13:30 Cheltenham - Ballymore Novices Hurdle Sir Gerhard will likely start as a warm favourite for this event following two impressive hurdles victories to date. This is the first time that he steps up in trip for this event having swerved the Supreme Novices Hurdle in favour of this race. I’m quite confident given the manner of his form to date that he will stay the distance today and he will be hard to beat however the price does reflect this. Stage Star was well supported when taking the Challow Hurdle at Newbury and he did it in very taking style. It’s possible he could have more to offer and deserves his chance at the top level. It would be concerning though, that no winner of the Challow Hurdle has followed up in this race. Three Stripe Life was well beaten by Sir Gerhard at Leopardstown last time out and his hopes hinge on the distance having a massive swing in his favour, however I would say he is far too short in price for this race in my opinion. One who has less to prove is Journey With Me. He is guaranteed to stay the trip and has slipped in somewhat under the radar here. He can extend his unbeaten run and can improve the very impressive win percentage of Irish trained horses in this race.
written by Tom Bates
14:10 Cheltenham - Brown Advisory Novices Chase
Bravemansgame tops the market and it’s easy to see why. A decent novice hurdler last season, chasing was always going to be this horses forte and he’s taken to it with aplomb.
His latest victory was very good in the fact he gave a lot of weight to his rivals, as well as being impressive despite his yards poor run of form.
Ahoy Senor beat the favourite comprehensively at Aintree last season over hurdles, but this is a different ballgame. Ahoy Senor was outjumped when the pair dueled at Kempton over Christmas. He doesn’t look like a natural jumper of fences and maybe he would have been seen to best advantage in the Stayers Hurdle.
Farouk D’Alene looks an out and out stayer. His form is solid and if things don’t go to plan for those at the head of the market, he certainly has a chance of some place money.
Despite Bravemansgame being the likely winner, the selection is Gaillard Du Mesnil each way. This horse has some top class form at slightly shorter trips over both hurdles at fences. This six year old is a solid jumper and his recent efforts look like this stamina test could be exactly what he needs.
written by Matt Polley
14:50 Cheltenham - Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
The maximum field of 26 go in the Coral Cup. Again, bookies will be pay 6, 7 or 8 places in a race like this so do look around. Very difficult to talk about all 26 as you could make a case for half the field in a race like this.
Good Risk At All is a reserve at the moment and if he gets in would have a huge chance and is hugely unexposed.
Unexpected Party has done well in handicaps all season and was very good last time out at Ascot up 12 pounds though since that win and that may just limit his chances of winning but certainly in contention. The Shunter won at the Festival last year and has to be respected.
Saint Felicien and Drop The Anchor are currently the market favourites at the time of writing both talented horses but I think in a big field handicap race like this there is better value to have. Saint Felicien has never been tried at this trip and when you add that there are another 25 runners, you'll need a bit of luck and not get caught in any traffic or fallers.
Davey Russel is on board Grand Roi and over the years he always knows how to get his horse into contention in these big field handicaps. So maybe worth following him in a race like this. Although Grand Roi was favourite in last year's Pertemps and disappointed finishing 12th (Davey Russel of course missed Cheltenham last year)
Very difficult to talk about all 26 as you could make a case for half the field in a race like this.
My first selection is Ashdale Bob, Jack Foley takes a handy 3 pounds of Ashdale Bob who has gone back to hurdling in 2022. Ashdale Bob just didn't quite take to chasing clearly and has shown some promising hurdling form over his career. Wouldn't mind the expected rain forecasted for Wednesday as his better form seems over softer ground rather than good. But also, this trip has seen his better form come about.
My second selection and probably more the main selection out of my two. Is Gowel Road. Gowel Road has the course and distance form around here and is another who will not mind the expected rain on Wednesday, Gowel Road has beaten the likes of Unexpected Party over this course and distance and will be suited by the old course as such. Again, I can't get away from Nigel Twiston Davies 30% course record form with his runners at Cheltenham this year. Gowel Road showed some good battling qualities last time out when losing to Metier on ground that makes Metier very strong. So that performance should be marked up a little. Providing he has shown no ill effects on that heavy ground race at Lingfield last time Gowel Road should be in contention here.
This big field handicaps are always minefields but these are two I think can go well at each way prices.
written by Luke Tucker
15:30 Cheltenham - Champion Chase This is shaping up to be the race of the festival in my eyes. So many of the contenders will fancy their chances and would have solid claims to justify this. Shishkin is likely to be very popular for this event given his unbeaten record and it’s very hard to pick holes in him and his form. He’s very clever at his fences and though he didn’t have his best round of jumping last time out, he still had enough to beat the re-opposing Energumene that day. In my opinion, I can only see the result being a wider margin this time around when the Cheltenham hill has its say. The latter reportedly hasn’t enjoyed a perfect preparation for the festival having picked up a small knock towards the end of last month, however if he is on song, Energumene can once again lay it down to Shishkin and make it a truly memorable contest. Put The Kettle On is the only mare to have ever won this race but she would have to raise her game to get involved here as her form this time around has not been as good. Envoi Allen is not being widely talked about here but on his best form he would be drastically overpriced for this contest. I would say that this is his best trip and though he hasn’t exactly flourished since leaving Gordon Elliott’s stable, it would be very wrong to overlook him and though I think that Shishkin is by far the most likely winner here, Envoi Allen represents fantastic each way value that is hard to pass over.
written by Tom Bates
16:10 Cheltenham - Cross Country Chase
A race that divides opinion at the festival yet the Cross Country is steeped in history and it could be another historical day for Tiger Roll. By all accounts it’ll be the last time we see him step foot on a racecourse and he heads the betting in a hope to claim this contest for the 4th time. Now at the age of 12 he’s not at his peak but it’d take a brave punter to bet against him.
