CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL – DAY 2 (WEDNESDAY)

13:30 – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) Team Mullins will want to go one better than they did in the first race yesterday and their hopes are pinned with Bacardys but he needs to step up on what he’s done to date. Unbeaten favourite Neon Wolf looks to make sure he’s yet to finish behind a rival and after his Grade 2 success continues to progress. There’s only one Grade 1 winner in the race and MESSIRE DES OBEAUX looks to have great form after putting yesterday’s runner Ballyandy in his place. Alan Kings runner looks overpriced and worth an each way punt. MESSIRE DES OBEAUX (E/W)

14:10 – RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) Nicky Henderson holds a strong hand in this Grade 1 with Might Bite setting the standard. He fell at the last when well clear at Kempton on Boxing Day when asked for a big jump, which wasn’t required. He got a confidence-boosting win at Doncaster last time and his claims are clear to see. Preference though is for stablemate WHISPER who is two from two over fences with both wins coming at this track. They’ve been over shorter trips but he could improve for further considering he won two Stayers’ Hurdles at Aintree over this trip in the past. Acapella Bourgeois could lead the Irish Challenge. WHISPER (E/W)

14:50 – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) Gordon Elliott’s Tombstone could be thrown in here off 149 after winning well last time. If handling the better ground and the step up in trip he’d be on the shortlist. Modus carries top weight and he seemed to relish the extra distance when winning the Lanzarote. Stan Sheppard takes 5lb off, so he could have more to offer. A chance is taken on MISTER MIYAGI. He ran no sort of race in a Grade 2 here in December, which prompted a wind operation. His novice hurdle form looks solid – sixth in the Supreme and a win here in April by a good distance. In a strongly run race he doesn’t look too badly treated. MISTER MIYAGI (E/W)

15:30 – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) This looks to be the absolute banker of many for the festival as DOUVAN looks sure to extend his unbeaten run to fourteen. Willie Mullins has had an absolute nightmare of a season, but this seven year old ought to prove a shining light to the punting faithful. He has done nothing but continue to dominate his opposition with ease, many of whom once again look set to lock horns with him here. Rich Ricci’s horse has been to two previous Cheltenham Festival and won , so with that in mind he is impossible to oppose. DOUVAN (WIN)

16:10 – Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country Chase) Seen by some as having no place at The Festival and a bit of a novelty but the Cross Country race is a unique spectacle. Normally looking for a horse trained by E. Bolger is enough to find your winner and with three entries including the favourite Cantlow he’s bound to go close this year however he doesn’t win them all. BLESS THE WINGS has been campaigned for the race all term and has a great record around these fences finishing third in the race last year. With a better weight than 2016’s renewal I’m hoping he can do even better at a decent price. BLESS THE WINGS (E/W)

16:50 – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) NIETZSCHE comes here in search of a three timer but he gets in here on a decent weight. Brian Ellison can ready them for the big occasion and this consistent son of Poets Voice can make his presence felt. Wins at Catterick , Ayr and Market Rasen bode well for him and he looks to have strong claims here. NIETZSCHE (E/W)

17:30 – Weatherby’s Champion Bumper (A Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) (Grade 1) CARTER MCKAY heads the Willie Mullins battalion and following three smooth wins in his native Ireland he has built up plenty of experience. His win at Naas last time was over a couple of extra furlongs so he should be staying on all the way up the hill. Whilst the yard have had their troubles this season, they really like this grey and he can prove a leading light here. CARTER MCKAY (WIN)

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