Sunday 19 August 2018

Cheltenham 2018 Day Two: All the top tips from our experts including a race-by-race guide

General view of runners and riders in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle
General view of runners and riders in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle

It's Day Two at Cheltenham and here is your complete race guide and top tips from our experts.

CORMAC BYRNE

1.30 Samcro

2.10 Presenting Percy

2.50 William Henry

3.30 Altior

4.10 The Last Samuri

4.50 Nube Negra

5.30 Rhinestone

MICHAEL VERNEY

1.30 Black Op (e/w)

2.10 Presenting Percy

2.50 Diamond King

3.30 Min

4.10 Tiger Roll

4.50 Knight Destroyer

5.30 Felix Desjy

WAYNE BAILEY

1.30 Samcro

2.10 Presenting Percy

2.50 Red Indian

3.30 Altior

4.10 The Last Samuri

4.50 Eragon De Chanay

5.30 Acey Milan

PATRICK MULLINS

1.30 Duc De Genievres (e/w)

2.10 Al Boum Photo (e/w )

3.30 Douvan

IVAN YATES

1.30 Samcro (NAP)

3.30 Altior (NB)

2.10 Monalee

4.10 Cause Of Causes

NIALL CRONIN

1.30 Samcro

2.10 Presenting Percy

2.50 Abbyssial

3.30 Douvan

4.10 The Last Samuri

4.50 Mitchouka

5.30 Carefully Selected

SHARK HANLON

1.30 Samcro

2.10 Monalee

2.50 Fixe Lew Kap

3.30 Altior

4.10 Cause of Causes

4.50 Look My Way

5.30 Felix Desjy

ROBBIE POWER

1.30 Vision De Flos E/W

2.10 Monalee

2.50 Max Dynamite

3.30 MIN

4.10 Josies Orders

4.50 Mitchouka

5.30 Carefully Selected

IAN GAUGHRAN

1.30 Black Op E/W

2.10 Presenting Percy

2.50 Le Breuil E/W

3.30 Ordinary World E/W

4.10 Cause of Causes

4.50 Look My Way

5.30 Didtheyleaveuoutto

KATIE WALSH

1.30 Samcro

2.10 Presenting Percy

2.50 Max Dynamite

3.30 Altior

4.10 Josies Orders

4.50 Nube Negra

5.30 Carefully Selected

KEITH HAMER

1.30 Samcro

2.10 Monalee

2.50 Max Dynamite

3.30 Altior

4.10 Cause of Causes

4.50 Nube Negra

5.30 Blackbow

 

Remember you can follow all the latest news from Cheltenham courtesy of our live blog from 12.30pm

 

Michael Verney's race-by-race guide

1.30 Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle 2m 5f 26yds

THE debate about what Festival engagement the exciting Samcro will take up is over and the time has come for Elliott’s superstar to deliver the goods when it matters most; in one of the most eagerly-anticipated races of the week.

Not since Dunguib’s colossal reversal in the Supreme nine years ago, when carrying the weight of a nation, will there be such expectancy surrounding a novice hurdler and this is not the formality it is being described as by many.

Unbeaten in seven career starts and outstanding at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, Gigginstown’s brilliant six-year-old has the jumping world at his feet with talk of contesting Gold Cups in future, but even subsequent blue-riband winner Denman was turned over in this race 12 years ago at short odds.

He may well be a good thing but at odds-on in a competitive heat, in testing going, value is sought elsewhere with Mullins saddling Next Destination – fourth in last year’s Champion Bumper – against the hotpot.

Next Destination has oozed class in his three hurdle wins, getting the better of Cracking Smart on two occasions, and has been put away since winning a Grade One at Naas in January.

Preference is for Black Op, however, with Tom George’s charge ruing a final-hurdle mistake on his last run when looking set to hand Albert Bartlett fancy Santini a defeat in a Cheltenham Grade Two. The six-year-old is game and will relish the conditions.

Verdict: Black Op (e/w) to provide value against the red-hot Samcro.

2.10 Grade One RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase 3m 80yds

A FASCINATING renewal is in store with Irish raiders Presenting Percy and Monalee heading the betting while the exploits of the remarkable Black Corton and jockey Bryony Frost have been one of the stories of this year’s National Hunt season.

Paul Nicholls’ seven-year-old would be a hugely popular winner but it looks like a battle between the top two with last year’s Albert Bartlett Hurdle second Monalee bouncing back from a Christmas spill to score at Leopardstown last time out.

De Bromhead’s charge had the re-opposing Al Boum Photo and Dounikos just behind on that occasion and while the step up in trip to 3m will suit, that form doesn’t blow any of these rivals out of the water.

There is no better form on offer than Presenting Percy’s last run when a length second to Irish Grand National winner Our Duke, a leading fancy for Friday’s Gold Cup, and last year’s Pertemps Final winner looks a tough nut to crack back in novice company.

