It was a good day for us to open Cheltenham Festival with three winners out of five – but it should really have been a fantastic four had Annie Power not fallen at the last. Then again, that’s horse racing.
Douvan, Un De Sceaux, Faugheen and Annie Power looked so impressive yesterday, all turning home up the Cheltenham hill appearing every inch comfortable winners.
Un De Sceaux was most impressive for me. He had all the other horses scrubbed along a long way out and his jumping was once again foot perfect. This horse has surely got a champion chase firmly in its sights for next year.
But enough about yesterday, now for day 2 of the festival, this is where the battle really heats up between punter and bookie. All bookies really did get out of jail with Annie Power crashing at the last, seeing her fall when having the race in the bag would have brought a tear to a glass eye – let’s hope that bit of luck is on our side today.
By Dan Zig – Lead Betting Writer – @burns_daniel
The first race is a real hot contest with all novice racers, an improving horse, or one who just gets its perfect conditions today, could go and make you feel like picking your horses blind-folded with a dart. The horses that stick out for me are Parlour Games, Beast of Burden and NICHOLS CANYON @ 7/2 with Paddy Power. It’s the later I side with due to a few factors – this horse is the Mullins’ first choice with Ruby choosing to take the ride, its form puts it in with a favorites chance and I believe the price would be shorter if it hadn’t unseated Ruby two starts ago – possibly going on to beat Sizing John who placed in yesterday’s Supreme Novice Hurdle.
On the face of it the RSA chase looks a poor renewal this year with no obvious superstars in the field going to battle. KINGS PALACE @ 7/2 with Paddy Power, Don Poli and the young master all have chances. Today I’m siding with the David Pipe’s horse – a mare with course and distance experience and clearly loves it around the undulations of Prestbury Park. The seven-year-old has done everything right in his preparations for today’s race and at the prices is a little bit of value to Don Poli at 7/4.
The champion race of today is the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This year’s renewal has plenty interesting angles; can Sire de Grugy win two years in a row? Can Sprinter Sacre bounce back to its unbelievable best and put all his rivals to the sword as he did two years ago? Can another horse like Mr Mole put in a performance good enough to win? My selection is neither of the leading contenders, I am going for an upset in this race with MR MOLE @ 8/1. I have never been a huge fan of Sire de Grugy, of course bearing in mind he won this race last year, and I just don’t think Sprinter Sacre can get back to its best to win a competitive race like this – I may eat my words. In my eyes this race is prime for a bit of a shock. Mr Mole has put in some cracking performances this year and at the price could be value and can also be backed as an each way. Mr Mole champion chaser… That sounds good to me.
Selections for all of today’s races:
13:30 Cheltenham, 11 Mar 2015 2m 5f Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
14:05 Cheltenham, 11 Mar 2015 3m 110y RSA Chase (Grade 1 Novices’ Chase)
14:40 Cheltenham, 11 Mar 2015 2m 5f Coral Cup (Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle)
15:20 Cheltenham, 11 Mar 2015 2m Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)
16:00 Cheltenham, 11 Mar 2015 3m 7f Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country) (Class 2)
16:40 Cheltenham, 11 Mar 2015 2m 110y Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1)
17:15 Cheltenham, 11 Mar 2015 2m 110y Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1 Standard Open NH Flat Race)