Andy Holding provides the Irish angle to today's Cheltenham Festival races.
1.30 - Neptune Novices' Hurdle
The Mullins team started the week in blistering fashion and hopes are high that YORKHILL
can keep up the good work in the traditional day-two curtain-raiser. Switched at the eleventh hour from the Supreme to tackle this longer distance, that policy should serve to help the son of Presenting with the ground drying out and he arguably has just as good form as favourite Yanworth based on his superb performance in a strong renewal of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last time out. Stablemates THOMAS HOBSON
and A TOI PHIL
are both respected, but they will probably have to improve on what they’ve achieved so far to date.
Yorkhill - 1pt @ 5/2
2.10 RSA Chase
NO MORE HEROES
has dominated this division on home soil with victories in two Grade 1 contests and looks a worthy market leader based on those two performances. His latest display when scoring tidily at Leopardstown rubber-stamped him as the archetypal type for the rigours of this event and it’s not difficult to see this strong stayer powering up the hill off the back of a decent round of jumping. Of the rest, ROI DES FRANCS
commands plenty of respect and it has to be significant that Giggingstown see fit to run him in this race rather than tackle the National Hunt Chase – for which he was a strong fancy for quite some time.
No More Heroes - 1pt @ 5/2
2.50 Coral Cup
ARBRE DE VIE
has been a warm order in the ante-post markets for this race, but it has to be a slight worry that regular pilot, Ruby Walsh has ditched him in favour of BLOOD COTIL
. Although the latter has plenty of smart form over fences, he isn’t the most fluent of jumpers so a return to the smaller obstacles should see the son of Enrique run a big race. DIAMOND KING
has also been popular in the build up to the race and the good ground will definitely help his cause.
Arbre De Vie - 1pt @ 12/1
3.30 Champion Chase
Following a total bloodbath for the layers on day one, they will be hoping for an act of god to somehow get UN DE SCEAUX
beat and one of their only hopes would be if Willie Mullins’ charge is taken out of comfort zone by the likes of SPECIAL TIARA
and Just Cameron. If the wheels do come off the favourite, stable mate FELIX YONGER
could easily turn out to be one of the chief beneficiaries and he rates a fair each-way alternative at a working man’s price. A Grade 1 winner at the Punchestown festival last season, the son of Oscar warmed up nicely for a tilt at this prize with a smooth success back at the same track last time out.
Un De Sceaux - 1pt @ 5/6
4.10 Cross Country Chase
Having won this race before with Big Shu, Peter Maher will be hoping that BALLYBOKER BRIDGE
can provide him with another memorable festival moment. The son of Gold Well had a nice ‘sighter’ over this course when third behind track specialist JOSIES ORDERS
back in December and a subsequent win over the banks on home soil will have given him plenty of confidence for his return visit to Prestbury Park.
Josies Orders - 1pt @ 3/1
4.50 Fred Winter
Amazingly only one trainer represents the ‘away’ team and having won this race before, Gordon Elliot will be hoping that either CAMPEADOR
or MISSY TATA
can add to his impressive record in the race. The former ran well on his only start for new connections when an eye-catching fourth in a Grade 2 at Leopardstown last time out and considering he was very keen in the early stages, he ran a good deal better than his final finishing position suggests. The latter also holds Graded form courtesy of a runner-up spot behind Rashan back in November and while she quite a bit to find on the bare bones of that form, it couldn’t come as the biggest shock in the world if she was to overachieve.
Campeador - 1pt @ 9/1
5.30 Champion Bumper
As Lucky Pass has looked the best bumper horse to run in Ireland this season (doesn’t run because of Giggingstown’s reluctance to risk their best horses in this race), any form tying in with Willie Mullins’ charge is well worth considering. Both BATTLEFORD
and FIRST FIGARO
have run well against Lucky Pass in the point-to-point field and bumpers respectively and are worth playing against the field at 25/1 and 20/1 respectively.
First Figaro - 1pt @ 16/1