Cheltenham 2021, Day 2 – can the Irish bag more winners on St Patrick’s Day?
By Jonny Browne
Well let’s start with Day 1 – outside the big ones, Appreciate It, Shinskin and the amazing Honeysuckle, we managed to find Vintage Clouds at 28/1 and Black Tears at 11/1 all in the winner’s enclosure.
Aspire Tower at 33/1, Captain Guinness at 10/1 and Coltor at 12/1 all hit each way, so not a bad day all in all if you followed up.
Let’s see if we can get a little more of the rub of the green on St Patrick’s Day.
1:20 – Ballymore Novices Hurdle
There seems to be three potential superstars at the head of the market, Bravemansgame is one of them and looks to have a great chance.
Paul Nicholls rates him as his best chance of the week and was very impressive when winning the Challow Hurdle in December. He comes here fresh and the drying out ground will suit him.
Of the Irish pair of stars, Bob Olinger looks like he could be very special. He won the Lawlor’s of Naas at an absolute canter from Blue Lord (fell at last while in handy 2nd in the Supreme Novice’s yesterday) and has only been beaten once in four starts. You may have to worry about his lack of experience though.
Gaillard du Mesnil won impressively over 2m6f at Leopardstown, however, the Ballymore does have a habit of developing into a bit of a sprint and with the ground improving does he have the turn of foot.
Of the bigger prices, Bear Ghylls could be anything if he can brush up his jumping which is far from guaranteed – but he does have a serious engine
Conclusion – Bravemansgame
Bob Olinger to run well but a lack of experience could be his downfall, Bear Ghylls to hold on on for a place.
1:55 – Brown Advisory Novices Chase (formerly the RSA)
This is very straightforward – Monkfish! Looking at his opposition he must be as much of a certainty as yesterday’s big three.
Eklat De Rire looks solid after his excellent win at Naas in January over Escaria Ten (a good 3rd in Novice chase yesterday) but there’s a slight question mark over his experience, and also his suitability to the ground as it dries out.
Sporting John is an enigma who might be nest avoided, or could give Monkfish a real run for his money, but its hard to hand over your money on him, while second favourite The Big Breakaway is a poor jumper and possibly overrated.
Conclusion – Monkfish looks completely unopposable.
Sporting John each way, as he could be anything.
2:30 – Coral Cup
With You Raise Me Up out of this race, it makes predicting it a little harder.
Botox Has was a good juvenile last year and is two from three at Prestbury Park and has been trained for this race all season and he beat a fancied Allmankind (who was thumped by Shinskin yesterday) on his last visit to Cheltenham.
Thomas Darby will be running off top weight, but big weights have a good record in general in the race and he’s a really classy horse – 2nd in the 2019 Supreme despite bursting blood vessels and could be well in the picture.
Grand Roi is the favourite but not a hot one, while Craighneiche won so impressively at Ascot recently after a 12-month absence and that will stand to him.
A couple of interesting outsiders, and some bookies are paying seven places, Janika who is close to a stone lighter than when he finished second in the plate two years ago, Guard Your Dreams came from last on the bend to 6th and flying in the Betfair Hurdle lately and the ground is probably coming up for him, and lastly Nelson River at 100/1 who looks all the more tempting going up in trip.
Conclusion – Thomas Darby or Botox Has could come up trumps.
Craigneiche could be a worthy each way and Nelson River has to be of interest at that price.
3:05 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Another short-priced favourite in Chacun Pour Soi, even more so now crowd favourite Altior has been withdrawn and that really has taken some of the lustre off this race.
It’s pretty hard to knock holes in him, especially given the dearth of opposition now.
The current champion is Politologue who won the possibly the worst Champion Chase in living memory last year and although he’ll likely run his race – as he always does, it’s hard to see him being good enough.
Nube Negra did defeat Altior at Kempton at Christmas and you would have to be impressed with the way he travelled and sprinted clear. The potential issue is that he might prefer a flatter track.
Put The Kettle On who is two-from-two over course and distance, was no match for Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown, nor was Notebook.
Unbeaten First Flow is an improver but might prefer softer going, while the opposite could be said for both Rouge Vif and Sceau Royal.
Conclusion – Chacun Pour Soi
Assuming the ground is no worse than good to soft, Nube Negra and Sceau Royal may follow in that order.
3:40 – Cross Country Chase
Tiger Roll, the two-time winner of the Grand National, the public’s favourite horse is, and remember this – second favourite for this race.
If anything, this is more a reflection of his brilliant festival (and race) record than anything else. We haven’t seen him at his best since Aintree in 2019 and has been well below what people expect in his last three appearances, which could be down to a crippling rating.
Easysland was hugely impressive in winning this race last year, thrashing Tiger Roll, however, he turned out a below par run of his own in the handicap equivalent of this in November and has not been seen since. It looked like the ground was too quick for him on that occasion and he’ll have similar conditions here.
Some Neck had a course and distance handicap win in December when beating Kingswell Theatre and needed every yard of the trip that day but his form seems solid.
Alpha Des Obeaux is an old boy now but has looked to be crying out for an extreme trip for over two years now and although unexposed to a race like this, could be well in the mix.
Conclusion – Some Neck and Alpha Des Obeaux each way.
4:15 – Grand Annual Handicap Chase
Not That Fuisse looks to have been saved for a tilt at this race and the ground will suit.
On The Slopes had red hot form in novice handicaps last season and a move to the new track (which is less taxing up the hill) might just suit him better.
Sky Pirate is interesting in this race as it looked as if he might be targeted at the Arkle. He carries a lot of weight but is not without chances.
The novice Zanza has a great chance. He was cantering until falling two out in a race won by Sky Pirate in December, while Ibleo (second in that race) is having a career season but has been punished by the handicapper for that.
Zanza is the only one of those three not to have been pushed up in the weights since that race so must be well in.
Joseph O’Brien’s Embittered has been consistent of late without setting the world on fire but may have been competing against a higher standard of field and can’t be dismissed.
Conclusion – Zanza
4:50 – Champion Bumper
The race synonymous with Willie Mullins sees him benefit from the transfer of Sir Gerhardt to his stable from Gordon Elliott’s yard – not that Mullins needed much more help as he is already saddling the favourite Kilcruit.
Much has been made of how the Kilcruit’s superb looking win at Leopardstown might have been deceiving as the race fell apart around him, but it did look fantastic despite the rest of the field.
Sir Gerhardt has been a short price for this for months and his performances, two wins from two, back that up.
Ramillies might look like Willie’s third-string but he has won with his third-string here before, while Three Stripe Light is an unknown but has had a wildly impressive run in its only start.
Conclusion – Take your pick from Kilcruit or Sir Gerhardt
Ramillies each way at current prices. Three Stripe Light might upset the applecart.