Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Cheltenham Day Two

Hope you all had a good first day and that it's onward and upward for Day Two.

Looking back on Day One
A top performance by Hendersons Altior kicked off the meeting and beat Min a Mullins hotpot. It was reported as being Hendersons best chance of a winner all week and so it proved. He had been so near to winning the race in it's recent past so it was great to see him do it again and record his 54th Cheltenham winner.
Douvan won the Arkle as expected with the others throwing everything at it to even get involved.
David Pipe always runs his better horses at the Cheltenham meetings pre Christmas and he didn't disappoint again with Un Temps Pour Tout running out a worthy winner of the first handicap and paying a big compliment to Nicholls Vicente later in the afternoon.
Annie Power took us back to the euphoria of the Dawn Run days by winning the Champion Hurdle and in doing so raised the Cheltenham roof.
Vroum Vroum Mag brought up the treble for the Mullins, Ricci, Walsh Cheltenham roadshow as she breezed into the lead turning for home in the Mares Hurdle and Minella Rocco and Ballyalton won the remaining two races of  the day for messrs O'Neill and Williams.

The Blog Bets Day One
1.30 - Penglai Pavillion 1 point ew @ 40/1 - 0 - unable to get competitive.
2.50 - Southfield Theatre 0.50 points ew @ 20/1 - BD
4.10 - Bitofapuzzle 0.50 points ew @ 14/1 - 0 - unable to get competitive
4.50 - Vicente 0.50 points ew @ 16/1 - 5th
5.30 - Javert 0.50 points ew @ 16/1 - 0
A poor day for the blog tips wise The blog and the only upside was the Supreme Hurdle in which we highlighted the first three home with the tricast paying £70.50 to a £1 stake.

Paul Nicholls Day One
Nicholls started the festival in the third race with Southfield Theatre but he got a poor start and was just getting going when brought down. Tara Point was bang there coming down the hill in the Mares Hurdle and should be better for the run if she can move on to Aintree. Vicente was unlucky not to be placed as seemed to suffer with the loose horse and Bouvreuil ran well to finish second in the final race of the day.

Dan Skelton Day One
Dan Skelton hasn't been in the best of form of late and his runners ran as well as could be expected in the face of the tasks that they had.

1.30 Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle
Its 'afreebee
 was progressive in Irish bumpers and at Bangor on his hurdling debut. He was sold two days later and had his first run for Dan Skelton at Haydock when winning in December. He returned to that track in January for the Grade 2 Supreme novices trial which he also won from Nicholls Le Prezien and his progress may not yet have stopped. Harry Skelton however rides the stables other runner Welsh Shadow. He was comprehensively beaten by Champion Bumper 4th Yanworth on his first run back at Exeter in a Class 3 2m1f novices hurdle on soft going so you would think he is running for a place at best.

Yanworth sets a very high standard following his impressive win on Festival Trials Day and he looks top notch. Mullins’ A Toi Phil and Yorkhill would appear to hold his best chance of winning but they will have to go something to beat Yanworth.
2.10 RSA Chase
Le Mercurey
was purchased with a chasing career in mind and he got it off to a good start in a Class 3 novice chase at Plumpton on 16/11 when driven clear to win by 6 lengths. Violet Dancer franked the form. He strengthened up over last summer and had the required Ditcheat wind operation but he's probably not as good a chaser as Nicholls has run in this in the past and has to improve on what he has done of late to get involved it would seem.

A small but select field for the RSA then and More of That is undoubtedly open to further improvement. It's a bit disconcerting, given his history of problems, that he’s not been seen since December, despite having held several entries. No More Heroes has looked every bit as exciting as More of That this season whilst Seeyouatmidnight, Black Hercules and Roi des Francs are all in with a shout too.
2.50 Coral Cup
is well bred out of a Grade 1 chase mare and is a chaser for the future. He showed eye catching form in France but unseated his rider at Cheltenham on 11/12 in a Class 3 NH novices hurdle qualifier when yet to make his effort. He was then a 12 length second of three to Barters Hill at Newbury when the stable were under a cloud. He then went to Exeter and won a 5 runner listed race by 59 lengths and got himself back on track. He's on a mark of 142h but he's open to plenty of improvement and the stable have always held him in high regard so he should go well.

