Cheltenham Festival Day One

Here we are ladies and gents……the greatest sporting spectacle known to man! God I love this week, the anticipation, the excitement, the performances. Sit back, enjoy, shout and scream!!
 
SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE
The race that gets us away is going to be a three way affair in my eyes, with the top three in the market being those. ALTIOR has had a cracking season and has won four on the bounce, including here. His run at Kempton was solid and the form has been franked a few times. MIN could be another Mullins hotpot and has demolished his rivals this season and is understandably the favourite. BUVEUR D'AIR has likewise run very well this year and been equally impressive. He also has solid bumper form behind BARTERS HILL twice. CHARBEL will go off likety-split and could stay on for a place but I am opting for Mullins/Walsh in what has become a benefit race for them in recent years.
SELECTION : MIN EACH WAY : CHARBEL

ARKLE
Short and sweet. Nothing can or will get close to DOUVAN, hence the number of defectees from the line up. It should be simple!
SELECTION : DOUVAN

ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE
My heart is telling me HOLYWELL. Everyone who reads my blog knows what
I think of this fella and what a treat he gave me when I napped him for the Pertemps three long years ago! Despite his poor form this year, class is class, and so is course form here. I'm just worried a out his last run at Doncaster. Was his trainer playing the game to get his mark reduced or has he really fell out of love with the game? I hope it's the former! His mark has been reduced by a further 6lbs to a mark of OR153. His lowest mark since he won this race off a mark of OR147. KRUZHLININ is lightly raced and has decent form in the book beating LE REVE last time and the form stacks up a little and he is on an eye carching mark for this race. SOUTHFIELD THEATRE hasn't been himself this year but he has possibly been hitting above his weight. He's back to a winning mark and could be very well handicapped on his second to DON POLI last year.
SELECTION : HOLYWELL EACH WAY : KRUZHLININ

CHAMPION HURDLE
Can ANNIE POWER dominate against the boys and she gets a 6lb allowance too! She has a hell of a chance, but personally I think it will all happen too fast for her! With a run I would be very interested in MY TENT OR YOURS but surely he's been absent too long! I love LIL ROCKERFELLER but I feel his owners have listened to their heart rather than their heads – he would have had more of a chance in a 'lesser' race! TOP NOTCH has a cracking chance based on his second to IDENTITY THIEF in the Fighting Fifth. However, I'm opting for an old head in this. THE NEW ONE has been the down the places in the last couple of festivals but I think this is his year, and his trainer is very upbeat too!
SELECTION : THE NEW ONE EACH WAY : LIL ROCKERFELLER

MARES HURDLE
With no Annie Power this is more competitive. For me though there is only one selection, POLLY PEACHUM. I have followed this mare since day two when she ran at Warwick. She has ran some amazing races since, including when just pipped in this last year. She is now 6lbs lower in the ratings and has been very steady since last year's defeat. This will be her last ever outing and I hope she goes out with a bang! I think FLUTE BOWL has a hell of an each way chance based on her last run and we shouldn't forget BITOFAPUZZLE despite two poor efforts.
SELECTION : POLLY PEACHUM EACH WAY : FLUTE BOWL

NATIONAL HUNT CHASE
PONT ALEXANDRE has been a bit of a forgotten horse. He was 6/4 favourite for the Neptune in 2013. Injury forced a long absence yet to be fair he has had two solid efforts since his return and he could trounce this lot at a great price – he's 10-1 in places when I write this. Of the others I think SOUTHFIELD ROYALE has all the credentials to take this and DEFINITLY RED has caught my eye all year.
SELECTION : PONT ALEXANDRE EACH WAY : DEFINITLY RED

NOVICES HANDICAP CHASE
KATGARY has been a horse I've always thought a lot of and am convinced he needs good ground to get the best out of him. He hasnt run for a while and that has been to wait for the better ground. This is one of my best bets of the week and I hope I've found a big festival winner again!! The ground should have dried out even more by the time he races too!! Lump on!!
SELECTION : KATGARY EACH WAY : TWELVE ROSES
 
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Cheltenham 2013 – Day 2

Day one I think was as good as we were all expecting. Superb performances by Hurricane Fly and Quevega going down in history were the highlights for me. I thought TOUR DES CHAMPS ran well and he has a big handicap in him on better ground and I was a bit disappointed by how KENTFORD GREY LADY petered out after moving very menacingly close home. Overall though I was happy with the blog throwing up JEZKI placed and wins for CHAMPAGNE FEVER and HURRICANE FLY. I still think Jezki would have been a bit closer but for that poor jump at the last!
 
On to day two and here are my selections for Wednesday.
 
