Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Cheltenham Festival Day Two: Wednesday 16th March 2022 - It’s a Bravemansgame on Day Two

After wonderful start to the Festival featuring some lightning times on the drying ground, the action doesn’t exactly take a downturn on Wednesday as we look for more betting success.

1.30 (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1) – SIR GERHARD

We’re loathe to actually tip too many odds-on shots, but in the hope that Sir Gerhard drifts towards being backable and with multiples in mind, he remains our selection for the opener.

Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore were at it again on Tuesday as they trained and partnered Honeysuckle to another fantastic Champion Hurdle success and their Journey With Me has a shout here. Like Honeysuckle this gelding is unbeaten thus far, doing things ever so easily in two hurdle runs to date.

Sir Gerard however could just be a cut above. Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old has a bit of experience now which could come in handy, he turned over the well-fancied Kilcruit in last year’s Champion Bumper (third in the Arkle on Tuesday) and was mightily impressive in Grade 1 company last time.

2.10 (Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase – Grade 1) – BRAVEMANSGAME 

This extended three-mile chase is a terrific trial for the Gold Cup so whatever happens, keep the result in mind when next year rolls around.

There are plenty of shrewd punters getting on Lucinda Russell’s Ahoy Senor and Venetia Williams’ L’Homme Presse and we can see why.

Ahoy Senor was a very good winner of the Towton Novices’ at Wetherby and should appreciate this event for the Corach Rambler trainer/jockey combo, while L’Homme Presse is unbeaten in four chases including a Grade 1.

Paul Nicholls, let’s not forget, is making deliberate strides at the Festival now to go with quality over quantity and he me be rewarded with a win for Bravemansgame.

The Ditcheat trainer knows his onions and has always been very, very keen on this horse, even comparing him to Denman.

He too is four from four over fences, beating Ahoy Senor along the way, and will have been trained to peak right now and not a moment before.

2.50 (Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – CAMPROND 

Another cracking renewal of the Coral Cup. This is the classic cavalry charge over 2m5f, fully 26 runners taking on these ten hurdles.

There are plenty in with chances then with the likes of McFabulous, The Shunter and Unexpected Party expected to play some part.

The two we take against the field however are Saint Felicien and Camprond. The former, trained by Gordon Elliott, was beaten last time but remains on the upgrade and may be well handicapped.

Camprond represents JP McManus, Philip Hobbs, Aidan Coleman and the best form line and is our selection.

The form line we refer to is November’s Greatwood Hurdle in which Camprond was fourth, though he was also an easy winner on good ground before that on the Old Course over 2½ miles.

He’ll appreciate going back up in trip here, he remains unchanged on a mark of 140 and yet has no doubt improved plenty since he last took to the track.

3.30 (Queen Mother Champion Chase – Grade 1) – SHISHKIN

The big championship race of the day is seen as a match between Shishkin and Energumene and it may just play out that way.

Put The Kettle On has won this twice and Politologue once, yet they are around 33/1 and 66/1 respectively which shows you how full of quality the event is.

Chacun Pour Soi remains one of the best in the business and went off 8/13 favourite for this last year, but he is ten years old now and may have been overtaken despite his own good recent form.

Energumene has been imperious and went off 5/4 against Shishkin in the Clarence House in January. He was once again at his best in that ding-dong battle but ultimately lost his unbeaten chase record after the big dog wore him down late on.

In staying on as he did up what is factually a tougher hill than that at Cheltenham, and having won the Arkle in wonderful style last year, Shishkin has shown more toughness and more class than anything in the division.

Using all variables including speed, we get Shishkin around 4lbs ahead of Energumene which is what he may have been at Ascot had he not pecked on landing at one fence and he deserves to be favourite in a hot race.

4.10 (Cross Country Chase – Class 2) – EASYSLAND 

Headline-wise this is all about Tiger Roll. The dual Grand National and five-time Cheltenham Festival winner is a short price to score yet again after returning to form in this very race last year.

He will have been prepared to give his all before retiring and trainer Gordon Elliott was said to be very pleased with him after a recent workout, but the fact is that you can’t stop them regressing and he remains vulnerable.

Easysland, his conqueror back in 2020, has switched from France to Jonjo O’Neill’s yard and they may have just produced something here.

He’s been sent over hurdles twice, pulling up each time, but this is really his game and at just eight years old it’s safe to say he has plenty more to give yet.

Delta Work is going backwards too but still remains capable at this level, while Brahma Bull may also go well.

4.50 (Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase – Grade 3) – THYME WHITE 

We mentioned earlier Paul Nicholls’ change of tactics for this meeting and he has another outstanding chance in this two-mile handicap chase.

There are plenty of others in contention, not least Editeur Du Gite and Elixir De Nutz, but there is plenty to like about Nicholls’ Thyme Whyte and he gets the vote.

5.30 (Weatherbys Champion Bumper – Grade 1) – REDEMPTION DAY

Don’t be forced to have a bet, and we wouldn’t place a serious one in this race. Facile Vega is all the rage while some fancy American Mike against him and both are short prices.

If we were pricing this up, we’d go 9/4 Facile Vega (around 13/8 actually), 3/1 American Mike (5/2) and 4/1 Redemption Day (6/1).

Based on those numbers and purely on the grounds of value, we recommend a very small wager on Willie Mullins’ Redemption Day.

Should the Mullins second string improve from race one to race two as they often can, then he could easily have a better than one in four chance, making his price of around 6/1 fair to have just a tickle on him in the last race of the day.

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