To say i’m thoroughly enjoying this year’s festival is an understatement. It’s been brilliant, the action has been absolutely top drawer and what a day it was yesterday betting wise too, winners going in left, right and center, including the mighty Unowhatimeanharry. What an animal he is. Get in.
3.40 – Hunters Chase kicks things off and it’s headed by a pretty special one in Shin A Vee for Mr Barry. This horse is at the tender age of 14 and has won this race for the past few years running and comes in to this one off the back of his usual year long absence following victory in the event last year. I tipped up Enniskillen to win on Tuesday and that he did and he seems to be the main danger to the favourite here having been runner up last year, Jamie Codd will take the ride on him again. I’m going to be siding with the old boy though this time Shin A Vee (2/1) to make another one in this race.
4.20 – Grade A Handicap Chase up now and there’s a few I quite like the look of in this and i’ll start off with Woodland Opera (9/2) for the all conquering Harrington/Power combination. He was very good over hurdles and won at this meeting last year and got off the mark in nice style over fences on his last outing, this is his preferred trip and ground so he certainly has what it takes to be there or thereabouts. The next one I quite like as an each way selection is Le Prezien (7/1) for Paul Nicholls and Mark Walsh. I really fancied this one’s chancies for the Grand Annual at Cheltenham but he didn’t run up to expectations when down the field in eighth. He normally gets in the frame though and put has got some big runs to his name and the ground here might increase his chances of staying the trip. My final each way selection here is Arbre De Vie (14/1) for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. He has been immensely unlucky lately in his last couple being brought down at Fairyhouse and clipping heels at Cheltenham. This isn’t his ideal surface however I think he still has a big run in him and he is Ruby’s choice over his stablemate here.
5.30 Grade 1 Champion Hurdle now and this one is an absolutely smashing contest. Like the Stayers yesterday it’s really give me a headache this one has as it’s filled with horses i’m a big fan of. Petit Mouchoir has certainly had an impressive season with a couple of Grade 1’s to his name and a third placed finish in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham so he certainly has the form to warrant favourtism. Arctic Fire won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham after whilst overcoming a lay off which suggests he’s as good as ever, Brain Power has a couple of Grade 3’s to his name this season for Nicky Henderson and didn’t have the best of luck when losing a shoe in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. We’re all aware that My Tent Or Yours can pull out a big run when he wants as he showed at Cheltenham and was third in this last year. All of these big guns are fairly close to each other in the betting so one I fancy at a price to maybe sneak into the frame is Diakali (12/1) for Willie Mullins, he won extremely well last time out when making all, he obviously faces a much stiffer task here in this company but he might just stretch a few of them out again. The next one i’m going to wack in here is the fruitcake himself in Labaik (14/1), I know your probably thinking get the priory on the phone again, but he’s big odds, he probably won’t start and if he does he’s against much better company than before but you never know, if a few of these are having an off day or feeling the effects of a long season he might just sneak into the frame if he actually starts the race. My main selection for this one though is the mare in the race Vroum Vroum Mag (9/2) for Mullins, Walsh and the Ricci’s. She seemed to be travelling all over them in the Mare’s race at Cheltenham before being out battled into second by Apple’s Jade. She hasn’t been all that impressive this season but she does get the seven pound allowance here and she did win this last year beating Identity Thief and My Tent Or Yours in the process. I’m backing her to bounce back to her best and take this.
6.05 Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle, another top drawer affair now with an abundance of quality in it. Finian’s Oscar heads affair’s for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power following there Grade 1 Mersey Hurdle success at Aintree earlier this month, this one has won five of his starts and if he puts in a repeat of that Aintree run could be very difficult to peg back. He’s up against some top quality opposition though in the likes of Death Duty for Gordon Elliot and Let’s Dance for Willie Mullins. Death Duty was disappointing at Cheltenham when pulled up in the Albert Bartlett whereas Let’s Dance put in a great performance to win the Mares Novice before just being edged out by stablemate Augusta Kate in a Grade 1 last time out. A couple I fancy as each way selection here though are both for Willie Mullins in Bacardys (15/2) and Bleu Berry (16/1). Bacardy’s found trouble in the Neptune at Cheltenham and was pulled up but was tipped up on here at odds of 14/1 when winning the Grade 1 Deloitte. The latter Blue Berry has won his last three and won decisively in a Group 2 last time out and my just sneak into the frame here. Finian’s Oscar (7/4) certainly the one to beat here though and the one i’ll be siding with for the win again following that impressive Aintree victory.