Bacardys can get us back on track before Douvan's date with destiny
Things didn't go to plan for us on day one at Cheltenham, which was dominated by a remarkable Gordon Elliott's treble, but today is another day and everything revolves around the mighty Douvan in the big one.
Willie has made no apologies when saying that Douvan is potentially the best horse he has had in the yard and he's been flawless since coming to us from France with 13 successive wins, including two Festival victories.
We've never won a Champion Chase (3.30) and we'll probably never get a more gilt-edged opportunity than this so we're hoping he struts his stuff as normal and delivers another superb round of jumping.
If he does he won't be beaten.
Any horse that's able to get me around in a Grade One chase must be a different level so nothing in the race really causes us too much thought; if he turns up in the form that he usually does then it's all about him.
After a couple of near misses yesterday with Melon and Vroum Vroum Mag over hurdles, it'd be great to start today with a winner and Bacardys is going in under the radar in the opener (1.30) despite some outstanding form.
He's a proper Grade One horse with a brilliant second in last year's Champion Bumper and a win over Bunk Off Early in a Grade One at Leopardstown. He dazzled in his work last week and looks by far the best he has been all year so I'd be expecting a huge run.
Bon Papa is a very exciting horse, he's won his Bumper and his maiden hurdle very impressively and while he might lack a little experience, he should be a really exciting chaser next season while Kemboy and Livelovelaugh will need to step up on anything we've seen thus far.
I rode the Neptune favourite Neon Wolf in his point-to-point win in Ballyragget this time last year and he's very talented, but 12 months ago Bacardys was finishing second at the Festival so I think we've got the advantage on him when it comes to experience and racing nous and that could tell the tale.
Bellshill fell in Leopardstown the last day and again when schooling after racing ten days ago but his defeat of Haymount, which finished a good third in the National Hunt Challenge Cup yesterday, at Limerick on St Stephen's Day was given a timely form boost.
He has schooled well since and his work has been top notch. It's not exactly the best RSA Chase (2.10) ever ran and I know Bellshill has run badly at Cheltenham twice but I think the step up to three miles will help him and he's probably the best horse in the race.
If we can get his jumping together he'll love the ground, he's a big price and while Might Bite is a worthy favourite on what he did at Kempton, our fella might have better form in the book whereas he's favourite on one performance.
We have a quintet in the Coral Cup (2.50) but Ruby rides Tin Soldier and he's the one most likely to trouble Tombstone. Gordon is in red-hot form all season and Tombstone looks well handicapped given connections were going to supplement him for the Champion Hurdle. That tells you everything you need to know about what they think of him
But we're happy to take him on and Tin Soldier's laziness could mean he's better than his mark because he never over-exerts himself hugely and we're hopeful that he might have a few pounds in hand. He was in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle, but we just felt having Ruby on his back would be a huge addition because he's not an easy ride and he should be thereabouts.
I've got two nice rides with Alelchi Inois the first up in the Cross Country Chase (4.10). He came here in January carrying top-weight and hated the ground, but he jumped well and on better ground at level weights I'd be expecting him to run into a place.
Enda Bolger has farmed these races and Cantlow and Cause Of Causes battle for favouritism but the forgotten horse may be Auvergnat and if I had the choice of any other horse to ride, it would be him having run Cantlow close here last November. Rachael Blackmore has a good chance to ride her first Festival winner with Linger (4.50) while our two Bumper (5.30) horses are more even than the betting suggests.
My mount Carter Mckay will go close while Next Destination reminds me a lot of Briar Hill and is overpriced.
1.30: Bacardys (Nap)
2.50: Tin Soldier
5.30: Next Destination (e/w)
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