Lois’ Day 2 Preview/Selections:
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle:
Samcro is currently 4/6 (Ladbrokes) to keep his unbeaten record and win the Ballymore. His last win was the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. Granted, he didn’t beat anything ‘special’, but the style this horse has when winning puts him way above the others in this field for sure. Gordon Elliott’s 6 year old will be looking to make it 6/6 tomorrow with Jack Kennedy taking the ride at 11st 7lbs.
Next Destination looks to be Samcro’s nearest competitor. He is 3/3 over hurdles so far and comes to Cheltenham off the back of winning the Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) in January. Next Destination will have no issues regarding the soft ground and he likes the trip. If Samcro wasn’t in the field he would be the favourite. He’s currently 7/2 for the Ballymore tomorrow for W P Mullins and Ruby Walsh at 11st 7lbs.
RSA Novice’ Chase:
Presenting Percy is a 7yr old gelding trained by Patrick Kelly. He’s currently the 9/4 favourite for the RSA Novices Chase after being 2nd to none other than last year’s Irish National victor, Our Duke, in the Red Mills Chase (Grade 2) at Gowran Park on February 17th. The soft ground will not be a worry for him, despite maybe wanting it a tad quicker. He’ll be ridden by Davy Russell at 11st 4lbs.
Monalee has won both the races over fences that he has completed, including the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown when he beat Al Boum Photo who re-opposes in the RSA tomorrow. His best price around currently is 7/2. The soft ground isn’t a worry for him as most of his runs have come on poor surfaces. Monalee is trained by Henry De Bromhead and will be ridden by Noel Fehily at 11st 4lbs.
Black Corton is a real favourite of many. Ridden by Bryony Frost (11st 4lbs) and trained by Paul Nicholls, this horse appears to have a huge chance if he’s able to repeat the form shown in his impressive Sodexo Reynoldstown Novice’s chase (Grade 1) win. He’s currently 15/2 but will probably shorten tomorrow when the support comes in. Black Corton may be small but he’s a real tough cookie who won’t lay down easily. One to watch even if he doesn’t win tomorrow.
Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle:
Max Dynamite comes from Ireland and the Willie Mullins yard for the Coral Cup and is 7-1 for the Handicap Hurdle. He has a good flat handicap mark as this horse is incredibly versatile. Interestingly he’s the chosen ride of Ruby Walsh, despite not having run over jumps in 223 days. He was last seen finishing 6th in the Hong Kong Vase (Group 1) over 1m 4F in December. He will be carrying 11st.
TopOfTheGame is a really interesting 6yr old gelding, trained by Paul Nicholls. He’s gone up 8lbs since his win last time out in a Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle, where he showed a real tenacious attitude to stay on to win despite the stamina-sapping soft ground. He’s currently 12-1 for the Coral Cup (Very generous in my opinion). Clearly Cheltenham’s ground tomorrow won’t hinder this horse at all and he will be staying on at the finish. He’ll be carrying 11st 9lbs in the form of Sam Twiston-Davies.
William Henry is trained by Nicky Henderson and he won at Kempton in January last time out (Lanzarote Hurdle) in soft ground. James Bowen rides and takes off 3lbs, but after his latest win, he’s gone up by 6lbs making his weight for tomorrow 11st 10lbs. He is currently 8-1 for the Coral Cup and goes in headgear for the first time.
Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase:
Realistically there isn’t much to say about Altior. He’s looked superior in 12/12 of his starts over obstacles. He goes about his races very professionally and looks hard to beat at this stage. He’s trained by Nicky Henderson and will be ridden by Nico De Boinville (11st 10lbs). Altior is the 11/10 favourite.
Min is a top class chaser and showed that in his latest win at Leopardstown in the Grade 2 Dublin Chase when beating Simply Ned and Special Tiara by 12 lengths. Paul Townend takes the ride at 11st 10lbs.
Douvan was last seen in this race 12 months ago when sustaining a pelvic injury. That was his first defeat in his 10 chase runs. If truly back to his best, he’ll be a key player to this Champion Chase but I would have to question whether he’s 100% fit due to the fact that he hasn’t had a prep run. The market says he’ll go close and places him as the 3-1 second favourite. Ruby Walsh rides Douvan (rather than Min) at 11st 10lbs.
Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase:
Cause Of Causes:
Cause of Causes is the stand-out horse in this field as he was the 9 length winner of this race last year. He stands a huge chance of making this his fourth straight Festival success for Gordon Elliott. Jamie Codd takes the ride at 11st 4lbs and Cause Of Causes is currently 5/2 to win (I wouldn’t be willing to oppose him).
The Last Samuri:
If Cause Of Causes was to be beaten, I believe it would be by this horse, The Last Samuri. The 2016 Grand National runner up has leading claims to this race as we know he stays and jumps well. However this is a first for him over these fences. The ground won’t be a problem at all and Kim Bailey is keen to campaign him in this discipline. He will be ridden by David Bass at 11st 4lbs and is currently 6/1 for the Cross Country Chase.
By Lois x