The first day of the Cheltenham Festival lived up to expectations as it always does. Constitution Hill was outstanding as was Honeysuckle. Let's hope they meet at Leopardstown.
The ground was quick yesterday and maybe a bit too lively looking at the times. 5mil has been put on overnight whilst rain is forecast through the day.
Day 2 starts with the Ballymore and the odds-on favourite Sir Gerhard who runs in this rather than the Supreme. It’s very hard to oppose him, the one doubt is perhaps the trip, but Willie doesn’t get much wrong and he’ll take a lot of beating. Journey With Me & Stage Star might offer EW value but I think the jolly will get the big hitters off to a good start, he looks a good thing to me.
It’s impossible to fault Bravemansgame in the Brown Advisory at 2:10. The Paul Nicholls runner has been very impressive this season and is 4-4 over a fence.
I find it interesting he’s been kept to flat tracks plus all four wins this year have come in races with just four runners. I’m not sure much can be ruled into that, but the undulations of Cheltenham will be very different to what he’s used to.
L’Homme Presse steps up in trip because of the quicker ground, three miles is an unknown but the horse shapes as he’ll get the trip. This will be his hardest task to date, but there could be more to come and he’s a brilliant jumper. The yard isn’t in great form which is a worry.
Capodanno is fascinating, his best hurdle form came over three miles, Willie Mullins looks to have saved the step up in trip for this race. His second to Bob Olinger is v smart form, the unseated rider on his last start is a little worry. Capodanno can hit the odd one, but the slower pace of three miles will help. He’s unexposed and odds of 7-1 are worth taking EW.
The lucky pin is required for the Coral Cup. Saint Felicien could be high class in time and end up much better than his rating. The race looks to have been the plan all season. He might just be better than this grade.
Bookies are paying 7 places and a couple 8 if you shop around. Because of this, I’ll also risk a couple of quid on Dans Le vent EW at 33-1. If they go flat out and Dans Le Vent can keep within striking distance, he’ll be coming home better than most. More rain the better for him.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the big race of the day. I’m with Energumene and think he might force Shishkin into errors. Today’s race is a furlong less than Ascot where Shishkin looked outpaced at one point and needed the extra furlong.
There is also a lot more time at Ascot between fences and they don’t come down hill as they do at Cheltenham. If Shishkin is within a few lengths coming down the hill, he’ll probably win, but I think he’ll hit a flat spot and if making an error, Energumene will be away. That’s the way I think things could turn out, Energumene wins for me. Nube Negra looks overpriced at 18-1 and could fill a place.
It would be fantastic if Tiger Roll could win the Cross Country then have a happy retirement. The roof would come off he did so. I hope he wins but EW plays, Diesel D’Allier who will give you a good run for your money and Plan Of Attack. 16-1 and 20-1.
The word is J P McManus is backing his horse, Andy Dufresne in the Grand Annual, 6-1 at the moment. He’s got a fair weight to shoulder, but a big run looks on the cards.
Bumpers aren’t really races to get heavily involved in. Facile Vega has looked very smart in his two runs so far and a potential superstar in the making.
Do watch your bets if plenty of the wet stuff falls, the ground will change quickly on top of a watered surface.