Kelly, owner Philip Reynolds, and jockey Davy Russell have combined to score at back-to-back Festivals and the trio could have something special on their hands.

Verdict: Presenting Percy’s second to Our Duke makes him the stand-out choice.

2.50 Grade Three Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle 2m 5f 26yds

WALSH has never won the Coral Cup and rightly describes the 36-horse cavalry charge as the most competitive race of the meeting.

Favourite backers have had their fingers severely burnt with just two winning favourites in the last 25 runnings. Horses priced in double digits have won eight times in the last 10 years so value should be sought.

It’s not often that a horse finishing sixth in the Melbourne Cup is next seen  at Cheltenham but that’s the case with the well-handicapped Max Dynamite who bids to give Mullins and Walsh their first winner in this race.

It would be a fairytale should Ruth Jefferson follow in her late father Malcolm’s footsteps and secure a Festival winner with Mount Mews, which will love the ground, but 2016 winner Diamond King may hold the key.

Racing off four pounds higher than his mark from two years ago, Elliott’s 10-year-old was last seen when chasing home Killultagh Vic on New Year’s Eve and looks primed for this.

Verdict: The 2016 winner Diamond King can score again for Elliott and Davy Russell.

3.30 Grade One Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase 1m 7f 199yds

Questions are hanging over the participants of today’s main course with Altior a doubtful runner just 24 hours ago, although he has since been given the green light to take his chance.

Undefeated in nearly three years and bidding for his 13th consecutive win, Henderson’s two-time Festival winner would have been considered banker material before that setback came to light after the eight-year-old comfortably disposed of Nicholls’ Politologue last month.

There’s no reason to suggest why that form would be turned on its head and his chief rivals are led by the Mullins team of Douvan and Min.

What a race is in store should Douvan return to his best but he has not been seen on a racecourse since coming home lame behind Special Tiara in this race 12 months ago, when sent off 2/9 favourite.

At his best, Douvan would push Altior to the limit but with doubts lingering about that pair, Min may pick up the pieces in the hands of Paul Townend. Min is almost the forgotten horse of this race but took the Grade Two Dublin Chase in fine style at Leopardstown and has always been held in high regard at Closutton.

Verdict: With doubts hanging over Altior and Douvan, Min has the class to take full advantage.

4.10 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f 37yds

NINA CARBERRY is usually the one to follow over the cross-country fences with four wins and it would be another feather in her cap if she can come back from missing last year’s Festival – to give birth to her first child –  to take this stamina-sapper on 2016 winner Josies Orders.

Elliott could also hold the key here, however, with last year’s winner Cause Of Causes bidding for an astonishing fourth straight Festival win under Jamie Codd. Preference is for his stable-mate Tiger Roll.

The two-time Festival winner will have learned a lot from his first attempt of this unique circuit when fifth over course and distance in December and can fend off The Last Samuri.

Verdict: Tiger Roll to take his third Festival victory.

4.50 Grade Three Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 2m 87yds

NO favourite has prevailed in the last seven runnings with double-priced winners the order of the day, so a chance is taken on Knight Destroyer.

Jonjo O’Neill is no stranger to Festival success with 26 winners and his four-year-old comes into the equation based on a facile win at Uttoxeter in October before running with credit at Cheltenham behind Triumph Hurdle favourite Apple’s Shakira.

Verdict: Knight Destroyer has been kept fresh and may spring a surprise in a wide-open heat.

5.30 Grade One Weatherbys Champion Bumper 2m 87yds

JUST seven of the 24 runners are Irish-trained – which is surprising given that six of the last 10 winners have been trained on these shores – but quality definitely trumps quality this year with the three market principles trained by Mullins (two) and Elliott.

Favourite Blackbow galloped into the picture for Mullins with back-to-back wins at Leopardstown but having gotten first run on Joseph O’Brien’s Rhinestone last time out, Barry Geraghty’s mount may be able to turn the tables on Patrick Mullins.

Closutton have five runners with Walsh aboard recent Naas scorer Carefully Selected and Townend on Fairyhouse winner Tornado Flyer but the best of the Irish may prove to be Elliott’s Felix Desjy.

The Meath trainer took this race 12 months ago in dramatic fashion with the ill-fated Fayonagh and all the vibes from Cullentra suggest that this hooded Gigginstown runner has improved immensely since scoring at Down Royal 131 days ago.

A strong home team is led by Anthony Honeyball’s Acey Milan, which strode up the Cheltenham Hill on New Year’s Day in fine style but Elliott can secure back-to-back wins.

Verdict: Felix Desjy can leave Irish eyes smiling in the last

  • Remember you can follow all the latest news from Cheltenham courtesy of our live blog from 12.30pm

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