13:30 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

We got a few place returns on the opening day, but the last three races put a huge dent in the P/L. We’ve got three days to win it back!

Not the most surprising of selections in the opening race of day two of the festival. However, I think ENVOI ALLEN (best price 4-5) is the real deal. The fact horses wanted to avoid the Gordon Elliott horse speaks volumes. He has valuable Festival experience and form on testing ground. That form was boosted on day one with Abacadabras, Darver Star and Elixir D’ainay.

Sporting John is an obvious danger, but it I was looking to back with a bit more value I’d be looking at The Big Breakaway in the without Envoi Allen market, or even taking a bit of a risk with Son of Camas (e/w), again in the without market.

Envoi Allen - 1pt @ 4/6

14:10 RSA Insurance Novices' Chase

This is one of the hardest races to call at the meeting, and I’ve been undecided about three at the top of the market over the last few weeks. I don’t see Allaho playing much of a role in this race, and out of the top three I’m willing to forgive CHAMP (best price 4-1).

Novices make mistakes and will fall occasionally, this doesn’t automatically make them a bad horse. Granted it does mean you have to be a little wary when backing, but if Champ was to win on New Year's Day he’d be a lot shorter now.

Champ beat Black Op back in November, who has since gone on to finish second to Slate House on Boxing Day. He finished second at the Festival last season behind City Island, before beating Emitom at Aintree. Nicky Henderson’s yard had a good opening day, collecting two winners, and Champ could easily be the third.

Champ - 1pt @ 4/1

14:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

I found plenty to like in the Coral Cup market last week, and picked out quite a few who could win at decent odds. Of that list I’m going to stick up two, which isn’t a bad ploy to have in races like this where bookmakers are offering seven places. Two I have left out are Canardier who I’ve admired for quite a while now, and Traffic Fluide. I would have been interested in Traffic Fluide before that run last time out.

PROTEKTORAT (best price 14-1 / 6 places) is the first horse I’m going to put up in the race, Dan Skelton’s horse just keeps on improving. He was an impressive third at Cheltenham last time out, finishing behind Harry Senior and King Roland. The time before he beat Imperial Alcazar who has since come out and won with ease. He has plenty of experience at Cheltenham, and good form in testing conditions. My only worry is his inexperience in a field this size.

The other one I’m going with in this race is the favourite. DAME DE COMPAGNIE (best price 5-1 / 6 places) is a really interesting one. Connections launched an appeal regarding a 2lb rise, which they won, you’d have to think they’d be pretty keen on her to do this. She still looks well treated to me. She won with relative ease last time out at Cheltenham in December, Indefatigable finished second on that occasion who has since come out and won. She has good course form, form on soft ground, but again is inexperienced in huge fields.

Protektorat - 1pt e/w @ 14/1
Dame De Compagnie - 1pt e/w @ 5/1

15:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

I was actually pretty happy to see Altior pull out of this clash, yes it would have been a fantastic spectacle, but for starters my heart would have wanted to tip Altior, and if he wasn’t 100% and lost it would have further dented his career.

DEFI DU SEUIL (best price 5-4) is the bet for me, he would have been hard to oppose with Altior being in the race and now looks like the NAP of the day at 5/4. He has plenty of Cheltenham form, comes into the race in prime form with three good wins under his belt this season. He won’t mind the conditions under foot. Chacun Pour Soi is obviously a very talented horse and will be a festival winner but not this year.

There’s quite a bit of value in the without market as bookmakers are offering two places. You’d imagine Chacun Pour Soi will get second, but then it’s out of four others for the last spot. I’m going to stick up POLITOLOGUE (best price 9-1 w/o Defi Du Seuil / 2 places) in this market. He didn’t run too well in the Tingle Creek but pushed Defi Du Seuil the time before at Cheltenham, he went off 5/2 that day. The nine-year-old seems to enjoy riding at this track. Even if he comes third behind Deif and Chacun, you’ll still make profit.

Defi Du Seuil - 2pts @ 5/4
Politologue - 1pt e/w @ 9/1

16:10 Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country Chase)

Without doubt, TIGER ROLL (best price 5-6) has had a worse prep for this race compared to last season, however, this is a very weak race. Easysland has been talked up by many pundits who are looking for something to take Tiger Roll on with. Easysland is obviously a talented horse when you watch the France runs, but is he in the same league as Tiger Roll?

Outside of these two the race is very weak which is highlighted by Might Bite being the third favourite. Again you can get some decent value in the without market, but my only bet in the race is the favourite.

Tiger Roll - 1pt @ 5/6

16:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

There’s a couple here who have been overlooked in the market, the first is for Alan King who has a pretty poor record in the race. BLACKO (best price 11-2 / 6 places) has been attracting a lot of attention in the market, and even though bet365’s 20/1 has gone, I still feel this is a bet. He won at Warwick last time, beating The Pink’n, the rest of the field was a long way behind. There was probably more left in the tank for Blacko, as the win was never really in danger. It was a fairly slow race, but he impressed by winning from the front. The Pink’n has form against a few in the market, and has since finished third to Sir Psycho, and then beat Zarafshan.

The other in the market I like is the improving GALAHAD QUEST (best price 25-1 / 5 places) for Nick Williams. The four-year-old has only had three runs, but is improving after each outing. He finished second to Buzz on his second appearance, Buzz has since backed that up with a win at Doncaster. Galahad Quest then beat the likes of Night Edition, Monte Cristo and Rowland Ward at Cheltenham in January.

Blacko - 1pt e/w @ 11/2
Galahad Quest - 1pt e/w @ 25/1

17:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper

Appreciate it was always going to be the favourite at the Festival I was going to take on, and there’s two near the top of the market worth chancing, especially with four places on offer. Jamie Codd takes the ride on QUEENS BROOK (best price 17-2) which only enhances the chances of my first selection.

Queens Brook was a very impressive winner for Gordon Elltiott last month, smashing Nelly’s Money by 21L. The yard seem pretty bullish about this horse, which is probably fair given that outing. That win came in very testing conditions, so any cut under foot shouldn’t be a problem today. She finished third on her debut at Monksgrange to Cill Anna, who looks a proper horse. That race has produced a few decent types. Point to point form looks good enough to challenge in this race.

The second I’m eyeing up is ESKYLANE (best price 12-1) who lost narrowly to Assemble in November, however, Appreciate It finished third on that occasion. Assemble won his next race in December. Eskylane then won with ease in Navan. A few people saying Jamie Codd taking another ride is a big disadvantage, but I don’t see that with Davy Russell booked. Well worth backing at this price.

Queens Brook - 1.5pts e/w @ 17/2
Eskylane - 1pt e/w @ 12/1