Micheál Deasy - “It's An Easy Game In These Novice Hurdles.”

12 min

Matchbook’s resident jumps expert Micheál Deasy runs through Day 2’s card from Cheltenham.

It was a drama filled Tuesday but hopefully there are few of you with a bankroll that’s been nicely inflated from any or all of the three winners tipped up here at SP’s of 9.4, 28.0 and 12.5. However, this is a marathon not a sprint so we won’t get too carried away with Day One. We have another seven cracking races on Day Two in front of us so let’s find some more winners…

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

Willie Mullins seemed to be trolling the bookies when he took the first race of the Galway Races last summer with a horse called Easy Game (16.0). He has steadily progressed up the ranks since then with two wins at Navan before Christmas over 2m4f, and what caught my eye was how he charged up the stiff finish there and still hit the line hard.

I think this bodes well for the Ballymore which can end up being a sprint up the hill after a slowish start to the race.

You won’t get a chance to back Ruby Walsh on many 16.0 shots this week and I think Easy Game has a great chance of causing a shock in the opener on Day Two.

Easy Game will love the Cheltenham Hill.

RSA Chase

Delta Work deservedly takes his pace at the top of the market in this but a horse that has seen a lot of support in the last two weeks is the Rebecca Curtis trained Drovers Lane (20.0). He had four runs before Christmas and his jumping was something to behold on each outing.

He gave a 9L beating to the decent Cresswell Legend at Hereford over 3 miles in his first run of the year with a faultless round of jumping and was equally as impressive at Cheltenham in December when a huge leap at the last gained him the few lengths he needed to hold off Le Breuil and Jenkins.

The RSA is a test of jumping at speed that catches a lot of novices out, but Drovers Lane will not be found wanting in this regard and is a dark horse in this.

Drovers Lane ridden by Sean Bowen on their way to victory at the International Meeting in December.

Coral Cup

Scarpeta (22.0) ran a huge race in last year’s Ballymore to finish fourth to Samcro. He raced at the head of affairs for much of the way and briefly hit the front turning into the home straight before being caught for a turn of foot when they straightened up and passed by a few horses. He stayed on again to take fourth close to the line showing some decent stamina after a hard race.

He was a big price that day and is a decent price again this year.

Bleu Berry (30.0) won this race last year on soft off a 5lb lower mark but seems to be the unfancied one of the two horses connections have in the race. He was given a run out in the Galmoy Hurdle recently and that will have blown off the cobwebs for this.

He has course and distance form and will handle the ground which could be well cut up by the time they line up in this.

Mark Walsh on board Bleu Berry after winning the Coral Cup last year.

Champion Chase

Altior will win this and it is a privilege for racing fans to be able to witness this piece of history. You won’t get rich backing him so I have decided to look at something in the “without Altior” market at a big price.

Castlegrace Paddy (10.0) has flown in here so far under the radar that he is almost touching the ground.

His best piece of form this year came at Cork when he took the Hilly Way Chase by 16L. His task was made easier that day when Great Field fell early on but he went through the rest of the race like a horse a class above his rivals. He would not have loved the firmer ground he has raced on in his subsequent runs but still ran a fine race at Christmas behind Simply Ned and Footpad.

The deluge of rain at Cheltenham on Tuesday will be massively in his favour and he is the best placed of the outsiders in the field to get close to the front two or three.

Cross Country Chase

Tiger Roll (2.32) is an enigma of a horse and my banker of the week! He is bidding to win this race for the second year in a row and also claim his fourth victory at the festival. He brought the house down when winning a handicap hurdle at Navan last month at an SP of 26.0 in what looked like a pipe-opener ahead of defending his Cheltenham and Aintree crowns.

Tiger Roll paid for two weddings I went to last year and I fully expect him to romp home again this year.

Tiger Roll jumps a hedge en route to victory last year

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Six of the last seven winners of this race have been priced at 26.0 and upwards so it not a race where you will find value at the top of the market. One that has caught my eye at big prices in Alan King’s runner Praeceps (22.0).

He has only one win from three runs this year but his two defeats have come to two seriously good juveniles, Fusil Raffles and Song For Someone. Praeceps was best of the rest both times to these horses and I think they would be good enough to be near the top of the Triumph Hurdle market on Friday.

He arrives on the scene late which will suit this race and I can see him running into a place or better.

Champion Bumper

Envoi Allen (5.1) was a very expensive purchase from the point to point scene in Ireland last spring when he was bought with Cheltenham in mind. He has looked a class above in bumpers so far this season and is a big powerful horse that should have the speed and stamina to see out this test of a race.

Envoi Allen cost a fortune and is already paying it back.

Recommended Bets

  • 1.30 – Easy Game (16.0) – 1pt Win, 1pt Place
  • 2.10 – Drovers Lane (20.0) – 1pt Win, 1pt Place
  • 2.50 – Scarpeta (22.0) – 0.5pt Win, 0.5pt Place
  • 2.50 – Bleu Berry (30.0) – 0.5pt Win, 0.5pt Place
  • 3.30 – Castlegrace Paddy without Altior (10.0) – 1pt Win
  • 4.10 – Tiger Roll (2.32) – 5pt Win
  • 4.50 – Praeceps (22.0) -0.5pt Win, 0.5pt Win
  • 5.30 – Envoi Allen (5.1) – 1pt Win

Your host Tom Stanley is joined by Donn McClean, Rory Delargy and Matchbook’s Micheál Deasy to preview the first two days of the Festival.