13:30 Cheltenham – Ballymore Novices Hurdle
Champ got to within a neck of Vinndication on hurdles debut and hasn’t looked back since, winning four on the bounce including The Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury last time out. While I cannot knock his record, given the subsequent results from horses that he has raced against I have to look elsewhere.
Battleoverdoyen was a point-to-point winner before moving to Gordon Elliott and has since won three from three, firstly winning a decent bumper before an easy victory at Navan in December, followed up by a Grade 1 victory over 20 furlongs at Naas last time out. His trainer won this race last season with Samcro and I feel in Battleoveryoden he has a likeable horse who has the class to win it again.
Sams Profile is another who has winning form in point-to-points and put in an excellent run to finish second to Battleoverdoyen when last seen, staying on strongly to pass two other rivals and get within three-lengths of the winner. He completes the shortlist, looking to have a decent each way chance.
14:10 Cheltenham – RSA Chase
Lots of decent novice chasers in this race but I fancy Topofthegame for this one. Nicholls thinks an awful lot of the horse and at a preview night Harry Cobden was very sweet on this one as possibly his best chances of a winner this week.
The main threat and current favourite will be Delta Work who has experience of winning at Cheltenham before but Topofthegame was very unlucky in his last 2 races finishing 2nd and can make amends for that this afternoon.
Of the remainder the likes on Santini and at a bigger price Mister Malarkey have obvious chances if the favourite and the selection faulted
14:50 Cheltenham – Coral Cup
Uradel has long been all the rage for this in the anti post markets and now appears likely to get into the race having looked unlikely to do so only a couple of days ago. Smart enough to come second in last seasons Cesarewitch at Newmarket, it is highly unlikely this trip will pose any problems for and the presence of Ruby Walsh on top is a major positive. Farclas has been rather disappointing since winning the Triumph last season, his trainer wouldn’t have sent him over for the scenery however and a big run could be on the cards. Brio Conit is unexposed and surely has more left in him although the feeling is that Uradel has been mapped out for this and he is surely unlikely to be given as much to do as when catching the eye at Leopardstown last time.
URADEL (WIN) – NAP
15:30 Cheltenham – Champion Chase
The main race on Wednesday and it’s hard not to look past Altior. He certainly won’t make you rich backing him at a short price on the day but there really isn’t many chinks in this horses armour. Beaten everything that has gone against him over fences and 12 from 12. A fair bit of talk after his last race at Ascot that the horse was jumping left but that wont be a problem on this left handed track. He has more than proven his worth on this course and I am hopeful of a big performance from this fantastic horse.
Interesting to see where Henderson and the owners go next season but this is a superstar so just sit back and enjoy him in full flight
For those looking for an each way perspective Castlegrace Paddy should relish the soft ground and jockey Davy Russell will look to pick off a few of the runners as they fade in the closing stages.
16:10 Cheltenham – Glenfarclass Cross Country Chase
It takes some serious doing to win at the festival and then claim one of the biggest races in the National Hunt calendar in the Grand National. Tiger Roll is a class act and deserves his spot as short priced favourite but with sixteen set to go to post you have to look for each way value.
Trainer Enda Bolger has an amazing record in this race and any horse he sends over for the cross country has to immediately demand a whole heap of respect. He enters both Josie’s Orders and Auvergnat and it’s the latter who gets the nod.
A shock winner of the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown showed that he may be a bit classier than most of us first thought. He won’t be put off by the softening ground and at the age of nine should have fresher legs than his more senior stable companion. If Auvergnat isn’t too far away from the leaders expect a very big run.
16:50 Cheltenham – Boodles Juvenile Hurdle
Race normally known as the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle. Seven at the front of the betting market as I type this are all Irish trained so the Irish certainly have a very strong hand.
I do like the likely favourite in this Band Of Outlaws who was impressive with his win at Naas and his previous outing before that in Limerick the horse showed a quick turn of foot. He side tracked the Triumph Hurdle to go for this race. I imagine there will be some late work going up the illustrious hill for Mullins’ charge so don’t be surprised if J J Slevin doesn’t let him go till late on.
You could make a case for a number of these horses but I will stick with the favourite ego looks a classier type.
BAND OF OUTLAWS (WIN)
17:30 Cheltenham – Champion Bumper
This looks a nightmarish task to decipher for punters, Envoi Allen has topped the market for months and has a perfect record so far. There are slight questions about him however, rarely that impressive on the eye, one wonders quite what he has been beating and he looked rather workmanlike the last day. From the Elliott yard, dismissing him out of hand would be foolish though on this occasion, he isn’t for us. Willie Mullins has a fine record in this and is represented by Blue Sari, he looked mighty impressive when bolting up at Gowran and could be the potential star. The rest are difficult to weigh up so a chance will be taken on the Paul Nicholls trained, Ask For Glory. Purchased for £280,000 after winning his point, he made quite the impression when hacking up on his rules debut at Chepstow and though he must improve, for place players he makes plenty enough of appeal.
ASK FOR GLORY (E/W)