1.30 John Oaksey National Hunt Chase

With this likely to turn into a slog the battling qualities and sound jumping ability of BACK IN FOCUS (WON 9-4) give him a real chance, he is an out and out stayer and that may be needed tomorrow. My one question mark over him is whether or not the ground will be soft enough. I will have a little bit on him, but fancy RIVAL D'ESTRUVAL (FELL) to possibly get the better of him. This one is another sound jumper who should relish the conditions, which judged on the times, are good to soft. He ran very well behind PACHA DU POLDER at Ayr last year and that form could be strong enough.
 
2.05 Neptune Investment Novice Hurdle

PONT ALEXANDRE (treble) (3rd – 6-4) is a potential superstar! The stable have been exceptionally positive about his chances and his rock solid form. He is the form selection and will have a wedge of my money. I will also be having an each way saver on CHATTERBOX (unplaced) who has been really impressive this year and has done nothing wrong. He defeated MY TENT OR YOURS and then followed that up by defeating LAC FONTANA giving buckets of weight away. What a cracking race this is, and I haven't even mentioned the form and abilIty of THE NEW ONE (WON and how wrong was I!!!!), but I think these two will hold that one up the hill. Sit back and enjoy a cracker.
 
2.40 RSA Chase

This is an entriguing race and BOSTON BOB appears to have the credentials and character for this, he should certainly appreciate the step up in trip. UNIONISTE was very impressive last time but I reckon the ground brought out the best in him that day. So my money is on Jim Culloty's progressive LORD WINDERMERE (WON 8-1). He is another one who looks like he will relish the step up in trip and if anything that was evident when he was defeated by BOSTON BOB by only half a length after nearly destroying a fence in his round of jumping! A great price too for me!
 
3.20 SportingBet Queen Mother Champion Chase

If there was ever a horse racing banker it surely has to be SPRINTER SACRE. He is a joy to watch and I can't wait to see him in action again tomorrow. So, with him to win no questions asked, who is getting place money and finishing second? My each way selection is SANCTUAIRE (unplaced) If he is ridden positively as in previous races I can't see any other of the field getting close to him other than the Aeroplane. I'm staggered that he is 25-1, yes, SS has stuffed him on every occasion but are the others such as WISHFUL THINKING and SIZING EUROPE really that better than him? I beg to differ!
 
4.00 Coral Cup

If you can pick the winner of this, you are either damn good, or having a lucky day! The latter for most. Competitive as hell as always and a case can be made for lots of them! I am putting my each way money on two of them. It sides at times to stick with quality horses at the top of the handicap. I was encouraged to see CRACK AWAY JACK (unplaced) run somewhere near his best when behind TIDAL BAY at Wetherby, and then followed that up with a decent second here behind OSCAR WHISKY. That form is strong and a drop back to 2m5f may help again. My second option is slightly stronger for me. CASH AND GO (nb) (unplaced) is a bit of a forgotten animal. His second here in the Racing Post Hurdle behind OLOFI is impressive and this step up should suit him. He had PROSPECT WELLS way behind that day too. The drying ground will help and he ran pretty well at Newbury last time and I think this extra distance and stiff track will suit.
 
4.40 Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle

I'm putting my money on a decent priced outsider here. MILORD (4th – 16-1) hails from a top yard and one who knows how to pick a race for a horse. He ran well behind CHATTERBOX and LAC FONTANA last time and a return of that effort will see him have a chance and is pretty well weighted. He is one of those handicap hunches I get from time to time as he fits the progressive profile needed to win this and he has a similar profile to WHAT A CHARM when he won a few years ago. I'm also having a saver on BORDONI (unplaced) who looked good at Market Rasen last time and was a decent horse on the flat who apears to have taken well to hurdles.
 
5.15 Weatherbys Champion Bumper

There are times when you watch a horse for the first time and think wow! I remember watching a clip of GOLANTILLA (nap) (3rd – 9-1) winning the race at Cork and thinking he was special. He is out of GOLAN and destroyed some good horses that day and I have been waiting for him to run in this. I think he will run really well.
 
All the best on day two everyone. A summary of my bets are below
 
1.30 RIVAL D'ESTRUVAL (FELL)

2.05 PONT ALEXANDRE (win) (treble) (3rd 6-4) CHATTERBOX (ew) (unplaced)

2.40 LORD WINDERMERE (WON 8-1)

3.20 SANCTUAIRE (ew) (unplaced)

4.00 CASH AND GO (win) (nb) (unplaced) CRACK AWAY JACK (ew) (unplaced)

4.40 MILORD (ew) (4th – 16-1)

5.15 GOLANTILLA (win) (nap) (3rd – 9-1)