Yanworth didn't get the best of rides for the home team and it could have been a different story had he got a better run through but the winner was idling on the run in and had he been held onto longer he may have won anyway.
Blaklion fought like a lion and deservedly won the RSA - a great performance.
Diamond King was well fancied and he seemed to get a better run though than the second Long House Hall and I'm not sure he will confirm the form if they meet again this season.
What a win by Sprinter Sacre - I always thought this horse had another big Grade 1 win in him and why people were writing him off last season can only be described as baffling!! - He made a crunching mistake at the downhill fence but it didn't stop the momentum and he sluiced past Un De Sceaux to roar away for victory.
Any Currency was another tear jerker and a great win for a small stable in the cross country.
Ballyandy completed a great day for the Twiston Davies family beating a trio of Mullins horses in 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
The Blog Bets
Diego Du Charmil - 1 point win @ 7/1 - 1st
High Bridge - 0.50 points ew @ 12/1 - 6th
Paul Nicholls started day two with Le Mercurey in the RSA but he weakened to finish last of the 8 runners and hopefully Nicholls will have some better ammo next season in the staying dept.
In the Coral Cup both Politologue and Baoulet De Laroque faded towards the finish and were generally disappointing. Dodging Bullets was run off his feet in the Champion Chase. However it all came good in the Fred Winter with Nicholls repeating his 1st and 2nd achievement form last season with Diego Du Charmil and Romain De Senam with the exacta paying £141.20.
Dan Skelton sent out two in the Neptune and Its'afreebee ran a cracker at 33/1 to finish 3rd. I said in the blog that his improvement may not have stopped and he ran a great race for Ian Popham.
Next one up for Skelton was Long House Hall and what a race he ran. I said in the blog that he would run well and didn't he do just that. Having been short of room he extracted himself and was finishing best of all to finish 2nd and compensation awaits.
1.30 - JLT Novices Chase
As De Mee Ran matured and strengthened up over last summer and returned at Chepstow in a Class 2 novice chase finishing 2nd to the more chase experienced Cocktails At Dawn. He then went to Cheltenham for the Steel Plate and Sections novices chase over two miles four and a half furlongs where he jumped well but slightly right most of the way he finished a good second to More Of That. He was then third to Ar Mad at Sandown before falling at Kempton and then second again behind Bristol De Mai back at Sandown and whilst consistent he has to improve to win.
Three Musketeers is a very likeable horse with lots of ability. He was a bit disappointing behind Sametegal at Huntingdon and put things right when winning next time out at Newbury in a Grade 2. He then went to Cheltenham on New Years Day and finished 5th in the Dipper Novices Chase a race in which Cheltenham winners this week Blaklion was second and Minella Rocco was 6th.
Outlander is one of the mian contenders here but the going may be against him. Garde La Victoire, Bristol de Mai and Three Musketeers are all contenders and the last-named could get Skelton onto the winners board.
2.10 Pertemps Network Final
Arpege D'Alene a half brother to Hennessy winner Triolo D'Alene. He made his return at Wincanton over 2m 4f on soft going in the Grade 2 Rising Stars novices chase but was comfortably held by Emma Lavelle's Junction Fourteen. He was then pulled up at Newbury when the stable were going through a bad patch before winning by a narrow margin at Chepstow in a Class 2 handicap hurdle off a mark of 140. He is up 6lb now and is the mount of Sean Bowen.
Warriors Tale did very well over hurdles winning two for Nicky Richards last season. A big, scopey sort he is a horse that the stable seem to have plenty of time for and he ran his best race last time out at Musselburgh when second in a qualifier for this race and Sam Twiston Davies has chosen him and will try and get the better of his Musselburgh conqueror Cup Final on 4lb better terms.
Call The Cops gave Nicky Henderson his first win in this race when landing the 2015 renewal and the Lambourn trainer has strong claims of saddling the winner again with his recent Musselburgh winner Cup Final. He is open to plenty of improvement having raced just seven times. Our Kaempfer has been freshened up since brought down five out when still full of running in a valuable handicap at Haydock in November and Charlie Longsdon is keen on his chances. If In Doubt is on a fair mark.
2.50 Ryanair Chase
Vibrato Valtat was targeted at the Haldon Gold Cup which he won in fine style from Third Intention despite having to take up the running sooner than ideal and hitting the last. He is stronger than last season and more the completed article. He travels well and usually appreciates a lead into the race.
He produced a career best at Kempton when third behind Sprinter Sacre and he was then 4th behind Un De Sceaux at Ascot. This trip will suit him better and he probably had a good chance before Vautour was re routed but he is not a 40/1 chance and he's worth an ew.
Al Ferof has been a top performer over the years with Paul Nicholls and won the Peterborough Chase on his return before finishing third in the King George behind Cue Card. He may run well but it's unlikely he can win.
Vautour sets the standard and the others will have to go some to be in with any chance, Al Ferof has been saved specifically for this race and others that may give the fav more to do are Road To Riches, Valseur Lido and Village Vic.
3.30 Ryanair World Hurdle
Aux Ptits Soins and Saphir Du Rheu in this for team Nicholls and Sam Twiston Davies must have had a difficult decision. They are both held in very high regard and I think one they will both be bang there at the finish and may even be fighting out the finish for another stable 1st and 2nd.
Thistlecrack who has carried all before him this season and Cole Harden who could lead them all a merry dance are the main opponents whilst Kilcooley could be a lively outsider.
4.10 Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate
Art Mauresque had smart Juvenile form in France before joining this stable. He usually wears a tongue tie, jumps really well and is suited by better ground. He finished 3rd to Irish Cavalier at Newton Abbot on his first run back after 5 months and he was 6th in the Paddy Power where he had every chance approaching the last. His form has gone off the boil since then so he will need to improve to be in with a chance.
Stilletto returned at Haydock when in need of the outing and finished 3rd behind Rock The Kasbah. A big horse not short of ability he was switched to fences at Catterick and won beating Amore Alato.
He was then 2nd, beaten 4 lengths to Violet Dancer before falling three fences out at Wincanton when full of running. Next time out at Leicester he was impressive when beating Steel Wings and has every chance of winning this as he has more improvement to come.
Salubrious a Grade 1 performer over hurdles, won the Martin Pipe at the festival in 2013. He won a Graduation chase on his return before finishing 6th behind Wakanda in the Class 1 Sodexo Silver Cup handicap chase.
4.50 Trull House Stud Mares Novices Hurdle
This is not a race I'm overly keen on and will give it a miss.
5.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup
Cause of Causes is a previous Festival winner thats well weighted and bids to go one
better than when second in the race in 2014. Doctor Harper has been a talking horse for Pipe and it could be dangerous to ignore him. Silvergrove, who’d be unbeaten in three starts for Ben Pauling but for a slipped saddle and remains on a good mark having accounted for A Good Skin at Kempton. Jonjo O’Neill who generally does well in the handicaps saddles Upswing and Lost Legend whilst Willie Mullins relies on Sabremont who may be open to further improvement.
Stilletto - 0.50 points ew @ 11/1
Saphir Du Rheu - 0.50 points ew @ 11/1
Vibrato Valtat - 0.50 ew @ 40/1
Saphir Du Rheu - 0.50 points ew @ 11/1
Vibrato Valtat - 0.50 ew @ 40/1