CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL: Day 2 tips including Queen Mother Champion Chase
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TIPS – DAY TWO: All the best bets for Wednesday as Energumene and Edwardstone resume rivalries in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, while The Real Whacker can strike for Patrick Neville
- Champion Chase Lowdown: Edwardstone can strike again for trainer King
- Click here for the latest Cheltenham Festival news, schedule and race results
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the feature race of day two at the Cheltenham Festival
Old adversaries Edwardstone and Energumene resume rivalries to provide a classic Britain v Ireland contest.
Irish trainers held sway on a breathless opening day at Presbury Park, winning five of the seven races.
But trainer Alan King can strike back for the home team with Edwardstone, last year’s Arkle winner who boasts all the credentials to take today’s big race — a furious contest over the minimum chase distance of two miles.
Sportsmail brings you our racing experts’ tips ahead of day two of Cheltenham Festival with selections from Britain’s No 1 tipster Sam Turner, National Hunt legend Peter Scudamore and former Grade One winning jockeys Lizzie Kelly and Mick Fitzgerald.
Edwardstone and Energumene resume rivalries in the Queen Mother Champion Chase
1.30 BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE
Willie Mullins saddles four of the 10 runners, which suggests the quartet may be of similar ability judged on homework.
So, with conditions likely to favour those blessed with stamina, CHAMP KIELY could prove some value to topple those at the head of the market.
Fourth in the Royal Bond Hurdle when a little keen, the selection kept on gamely from the front to win a Naas Grade One in January, displaying a great attitude to see off a subsequent winner, and makes some appeal on his favoured ground.
Stablemate IMPAIRE ET PASSE has been all the rage in the antepost market, with bullish vibes from his Closutton stable. If his talent matches the hype, he could prove a tough nut to crack, while MASTER CHEWY is an enormous price but boasts plenty of talent and could reward the value seekers.
SELECTION : CHAMP KIELY 8-1
MAIN DANGER: IMPAIRE ET PASSE 15-8
LIVE OUTSIDER: MASTER CHEWY 150-1
HERMES ALLEN (nap)
IMPAIRE ET PASSE
IMPAIRE ET PASSE
2.10 BROWN ADVISORY NOVICES’ CHASE
In THE REAL WHACKER, trainer Patrick Neville clearly has a horse capable of competing at the top level, an opinion crystalised by the decision to enter him as a novice in this year’s Boodles Gold Cup.
An unconsidered 10-1 chance for both of his Cheltenham successes this term, the market has finally woken up to the abilities of the son of Mahler, who possesses all the attributes required to hand his talented trainer a fairytale hat-trick at Cheltenham.
His appetite for jumping, confirmed stamina and love for Prestbury Park are three brilliant attributes, while the rhythm he has found in his two previous visits could make him tricky to overhaul.
Favourite GERRI COLOMBE has been touted as a future Gold Cup candidate by his handler and will be tough to beat, while THUNDER ROCK has a chance at a tall price.
SELECTION: THE REAL WHACKER 6-1
MAIN DANGER: GERRI COLOMBE 13-8
LIVE OUTSIDER: THUNDER ROCK 20-1
THE REAL WHACKER
GALIA DES LITEAUX
ADAMANTLY CHOSEN (e/w)
GERRI COLOMBE (nap)
2.50 CORAL CUP HANDICAP HURDLE
GOOD RISK AT ALL was made favourite for this race last year, but narrowly failed to make the final line-up, so could gain compensation 12 months later.
The recent rainfall will play to the selection’s strengths and the return to today’s trip is also a major plus, as he did not appear to get home over three miles at Haydock last time when finishing sixth. He ought to be on the premises.
RUN FOR OSCAR, the winner of the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket on the Flat in the autumn, is also a very talented hurdler as he proved when finishing third at both Haydock and Punchestown before the turn of the year.
LANGER DAN has been targeted at Cheltenham Festival handicaps for the last three years and Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old is another that is likely to be fully tuned-up for today’s test.
