Cheltenham Festival Day Two Preview

By Luke Keena (@lukekeena1)

Racing gets underway on Wednesday with the eagerly anticipated Ballymore Novices hurdle.
Envoi Allen (pictured) comes into this race as the Irish banker in my eyes. He is unbeaten to date and I don’t see him losing. He proved his stamina last time out at Naas when powering clear up the run in beating a talented field. Longhouse Poet runs again today but I can’t see him reversing the form and he will be playing for a place at best. Envoi Allen has the best form in the book, that form comes form the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse when he bet Abacadabras and Darver Star over two miles. Over this trip I think he will be better again and will hopefully get Wednesday off to a flyer. The other three Irish runners are The Big Getaway, Easywork and the aforementioned Longhouse Poet. Of those I think Easywork is overpriced. He got bet for speed last time out at Leopardstown behind Asterion Forlonge. Prior to that he was very impressive at Limerick when beating Unexpected by twenty two lengths. I think he is being forgotten because of his last run but if he can bounce back to his Christmas form over a trip he will prefer he could outrun his odds and get a place.
Sporting John and The Big Breakaway come into the race unbeaten. Sporting John has more experience, he comes into the race with three runs while The Big Breakaway only has the two. These two both step into Graded company for the first time and I think they will struggle to cope with the big step up in class. I can’t see them challenging Envoi Allen.

RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase
The Irish again come into this race with a strong hand with five of the ten runners. Minella Indo is a horse who will relish the test of stamina that is the RSA. He was a surprise winner of last years Albert Bartlett. It is well documented that he needs plenty of work to get fit. His seasonal debut over fences was a nice run behind Laurina at Gowran over an inadequate trip. He then won last time out beating Captain Cj who has since boosted the form. He has achieved more this season in the lead up to Cheltenham as last year he didn’t win prior to Cheltenham. He is a spring horse who I think will be in peak form on the day and it will take a good one to beat him.
I think Allaho may struggle to get the better of Minella Indo. He finished behind him twice last season and I don’t think he has improved enough to beat him. I don’t think he quite stays as well as Minella Indo and I would have preferred to see him in the Marsh.
Battleoverdoyen will relish the trip. He jumped great the last day up till the last fence. He out jumped Faugheen at every fence. He faded too quickly for it to be his true running. I think he will relish the test of the RSA and could outrun his odds. The other two Mullins runners, Easy Game and Castlebawn West would be suspect stayers in my opinion and may struggle to get home.
Champ is the shortest price of the English and I would be keen to take him on. He comes into this race after a fall in his last start at Cheltenham. He steps up to three for the first time over fences and I think Minella Indo will out stay him.

Coral Cup
Fourteen Irish runners head to post and the two I would side with are Alfa Mix and Black Tears. Alfa Mix has improved significantly since stepping up in trip to two miles and a half. On his penultimate start he won well beating a nice horse of Joseph O’Brien’s, Top Moon. He stayed on strongly after the last to get the better of the runner up. The extra furlong in this race will be no issue. Last time out he ran a good prep race, finishing second behind Kilfenora. They pulled eighteen lengths clear of the third home, Court Maid. He has subsequently been bought by JP McManus and I think he will go close at a double figure price.
Black Tears sneaks in at at the foot of the weights and I think she can run well at a decent price. She was last seen finishing second behind Elfile in a Grade 3 at Punchestown, staying on well at the end to pass Laurina . Prior to that she won impressively at Leopardstown. She ran into trouble in the straight but was still well on top at the finish. I think she will relish the step up in trip and she is a six year old on the improve who can outrun her odds.

Champion Chase
Only the one Irish representative in this race but it’s a case of quality over quantity. Chacun Pour Soi looks to have a great chance. He has two standout pieces of form, beating Defi Du Seuil at Punchestown and last time out beating Min at Leopardstown. He was impressive the last day at Leopardstown , he jumped magnificently. Prior to that he needed the run when he finished behind A Plus Tard who is a good horse. He put in an amazing jump three out that day but blew up in the straight. For an eight year old, he is relatively inexperienced over fences. I think he is the horse with the most potential in the race to go on and dominate the division.

Chacun Pour Soi

Defi Du Seuil has done nothing wrong all season. He has won his three starts this season. His form of his last two runs looks strong. He has stepped into open Grade 1 company and showed his class. At the back end of last season Chacun Pour Soi bet him well over two miles. I think Chacun Pour Soi has improved again and is the one to beat.

Cross Country
What an unbelievable story it would be if Tiger Roll was to get his fifth win at the Cheltenham Festival here. He is going for a hat trick in the race and he looks very hard to oppose. On official ratings he is nineteen pounds clear of the second favourite, Easyland. He ran a good race at Navan for a long way before tiring in the straight. He will come on plenty for the run fitness wise and I think he will be very hard to beat. I think the rest of the Irish runners will struggle to be involved towards the finish of the race.

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Aramax was my nap on the podcast when he won the last day and I have been keen on him for this race ever since. He bet Recent Revelations impressively by eight lengths on that occasion. Prior to that he finished behind Wolf Prince at Fairyhouse. Wolf Prince has since boosted the form and finished second in the Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown. I think he is a worthy favourite.
At a bigger price I think Theatre Of War will outrun his odds. He showed signs of improvement last time out when finishing second in a Maiden Hurdle. He stayed on strongly towards the end and was only just bet. He will relish the more stamina demanding two miles. Prior to that he fell and unseated his rider. On his second start over hurdles he finished third and was half a length behind A Wave Of The Sea. He has some nice form and I think he is running off a fair handicap mark. He has been off since Christmas and comes into the race fresher than most. Providing he gets around I think he will outrun his odds.

Champion Bumper
The Irish have a very strong hand in this race. Appreciate It looks to be very special. His performance at Leopardstown the last day was breathtaking. He cruised into the race and once Patrick gave him the signal to quicken he put the race to bed in a matter of strides. On his penultimate start he showed he also has stamina as he won a bumper over two and a half miles. He would appear to have it all, the perfect mix of speed and stamina. He looks to have an excellent chance of ending the day on a high note.

Appreciate It

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