Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Day 2

10 Mar

Tuesday’s card was one for the mares with Epatante and Put the Kettle On successes backing up a fine duel between Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux

Times suggest the ground was pretty gruelling but with a dry night forecast it might be a little better tomorrow.

The Conditional was the star performer for blog selections with a few places elsewhere to back that up. Abacadabras and Fakir d’Oudairies both can be counted slightly unlucky seconds for different reasons

Day 2 is probably a quieter day for me tomorrow but here goes:

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Envoi Allen comes into this race with huge expectation as one of the Irish bankers of the meeting. He won the Bumper here last year and remains unbeaten this season over hurdles

Quotes of 11/10 before Tuesday’s racing quickly evaporated after performances of previous victims Abacadabras and Darver Star enhanced his form again

There are three contenders up against him here who seem to have a lot of untapped potential and could prove troublesome – we just don’t know how good they are yet.


What Envoi Allen does have – and these don’t – is course form/experience and that’s enough for me still to think he is the likeliest winner but with odds on favouritism now looking assured there isn’t much value to be had on him

Sporting John is also unbeaten but hasn’t been competing at the same level as the favourite yet. He has been very impressive in what he has done though.

The Big Breakaway and The Big Getaway are both well named types in that they are going to be dwarfing others in this event. Big horses sometimes find it hard to cope with the undulation of this track so I have small concerns that they might not act on it.

The Big Breakaway really impressed me in his Chepstow debut as a star of the future. However he did reportedly have a setback after his last win in December. That lack of ideal preparation could count against him now

The Big Getaway looks a pure galloper with a huge stride. He was unlucky not to win on his hurdling debut when making a complete mess of the last hurdle (winner Cobblers Way has advertised that form since). He made amends in no uncertain fashion since and should have the soft ground he needs.

Both these two are are only going to get better in time and it would be no surprise to see either/both contesting Gold Cups in a couple of seasons

Outside of these big 4, its also worth noting Longhouse Poet who is owned by the sponsors and has same connections as last years winner. He ran a bit too freely over a longer trip last time. He doesn’t have the form to match Envoi Allen but he could exploit failings in the others to be contending for minor honours here


Envoi Allen much the likeliest winner but too short a price for me to invest

Longhouse Poet is the one with each way potential at the prices – I’d also be interested in him for markets ‘without the fav’ if an each way option is available there ( a good run by him will also be a big pointer for Latest Exhibition’s chances in Friday’s Albert Bartlett)


2.10 RSA Novices Chase

Champ had looked lucky to get round twice before he came a cropper in his last effort here. I hate to see but whilst he has undoubted ability I think he might be a bit thicker than others. Not one I’d want to be supporting on what I have seen this year

Allaho and Easy Game should both be in the shorter March Chase on Thursday for me. I can only assume they have been diverted here to make life easier for the stable’s Faugheen in that race.

Allaho in particular is a lovely type but he was outstayed twice by Minella Indo last year and that one is the obvious one to beat for me.

Minella Indo’s surprise win in the Albert Bartlett was all the more meritorious as he ran freely and had run loose before the race. He confirmed the form was no fluke at Punchestown after.

He is obviously a horse who takes a couple of runs to get fit but his preparation for this looks to be ideal

The stable have already struck twice at this meeting to reinforce his chance some more

Copperhead can compete with him on stamina but I don’t think he can quite match him for class




2.50 Coral Cup

A very tricky handicap as always and not one to risk the house on!

Look for firms offering extra places on a race like this.

Canardier is interesting now back over hurdles after a fruitless time in novice chases

He was 5th in the race last year from a 4lb lower mark and there might well be improvement now in his first race for the Willie Mullins stable.

The ground on Tuesday may have been a bit too soft for him but with a bit of overnight drying could come in his favour

At a slightly bigger price, a speculative selection is Black Tears.

This one has good course form and here best runs have seemed to come in big field races run at a good pace. She should get her optimum conditions here.

At first I thought her mark of 144 was high enough but Tuesday’s run of her recent conqueror Elfile has given the form a nice boost.


Small ew bet on BLACK TEARS at 16/1+


3.30 Champion Chase

The withdrawal of Altior from this race on Tuesday has taken the gloss slightly off one of the clashes of the week

This still leaves a mouth watering face-off between Defi du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi

Chacun Pur Soi came out best of these two in their only clash at Punchestown last season. That was at the end of a long season for the latter. The winner did have less experience though.

Chacun’s last win over Min had time watchers purring and it could be the top piece of 2 mile form this season

Defi du Seuil hasn’t put a foot wrong this season and there is every suggestion in his last win that he is still improving. He does seem to be delivering late to make use of his turn of foot. The lack of Altior’s finishing punch in this race has enhanced his chance greatly as I think he may be able to sit behind his main rival now

The other 4 runners are all solid types but everything suggests they are just a little behind the two main protagonists

There is no recommendation for me on this race – it’s a race to watch and savour.

I can make valid cases for both of the big two to win but if a gun was put to my head I would pick Defi Du Seuil. This is simply because he has course form and his main rival doesn’t.


4.10 Cross Country Chase

Regular followers of the blog will know this isn’t a race for me.

Tiger Roll will of course be one of the most popular winners of the week. He is no certainty though with French challenger Easysland in opposition. The latter won over theses unconventional fences earlier in the season and was bought by JP McManus subsequently. The caution here comes from the jockey. Monsieur Plouganou was ‘hailing a cab’ at many fences and if I supported him here I think I may have to watch from behind the sofa! (same rider worth watching on Toutancarmont in 2015 to see he is a risky venture – a race that Nina Carberry won’t be forgetting in a hurry!)



4.50 Boodles Juvenile Hcap

A favourite old stats based pick for me here was finding the best Flat rated horse in the race.

The problem this year is that there aren’t that many that actually have a flat rating. Normally something 90+ on the flat would stick out. This year the highest rated would be Zoffee (85) and nothing else rated more than 77. This is comparatively low  and only 11 others (including the two reserves) actually have a rating

The influence of French breds and French provincial form on this race is responsible and its hard to judge who is well in on that

Mick Pastor cost JP MacManus a small fortune and it didn’t look money well spent on his first run. He has looked better since but has also been rewarded with top weight

This isn’t a race I’d be confident in but I like Repetitio’s course efforts this season and his form has an upward curve.

Nigel Hawke woudn’t be the most fashionable of trainers but he had Tiger Roll earlier in his career. I’m sure he knows how to get one ready for this

There may be something lurking in the French breds who is better handicapped but I’ll stick to what I have actually seen here


REPETITIO each way – again a tough handicap so smaller stakes with 16/1+ if possible

5.30 Champion Bumper

Appreciate It looked a really classy individual last time when routing the opposition at Leopardstown. (Envoi Allen won same race last year)

I really cant oppose him on that and I think he is probably a better bet than Envoi Allen in the opener.

The Glancing Queen was 5th last year when a selection on this blog. She was meant to be hurdling this season but suffered a setback. I have a lot of respect for this mare and if on song she can certainly compete at this level. The layoff and preparation are a big concern though

However given the strength of last years Bumper form a small saver may be worth going in her direction


APPRECIATE IT is hard to oppose and I suspect the biggest danger here is the large field which could cause traffic problems.


Thanks for reading once more – and good luck



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Posted by on March 10, 2020 in Uncategorized


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