SELECTION: GOOD RISK AT ALL 12-1 (nap)
MAIN DANGER: RUN FOR OSCAR 9-1
LIVE OUTSIDER: LANGER DAN 11-1
GOOD RISK AT ALL (nap)
RUN FOR OSCAR
3.30 CHAMPION CHASE
EDWARDSTONE ended a Festival drought of seven years for trainer Alan King in last season’s Arkle Chase and the nine-year-old can strike again on jumping’s biggest stage.
The Arkle has often proved a profitable pointer for this event, and the selection warmed up for this afternoon’s assignment with an encouraging effort in the rearranged Clarence House Chase at the end of January.
Reported to be in need of the run, Edwardstone was set a stiff task by rider Tom Cannon, who afforded the front-running Editeur Du Gite plenty of rope at the head of affairs and was forced to expend valuable petrol to close down the pacesetter late on. That effort took its toll in the dying strides, but it was a highly encouraging display, and he should strip sharper mentally and physically today.
ENERGUMENE, a further six-and-a-half lengths adrift, was left trailing by a bad error at the final fence, but he is capable of brilliance on his day and that deficit looks sure to be narrowed granted a better round of fencing. Last year’s runner-up FUNAMBULE SIVOLA could pick up some pieces late on.
SELECTION: EDWARDSTONE 6-4
MAIN DANGER: ENERGUMENE 13-8
LIVE OUTSIDER: FUNAMBULE SIVOLA 40-1
EDITEUR DU GITE
4.10 GLENFARCLAS CROSS X-COUNTRY CHASE
DELTA WORK lowered the colours of crowd favourite Tiger Roll in this event 12 months and, with the recent rain playing to his strengths, should make a bold bid to successfully defend his crown.
While last year’s reception in the winner’s enclosure may have been muted for Delta Work, his subsequent performance when third in the Grand National was anything but and his two runs since Christmas have suggested he remains capable of running to a high level.
Stablemate GALVIN acquitted himself with credit in the Gold Cup 12 months ago and ought to find this test and change of discipline to his liking. He disappointed in the Savills Chase but the prospect of better ground on the X-Country course should suit. BACK ON THE LASH would have preferred the rain to have missed Cheltenham, but he loves this track.
SELECTION: DELTA WORK 5-4
MAIN DANGER: GALVIN 5-2
LIVE OUTSIDER: BACK ON THE LASH 18-1
DELTA WORK (nap)
4.50 GRAND ANNUAL HANDICAP CHASE
COEUR SUBLIME would not be the heartiest battler to have ever set foot on a racecourse, but he remains a class act when in the mood and should give promising conditional Ben Harvey a good spin back in handicap company.
I fancied the eight-year-old to win this race 12 months ago off a mark of 151, so the decision by connections to run in the Arkle Chase left me baffled.
However, everything comes to those that wait and the eight-year-old can prove that a head defeat by Blue Lord at Punchestown last April was no fluke and he wi l l indeed relish the likelihood of a frenetic gallop and big field.
ANDY DUFRESNE has form figures which look more like a Wi-Fi code this term but the first-time tongue tie may be the catalyst to a better showing, while MASKADA will love the ground and may be finishing better than some.
SELECTION: COEUR SUBLIME 12-1
MAIN DANGER: ANDY DUFRESNE 13-2
LIVE OUTSIDER: MASKADA 25-1
ELIXIR DE NUTZ
A WAVE OF THE SEA
5.30 WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER
With 10 of the 24 runners, Willie Mullins may be attracting the attention of the monopolies and mergers commission here.
If the multiple Champion trainer cannot work out which of his battalion has the best chance, there is not much hope for us mere mortals, but FACT TO FILE is the choice of his son, Patrick, and can build on the promise of his second behind likely favourite A Dream To Share at Leopardstown.
The deeper ground may play more to the strengths of the selection, who has clearly got huge stamina reserves having previously scored over two-and-a-half miles at the Dublin venue.