Sure to be in the mix but surely younger and fresher legs may have more in the locker in what looks one of the most competitive in recent times.
The only horse to beat Tiger Roll at Prestbury Park is Easysland who took the spoils in 2020 before the placings were reversed the following year. A current price of 12/1 about a horse who has great form around these fences seems super generous but I just can’t see the logic in switching him to the yard of Jonjo O’Neil. Since he’s changed homes he’s failed to finish a race and that’s enough to put me off.
The interesting runner in the line up has to be Delta Work who is a bit of a surprise entry having competed in Grade 1 company in his last 14 starts. 5th in the 2020 Gold Cup, 3rd in the RSA in 2019 and a winner of the Pertemps four years ago his record at the Cheltenham Festival is decent. As not many expected him to opt for this race it’s hard to know just what to expect. On his best he should dominate a field like this and having competed of the National fences at Aintree before has some experience of different obstacles. Are Gigginstown hoping he’ll be Tiger Roll’s understudy who knows but for now I’ll leave him be and opt for runners at bigger prices.
Before a certain Mr Elliott and a little wonder horse named Tiger came along a different trainer used to farm this race for fun. Enda Bolger has trained the winner of the Cross Country on numerous occasions and he comes here mob handed. With a trio of runners in the lineup it’s hard to discount any of the three but the one that I expect to do best is nine year old Shady Operator. He may have finished second behind stable companion Midnight Maestro but he was only a neck behind that day and was closing in the final stages. Compare that to when they met in November and Shady Operator came out on top by seven lengths. A few of his efforts can be forgiven especially when over an inadequate trip and I feel this extra distance is bound to suit. With a jockey onboard who’s +£9.00 with his rides at Cheltenham over the past five years he may not win but I expect him to finish in the top four.
If you’re on the hunt for a horse at a bigger price I’ve kept my eye on Plan Of Attack for this contest since he finished fourth over course and distance back in November. He went one better when returning here less than a month later so clearly handles this unique course. A fourth in the Kim Muir at the 2020 festival shows he can also handle the occasion and at current odds of 25/1 for a horse who ticks plenty of boxes is far too good to ignore.
Another at a massive price that deserves a mention is Tout Est Permis who may do better than expected and course and distance winners Back On The Lash and Diesel D’Allier have the form in the book to do well.
written by Rory Paddock
16:50 Cheltenham - Grand Annual
Sky Pirate is two from three in 2-mile chases at Cheltenham and won this race last year, just prevailing from the fast finishing Entoucas. He’s a smart performer who has had a decent season, although he is still yet to find the winner’s enclosure. As well as that, he’s been handed the hefty task of having to carry top weight around for this year’s renewal. Given his recent form and the nature of his victory last year, this seems a hard task for him to go back to back.
Embittered was the favourite for this race last year and was enjoying himself before falling at the 9th fence. He’s ran quite a few times this season, which is a slight concern, however most recently he has been competing in graded races, winning a Grade Three and bumping into Riviere D’Etel subsequently. Thus, he’s taking a massive step down in grade today. That being said, he’s been put up a pound, in the weights, compared to last year and he’s due to go down five pounds in the future, which leaves him out of the handicap. Nevertheless, he is still a danger.
Andy Dufresne is a classy horse, who had a lot of hype around him when he made his debut for Gordon Elliott’s Cullentra Stable. Inconsistency plagued him over hurdles but he got back to winning ways when going novice chasing, beating the aforementioned Embittered, in a Grade Three. He found Monkfish to hot in a Grade One over two and a half miles, this time last year and didn’t jump well at all that day. He placed second to Captain Guinness, when conceding weight, on his seasonal reappearance and sole race this season. He looks primed for this target and hasn’t had a hard season like the majority of them in this race. Additionally, he’s won four out of his six races when racing over two miles, placing in the other two. I would be disappointed if the cream didn’t rise to the top today.
written by Kieran McHugh
17:30 Cheltenham - Champion Bumper
This race revolves around the hype surrounding Facile Vega. It’s not just the fact that his dam was a multiple festival winner, it’s also due to the fact his been ultra impressive on his two winning starts.
American Mike from the Elliott yard is a horse that has also been on peoples lips since his winning debut under rules back in October. He added to that success at Navan and has been put aside for this race. He looks like a stayer and it usually takes a horse that stays well to take this event.
Willie Mullins not only saddles Facile Vega, he also has five other unbeaten horses and a horse that won last time out.
It really is a bit of a guessing game at this stage of these young horses career, however the Mullins yard should know where they stand, and the chat before Facile Vega made his debut was that he was very special.
written by Matt Polley
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