given the past record of Irish trainers in mares races at the Festival, this race looks sure to go the way of the raiders from Ireland with Willie Mullins the man to focus on again.
Of his runners, we like Hook Up and GLENS OF ANTRIM the best. The latter has yet to win but will enjoy a fast run two miles here as well as the quicker conditions underfoot.
Another maiden, MIGHTY BLUE, is also worth an interest. She was decent on the flat and has been running on unsuitably soft ground all winter. Joseph O’Brien looks sure to win a race at the meeting soon.
Skyace is also worth a second look given his shrewd connections.
KIM MUIR CHASE
The last race of the day is the longest, with the field having to travel 3 miles 2f.
That is a trip significantly further than MOUNT IDA has ever tried before, but all of his recent starts suggest he is crying out for this step up in distance.
Fellow Irish raider PLAN OF ATTACK, can follow him home, with Milanford, Musical Slave and Crievehill all interesting at bigger prices.