WESTERN DIEGO was another to create a good impression in victory at Naas on his last start and is shortlisted, while FASCILE MODE, fourth to A Dream To Share at Leopardstown, could be worth a speculative punt.
SELECTION: FACT TO FILE 5-1
MAIN DANGER: WESTERN DIEGO 16-1
LIVE OUTSIDER: FASCILE MODE 40-1
FACT TO FILE
QUEENS GAMBLE (e/w)
A DREAM TO SHARE
IT’S FOR ME
FUN FUN FUN
Your best chance of beating the bookies this week is to stick with Sportsmail’s brilliant team of tipsters, led all the way through the Festival by National Hunt legend Peter Scudamore and former Grade One winning jockeys Lizzie Kelly and Mick Fitzgerald. . .
PETER SCUDAMORE (EIGHT-TIME CHAMPION JOCKEY)
The Festival ground is softer than many of us thought it would be a few weeks ago and that will be a positive for Dan Skelton-trained GALIA DES LITEAUX in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
She was impressive on heavy ground when winning her last run at Warwick in January and although there is a pulled up in her form this season, that came after she made a bad jumping mistake at Kempton on Boxing Day which was out of character.
Generally, Galia Des Liteaux’s jumping has been very good with Harry Skelton on board and, being a mare, she also receives a very useful 7lb allowance from her male opponents.
Willie Mullins has a mind-boggling 10 runners in the last race of the day, the Festival Bumper, which is an amazingly strong hand for the Irish champion trainer.
But don’t dismiss John McConnell-trained Encanto Bruno. He’s been saved for this race since being an impressive winner over course and distance at Cheltenham’s October meeting.
LIZZIE KELLY (FESTIVAL WINNING JOCKEY)
NEWBURY’S Challow Hurdle has thrown up some good winners in recent years, including today’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase hope Thyme Hill and Friday’s Boodles Gold Cup contender Bravemansgame.
This season’s Paul Nicholls-trained winner Hermes Alle n looks well up to that standard and he can prove that in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Nicholls has made no secret of how much he thinks of Hermes Allen and, equally tellingly, jockey Harry Cobden has described the gelding as the best novice hurdler he has ridden.
The Challow Hurdle form has also been franked, with runner-up You Wear It Well easily winning a decent race since. The fourth and fifth-placed finishers have also won since the Challow. That race was run on soft ground, which means today’s going holds no fears for Hermes Allen. He is also a fair price due to Willie Mullins having some popular runners.
MICK FITZGERALD (PADDY POWER AMBASSADOR)
IMPAIRE ET PASSE is a really good horse and should have no trouble stepping up in trip in this afternoon’s Ballymore Novices’, despite winning over two miles at Punchestown last time.
Last season, Sir Gerhard was an impressive winner of the Ballymore and he made a winning debut over fences. I was impressed with him and he looks a value bet in the Brown Advisory contest. Langa r Dan has not had much luck at Cheltenham since finishing runner-up in the Martin Pipe Hurdle two seasons ago. He’s still well handicapped.
Delta Work revelled in the soft conditions over the Cross Country course last year when beating Tiger Roll and can deny his stablemate Galvin now. Elixir De Nutz has been contesting graded races and has improved with age. He looks a good each-way bet in a competitive Grand Annual field.
In the Champion Bumper, there’s a good backstory to the well-fancied A Drea m To Sha re and it would be remarkable for his octogenarian trainer John Kiely if he managed to win it.
MARCUS TOWNEND (CAPTAIN HEATH)
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase is an Irish benefit and Gordon Elliott, who has won four of the last six runnings, can come up trumps again with his 2022 winner DELTA WORK .
There are plenty of runners in this race but it is one of the least competitive and most of them will struggle to lay a glove on Keith Donoghue’s mount. Delta Work was a bit of a villain last year in this race last year when he beat the much-loved dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll, who was running for the last time.
