Ruby Walsh gives us the inside track on Day Two at Cheltenham

After riding two winners and tipping up three, racing’s top jockey returns to give us the scoop on the second day of the great Festival…


Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle 13:30

Is it all about Samcro? Yea, I think it is. I watched him working last week, he was behind Mengli Khan in the piece of work, but he was very eye-catching and he’ll be very hard to beat. That said, you have to take on these favourites. You saw that with Benie Des Deux overturning Apples Jade, so we’ll give it a go.

I reckon on an ordinary year Next Destination ticks all the boxes. He’s won all the right races to be involved in the Ballymore, but unfortunately, he has to stick with the Ballymore. Of Willie’s other runners, Duc De Genievres is in really good form and Willie sneakily fancies Brahma Bull each-way. Our other runner Scarpeta is a bit of an unknown, but he’d have to improve a bit on what he’s shown so far.

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RSA Novices’ Chase 14:10

It will be soft enough for Black Corton and I don’t believe Ballyoptic has the class, so on paper it’s probably between Monalee and Presenting Percy. Having said that, with the ground being a bit slower Dounikos definitely has a chance, while Bonbon Au Miel has an each-way shot. I ride Al Boum Photo, who doesn’t have that much ground to make up on Monalee, however he does have to improve a little bit.

Personally, judging the two horses on their last runs – and only on the last furlong of their last two runs – I’m in the Monalee camp.

Coral Cup 14:50

There’s a big possibility I’ve chosen wrong here. Yesterday morning when I had to decide, all that rain hadn’t fallen and that won’t be a help to me. Paul Townend then had second choice and he sided with Blue Berry. I always thought the second choice was Voix Du Reve. He’ll love the ground. He was unlucky in a Fred Winter a few years ago and he could be great each-way value.

We also have Abbyssial, he needs to put in a career best and we’ve C’est Jersey down the bottom who’s possibly going to wrong way around. It’s a competitive race, there will be plenty of horses fancied, Max Dynamite will put his best foot forward but the ground is going to be against him.

Queen Mother Champion Chase 15.30

Douvan, Min, Altior, they’ll all go in this ground. It won’t suit Special Tiara but the rest of them should handle the ground here – it’s a fascinating contest. Altior has been exceptional with all his performances thus far.

Officially, Douvan is the best horse in the race. He’s rated above Altior, it’s as simple as that. But you have to respect Altior, and he was very good in his comeback run in Newbury. Min has done very little wrong, but when I look at this rac,e I can only ride one and I’ve always held Douvan in the highest regard. We haven’t seen him since this day last year, but he’s in great form and he has a massive chance.

Cross Country Chase 16:10

I believe Cause Of Causes will win for Gordon Elliott in the Cross Country Chase, with Tiger Roll just behind him in second. That’s my blunt and honest opinion, I just reckon they are the two horses in the race who do stay.

The race suits them and they should be your top two in this one, so they might be worth backing in a forecast. Although, maybe in a reserve-forecast to be safe.

Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 16:50

I don’t have a massively strong opinion on the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, but Act Of Valour – ridden by Adrian Heskin – is a strong runner here for Paul Nicholls. While, I heard Dan Skelton really fancies Nube Negra to make an impact.

Weatherbys Champion Bumper 17:30

This Weatherbys Champion Bumper has a huge field and it’s a very competitive race. The ground swung me in favour of Carefully Selected, but obviously, Patrick Mullins has the choice as he rides all these horses at home. He’s gone for Blackbow and you can see why because he is the form pick. I had the second choice and for a long time I was leaning towards Tornado Flyer, who Paul Townend rides now. I just thought he could be a lot better than his debut win.

We also have two mares, Colreevy and Relegate, I reckon they have to improve though. But, with the weather the way it was, I went for Carefully Selected and he’ll stay really well. Felix Desjy is really well fancied and I think one to watch is Didtheyleaveuoutto, he’s a big player in this. However, Blackbow is definitely the best horse here.

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