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Day 2 of Cheltenham 2021 gets under way on ITV with the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle over 2m5f. Not a race I have a huge opinion on. BRAVEMANSGAME has done nothing wrong for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden and it’s hard for anyone to say he wasn’t really impressive at Newbury when last seen. Then he landed the Grade 1 Challow by ten lengths from Star Gate and I think the latter is a really smart performer. It’s hard to judge the British form against the Irish but I have a feeling the Nicholls runner will be hard to stop.
Another Grade 1 here in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase over an extended 3m. This won’t take very long! If MONKFISH had been in the Gold Cup I would have been tipping him up and I think you could argue he’s big odds here even though for most he looks short. Quite simply he’s been faultless in three chase wins, and his hurdling ability was top class as a winner of the Albert Bartlett. He respects fences much more than hurdles, and while of course an accident can happen with any horse if all goes well he should be hard to stop.
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Now a Grade 3 handicap hurdle over 2m5f. Finally a wide open heat! If the cheekpieces sharpen up THOMAS DARBY he might run a big one here for Aidan Coleman and Olly Murphy. Obviously carrying top weight of 11st 12lb will not make it easy, but he has been a few pounds higher in his time and his runs at Kempton and Aintree recently were pretty good for handicap company. I’m hoping for a big each way effort.
This is the feature, the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase over 2m. I’m in no doubt CHACUN POUR SOI will hack all over this lot and he should be much shorter in the betting in my book. Some will say he might not like the track, but there’s no evidence of that and those who say he’s a weak finisher are clueless in my book. He’s just a top class horse for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend and I expect him to score for Rich Ricci.
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A real marathon here with the Cross Country Chase over 3m6f. The Cottin stable is not in good form, but EASYSLAND was being talked about as a Gold Cup horse this time last year and his comeback run here was far from disgraceful. He stays well and gets the expertise of Felix de Giles which is no bad thing. Should be very hard to beat and was super impressed twelve months ago.
A Grade 3 handicap chase now over 2m. IBLEO is in tremendous form and while he has nothing in hand of the handicapper now should run a big race for Venetia Williams ad Charlie Deutsch. Recent wins at Doncaster and Sandown has proved what good shape my hope is in, and while he’s gone up from 132 to 154 this term his form has deserved the rise. Jumps well and can cope with the strong pace.
And finally on Day 2 the Grade 1 bumper over an extended 2m. Guessing here, but SIR GERHARD has done nothing wrong and bids to give Cheveley Park Stud a third win in a row in this event. Willie Mullins trains and Rachael Blackmore gets the ride on a horse who has looked awesome at Down Royal and Navan. Never faced a field this big but should be able to cope. Who knows whether he can beat stable companion Kilcruit and the rest. We will have to see! So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?
READ MORE ON CHELTENHAM 2021
- Cheltenham tips: Ruby Walsh’s Cheat Sheet for all 4 days of the Festival
- Cheltenham tips: Frank Hickey’s NAP for each day of 2021 Festival
- Cheltenham tips: Our Championship races cheat sheet for the Festival
- Cheltenham tips: Mick Fitzgerald’s sizzling Lucky 15 for the Festival
- Cheltenham tips: 5 former festival winners Paddy’s pundits think will strike again in 2021
- Cheltenham tips: Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey’s Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle antepost bets
- Cheltenham tips: Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey’s County Hurdle antepost picks
- Cheltenham tips: Gina Bryce’s top picks in the championship races