Delta Work subsequently finished third in the Grand National and, while he was beaten almost five lengths by Back On The Lash here in January, that was a handicap and he gave that rival 23lb. Today they meet on level terms.
Delta Work’s biggest challenge may turn out to be his stablemate Galvin, who was fourth in last year’s Gold Cup and is reunited with Davy Russell after the jockey came out of his brief retirement.
Hermes Allen takes on Impaire Et Passe in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on Wednesday
HORSE OF THE DAY: Hermes Allen
Race: Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm).
Trainer: Paul Nicholls.
Jockey: Harry Cobden.
Why should we watch?
Many racehorse owners could walk past you on the street and you would not know who they were, but that is not true for one of the three men emotionally invested in Hermes Allen: Sir Alex Ferguson. Plenty of eyes will be on him as the action unfolds.
The opening race of day two often produces winners that go on to have spectacular futures — Istabraq (1997) and Faugheen (2014) to name just two — and this 10-strong field is packed with potential.
What has he achieved so far?
Since making his racecourse debut at Stratford in October, Hermes Allen has continually shocked Ferguson, his other co-owners Ged Mason and John Hales, and trainer Paul Nicholls. They did not know what to expect that first day but Hermes Allen won unchallenged by 27 lengths. From there, he went to the Cheltenham November meeting and demolished a good field by nine lengths. His best effort came at Christmas, however, when he obliterated his rivals in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury. It was a performance that told you this six-year-old gelding had the talent to win at the biggest festival of all.
What do they say about him?
Ferguson is known to be particularly sweet on Hermes Allen’s ability, and the enthusiasm he fosters is shared by Nicholls, who has dominated British jump racing in the manner that Ferguson’s Manchester United teams used to dominate the Premier League.
‘He’s been a revelation so far this season,’ Nicholls purred. ‘He looks in great nick and he is progressive. I was worried to death at Stratford — he was just getting his act together and I didn’t know what we had! He is now a very good horse.’
Can he be stopped?
As good as Hermes Allen is, this is not a one-horse race. Far from it. It is no exaggeration to say that any of his nine rivals have the ability to win today’s race but the most dangerous is Impaire Et Passe, trained by Willie Mullins. A lot of shrewd judges have been talking this fellow up. What a clash this could be.
THE WIZARD OF ODDS
THUNDER ROCK 20/1 (2.10)
Has chased home both Gerri Colombe (in Grade One company) and The Real Whacker this season over two-and-a-half miles, yet is a much bigger price despite performing highly creditably. Bred to enjoy today’s step up in trip and could outrun his tasty odds.
SCARAMANGA 40/1 (2.50)
Given his price, victory for the eight-year-old could see him cast as villain of the piece by punters. However, his chance may be better than his odds suggest, given he enjoyed a warm-up in a charity event last month. This race represents his debut over hurdles for Willie Mullins and he could just surprise.
MASKADA 25/1 (4.50)
Proven over a trip further than today’s, Maskada should relish the ground and looks worth chancing at a big price following her career-best effort over fences at Limerick just after Christmas. She did not fire at Leopardstown last time, but slower ground and a drop in trip should see her run well.
THE PLACEPOT MOLE
The Placepot involves selecting a horse to place in races one to six, with the chance of winning large payouts from small stakes. All the money staked goes into a pool which is then divided between the winners. If you choose more than one horse in each race, that increases the number of bets, or permutations, that you have. These are our picks for today . . .
RACE ONE Champ Kiely (No 2)/Impaire Et Passe (7)
RACE TWO Gerri Colombe (4)/The Real Whacker (8)
RACE THREE Run For Oscar (3)/Good Risk At All (11)/HMS Seahorse (12)
RACE FOUR Edwardstone (3)/Energumene (4)
RACE FIVE Delta Work (4)
RACE SIX Andy Dufresne (1)/Coeur Sublime (2)/ Third Time Lucki (4)/ Global Citizen (19)
Perm = 96 lines x 10p
TOTAL STAKE: £9.60
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