Cheltenham Festival Blog & Tips. (Day 2)

Wednesday 15th March 2023

Author: Jordan Yates (EvRacing_)

Welcome aboard to the Day Two blog of this 2023 Cheltenham Festival, where kicking things off will be the 1:30 again which this time comes in the form of the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices Hurdle which is contested over two miles and five furlongs. The race is currently headed by a horse who could well be a potential superstar in Impaire Et Passe for Willie Mullins, he’s looked very impressive so far and has been the best bet of several high-profile pundits for the meeting. It’s likely he’ll be tough to beat, however, I have tried to take him on though and I’ve done so with his stablemate in Gaelic Warrior at 5/1 who’s set to be ridden by Patrick Mullins. He arrives here having won all three of his outings this season since just being touched off in the Boodles here last year, on what was his first run for the yard. His most recent success came when putting in a stellar weight-carrying performance to take a competitive handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival, and he’s a horse that I think still has a huge amount of potential. The concern would be his jumping here, however, he’s the best horse in the race with a huge engine and a bold showing would be no surprise for me at all. 

We move onto the 2:10 now which is more Grade 1 action in the form of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase that’s ridden over three miles and a half of a furlong. I think that this can to go the unbeaten Gerri Colombe who’s currently trading at a best price of 13/8 for Gordon Elliott and Jordan Gainford. As stated, he comes into the race boasting a perfect record of seven wins from seven outings, with his last two victories being back-to-back Grade 1s. Most recently, he traveled over to the UK to contest the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown, where for a moment he looked in trouble in the back straight when getting caught for speed. He proved that day though that he’s all about stamina, as he picked the lead back up when turning from home and went clear of the smart Balco Coastal. This trip looks very much up his street, and if getting a clean round in the jumping department I think that he’s the one that they all have to beat.

The 2:50 is the third race of the day, which is the Coral Cup over two miles and five furlongs on the old course. This is another big competitive handicap where a case can be made for most of the field, I’ve taken a chance on Camprond though who’s currently an 8/1 chance for Aidan Coleman and Phillip Hobbs. I actually put him up for the race last year, where the ground went against him but he still ran a cracking race to finish fourth. He followed up that effort by winning a big handicap at the Punchestown Festival when winning impressively by three lengths. I think it’s safe to say that he’s been nowhere near his best this term, and there could be an argument to be had about his mindset toward the game. That being said, he’s dropped to a very tempting mark, three pounds lower than the one he contested the race off last year. If he still retains some enthusiasm as well as ability, he’s got every chance of going well off this weight.

The feature race comes up at 3:30 which is of course the Queen Mother Champion Chase which is the most prestigious two-mile chase in the National Hunt calendar. The Grade One affair has been won by some all-time greats and this year’s renewal has thrown up another fascinating contest. I think that it can go to the reigning champion from last year in Energumene at 7/4 for Paul Townend and Willie Mullins. He’s got to get the better of the brilliant Edwardstone this time around, but I think he’s got enough ability in his locker to do just that. He was odds-on for this race for a long while before disappointing in the Clarence House in January, however, I think that the tactics were wrong that day and I believe he’ll sit a little bit closer to the pace on this occasion. He’s already won four Grade 1s, which as stated previously one of those coming when taking this race last year by the tune of eight and a half lengths. I think that he’s a class act, the best horse in this race, and if bouncing back to anywhere near his best he’ll prove very tough to beat.

My final selection on Day Two comes in the 4:10 which is the Cross Country Chase that’s ridden over a distance of three miles and six furlongs. The race is the most unique event of the meeting, with its specialist track and undulating conditions, and in this year’s renewal of the race, Gordon Elliott seemingly holds the key. I think that this is all about Delta Work at 5/4 who’s my NAP of the day two, he’s a Grade One winner over fences and was the winner of this race twelve months ago when he spoiled the party by getting the better of fan favourite Tiger Roll. He’s had a solid campaign so far this season, winning on his seasonal reappearance at Punchestown before finishing third in a Cross Country race at this track in December and then most recently a prep in the Boyne Hurdle. His stablemate Galvin represents a very live danger, but I think that his experience in these races now will give him an edge and he should prove very difficult to beat.

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