Matchbook’s Micheàl Deasy gets stuck into Day 2 with ten more bets including a Max bet on Tiger Roll.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
Envoi Allen will win the Ballymore.
I have been toying with the idea of tipping Sporting John in this race as a value bet but it’s Cheltenham and we want winners! A tank of a horse, he carried all before him in bumpers last year, culminating in his win in the Champion Bumper at the festival. He has continued this trend over hurdles and despite what the winning distances may suggest, he has never been in trouble in any of his runs this year.
He is tactically versatile, has loads of speed and should have no problem with the trip.
Very heavy ground is an unknown but everyone else in the race will be racing on the same course as him and his class should see him through. He can emulate Samcro in 2017 as the Irish banker of the festival also and should be a cornerstone of any accas or multiples you will be placing.
Slate House got his career back on track on heavy ground here in the October meeting and he should have conditions to suit again today. He was unlucky to fall in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham when coming with a winning run and followed that up with two wins, most notably the Kauto Star Novices Chase at Christmas over 3 miles. I think a line can be drawn through his last run in what was a Gold Cup trial.
These will be slightly calmer waters and he can go well at a double-digit price.
Champagne Well won the first race of the season at Cheltenham back in October and has little luck since finishing second three times. He could easily have run in the Ballymore or Albert Bartlett but his shrewd trainer is giving him a go in a handicap for the first time today. A repeat of his novice hurdling form will see him run a big race from the lower end of the weights.
Alfa Mix is a recent JP McManus purchase and has some decent handicap form in Ireland, winning and placing second at Navan most recently. He is running off his Irish mark which gives him a huge chance and his finishing ability up the hill at Navan would suggest he will love Cheltenham.
The absence of Altior has robbed us of a race for the ages.
I would have a narrow preference for Defi Du Seuil in this but he is an unbackable price against the potential of Chacun Pour Soi so it’s a no bet race for me.
Cross Country Chase
What more needs to be said about Tiger Roll?
Gordon Elliot’s superstar is going for his third win in this race in a row and fifth win at the Cheltenham Festival overall. He won this race by 22 lengths last year on the way to a second Grand National and I strongly fancy him to do so again this year. This is no penalty kick though and he faces a serious rival in Easysland, who took the cross country race at the December meeting and was subsequently purchased by JP McManus.
As impressive as he was, he could only beat Out Sam by 13 lengths and I think the Tiger would do that with three legs.
He was a max bet for me last year and is again this year if you want to play at those prices.
If not I would suggest a small bet on Neverushacon. Jessie Harrington’s runner finished fifth behind Easyland in December and won over the banks at Punchestown last month. He should be able to pick up a place.
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
A wide-open puzzle of a race as usual where you need something that has kept a few pounds to themselves. The one that has caught my eye is Nicky Henderson’s runner Palladium.
A maiden on the flat for Martyn Meade has taken well to hurdling for his new stable this season. He was particularly impressive last time out, winning by 10l at Sandown on heavy ground last time out. He ran the exact same time as Quel Destin in the Contenders Hurdle later on the card-carrying 7lbs less which would make him a 140ish horse. If he can improve or run to that level again he will go very close.
Israel Champ is an extremely backable price in this. He has course and distance form from the November meeting and followed that up with another solid victory at Ascot on heavy ground.
The Glancing Queen is also of interest at a big price.
She also has winning CD form and was only 7 lengths off Envoi Allen here last year before bolting up in the mares bumper at Aintree. The mares allowance is another bonus and she can hit the frame again.
- Envoi Allen (1.8) – 2pt Win
- Slate House (14.0) – 0.5pt Win, 0.5pt Place
- Alfa Mix (11.0) – 0.5pt Win, 0.5pt Place
- Champagne Well (26.0) – 0.5pt Win, 0.5pt Place
- Tiger Roll (2.0) – 2pt Win
- Neverrushacon – 1pt Place
- Palladium (12.0) – 0.5pt Win, 0.5pt Place
- Israel Champ (13.0) – 0.5pt Win, 0.5pt Place
- The Glancing Queen (25.0) – 0.5pt Win, 0.5pt Place
- Tiger Roll and Envoi Allen (Double) – 1pt Win