Rory Delargy has five lay bets for Cheltenham Day 2.
13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
I’m against the front two in the market for the traditional day two opener, albeit without wanting to get overexposed. Champ impressed in the Challow, but the form isn’t as good as it looks, and his free-going tendencies means he could be found wanting up the hill. He’s related to triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate, but there is plenty of temperament in that family, and I’m not sure if he will go the right way or not, given how flighty he has been.
I was keen to oppose him given the Irish form is looking stronger after what happened in the Supreme, but I have a nagging doubt that this will come too early in the career of Battleoverdoyen, and he’s not sure to appreciate a slog either, having won twice over two miles on good ground in his short career. His point win was also on a sound surface, and unless it dries out overnight, the conditions are a definite concern. The problem with taking on both market leaders is being sure you have enough running for you, and that makes me want to be conservative to start with.
Recommended: Lay Champ @ 5.0 or shorter to win 4pts [max liability 16pts]
Recommended: Lay Battleoverdoyen @ 5.5 or shorter to win 4 pts [max liability 18pts]
14:10 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase
The top three look solid here, Santini’s recent problems notwithstanding, and I don’t want to oppose them, but Santini’s stablemate On The Blind Side looks too short in the place market given he was tailed off on his chase debut before winning at Kempton, and I’d have him down as a horse suited by a speed test at three miles, rather than one who would appreciate the kind of slog this can turn into. There are plenty who have a chance on official ratings, and he won’t need to run badly to struggle to make the frame.
Drovers Lane is another I’d be against in this race, although I did back him for the novices’ handicap over shorter. He’s coming back from a break and wind surgery and I don’t think that is a positive.
Recommended: Place Lay On The Blind Side @ 3.8 or shorter for 5pts [max liability 14pts]
Recommended: Place Lay Drovers Lane @ 5.0 or shorter for 4 pts [max liability 16pts]
15:30 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Sceau Royal is a big price to win this on the exchange, but the nature of the market means he can be laid for a place at under 3.0, and that is appealing given he’s struggled a bit when faced with testing conditions before. I feel that the placed horses in this may be those who are ridden to pick up the pieces, and the fact that Daryl Jacob’s mount is the third favourite means he can’t really be seen to ride negatively, and that will make him vulnerable, whereas the riders of a couple of the rags can afford to creep around and pass beaten rivals in the straight.
His latest second in the Kingwell Hurdle took a bit of a knock when the winner finished down the field in the Supreme, and while I feel there is a good race in Sceau Royal over fences, I don’t think it’s this one.
Recommended: Place Lay Sceau Royal @ 3.0 or shorter for 10pts [max liability 20pts]
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.