Baoulet Delaroque ran an eye catching race at Enghien in April even though he was still babyish and immature. He was said to have come on a fair bit over the summer and he started reasonably well for this stable at Chepstow when 4th in a Class 5 maiden hurdle. He then went to Doncaster for a race of a similar type and beat Divine Spear and he has since won twice more at Wincanton and Huntingdon. Noel Fehily rides him for the first time and like Politologue is open to further improvement.
Long House Hall had been unbeaten in three races for the stable since arriving from Ireland prior to his fall at Cheltenham. He had been impressive in his wins and the form had been franked. He has plenty of speed and normally jumps well and the stable think quite highly of him. He should like the good to soft going and should give a good account for the stable.
This is one of the most competitive handicaps of the NH season and this year’s renewal promises to be another cracker. Willie Mullins has yet to win it but he looks to have a good chance with Arbre de Vie. He was a good fourth to Martello Tower in the Albert Bartlett here last year and improved again to finish second to Sort It Out in a very strong handicap at Punchestown. Diamond King comes here on the back of a smooth success in a conditions hurdle at Punchestown but is 17 lb higher than when last seen in a handicap. Willie Mullins runs Blood Cotil, Avant Tout and Blazer. 
3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase -
Dodging Bullets is a top class chaser that won three Grade 1 chases last season culminating in him winning this race. He has had some issues since then and he returned in the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase in which he was a disappointing second to Top Gamble. The stable think he is showing all his old signs so he could go off at a generous price to record back to back victories.
Un de Sceaux though will be very hard to beat if producing a clean round of jumping. Sprinter Sacre and Sire de Grugy are the others likely to be there at the business end and Felix Yonger could give his stable mate the most to do.

4.10 Glenfarclas Chase
The Irish have a good record in this race and Josies Orders has now won all three of his completed starts since having his attention turned to cross country races. Balthazar King loves this course but hasn’t been seen out since taking a very heavy fall at the Canal Turn in last year’s Aintree Grand National. Any Currency runs well here as does Sire Collonges and Bless The Wings and Quantitativeeasing are others likely to be there come the finishing kick for home.
4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Romain De Senam
 was an unchallenged 15 length winner at Wincanton on his return where he jumped well. He then ran at Cheltenham and finished 3rd behind Wolf Of Windlesham having failed to settle and diving at a few of his hurdles. He is an improving sort and Nick Schofield takes the ride.

Diego Du Charmil is an unknown quantity to most punters as he is yet to race in Britain. He has a mark of 133 and is a half-brother to last season’s Grade-2 winning novice Days of Heaven. He is said to have been laid out for this and quotes such as "he's a machine" have been bandied around and Sam Twiston Davies takes the ride so you would think he has the best chance of the two Nicholls runners. Whether he can live up to his fav tag is anyone's guess but the stable pulled off a similar punt last year.
Kasakh Noir won a bumper in France over 2m 2f on good going by 8 lengths - quickening up to score easily after kicking clear two out. He opened his account for this stable on his first start when winning a Class 3 juvenile hurdle at Newbury over 2m 69y on soft going. He was very impressive that day leading on the bit two out and cruising he was eased down to a 16 length success. He was then third behind Fixe Le Kap at Newbury at the back end of December and should get the better of him on revised terms before beating Wolfcatcher at Market Rasen. A chaser of the future he will no doubt be back here next season.
This Festival handicap is one of the hardest to work out as so many of the runners are lightly raced and have untapped potential and many will no doubt be back at next years festival and for years to come. Campeador is a French recruit from a top yard, having been purchased by J.P. McManus and sent to Gordon Elliott after a fifteen-length romp at Clairefontaine last summer, and he shaped well in a Grade 2 contest at Leopardstown on Boxing Day when he pulled too hard to see things out but was in contention for a long way and finished only two lengths behind Footpad, who has since won a Grade 1 himself and is Triumph-Hurdle bound. This race was Campeador’s only Cheltenham entry and he looks a big player for his owner.
John Ferguson will be hoping he gets a better run out of Jaleo than he got with his Supreme contender yesterday and this one could have been let in lightly after tearing eleven lengths clear of the consistent Our Thomas at Catterick. 
5.30 Wetherbys Champion Bumper
If you read through the fields of previous Champion Bumper races it reads like the whose who of racing and it's a result that you have to return time and time again.
I have been lucky in this race in the past and I've put up the winners of this race well in advance in the last two years.
High Bridge has been my idea of the winner since his run at Catterick in January when he injected a lethal turn of foot entering the home straight to career away before being eased down for a facile win. Both the second and third won next time out and the 4th Nicholls Be Daring, who helped set the fast pace, was thought to be Listed class by the stable as he had previously finished 2nd to Hobbs Star Trouper who ran Skelton's Mister Mayagi close on his only run this season.
Aiden Coleman thinks High Bridge is his best chance of a winner at the meeting and it would be great for John Ferguson to go out on a high note. Lets hope he is tuned up to run a race.
The horse or stable I fear most is Dermot Weld's and his runner is First Figaro

High Bridge - 0.50 points ew @ 12/1 or better

Diego Du Charmil - 1 point win @ 7/1 with several bookmakers

Good Luck!!

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