Cheltenham Day 2 tips: Frank Hickey’s best bets for the 2021 Festival

Frank has a pick for every race on the St Patrick’s Day card for you.

Put The Kettle On Frank Hickey

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13:20 Ballymore Novices Hurdle – Bear Ghylls

Bob Olinger, Gaillard Du Mesnil and Bravemansgame all have been impressive this season, but there is one horse that could line up here that really excites me and that is BEAR GHYLLS. He is four-from-four under rules, winning his bumper at Warwick last March by 19 lengths.

To put it in context, the horse that was second was a big eye-catcher in the Betfair Hurdle recently off a mark of 135. Bear Ghylls made his hurdles debut at Lingfield in October and despite kicking the last hurdle out of the way, he still was an easy winner. Again, that form is working out really well, with the second winning a novice hurdle at Cheltenham and being narrowly beaten in a Grade 2 at Warwick, while the third, fifth, sixth, seventh, 11th & 12th have all won since.

On his next start under a penalty, he made hard work of justifying a short price when beating Gowel Road by a length-and-a-half and while you could be a little underwhelmed with the performance at the time, Gowel Road has won a Newbury handicap off a mark of 122 and followed up in a decent Newbury novice hurdle under a penalty.

Bear Ghylls last start was at Exeter where he made a mockery of his opening handicap mark of 130, despite not jumping great. He will have to jump better to win a Grade 1, but there is no doubt he has a huge amount of ability. With just the seven runners, I will have a small win bet and I will also back Bear Ghylls in the three place market as well.

TODAY AT CHELTENHAM

13:55 Brown Advisory Novices Chase – Monkfish

MONKFISH is a short price, but there looks to be very little holes in him. He has course form courtesy of his Albert Bartlett win last season and he is three-from-three this season over fences. Two of those wins came in Grade 1 company and he has won over 2m 5f and 3m.

He jumps well, has class and it will take him underperforming for him to suffer defeat here. Eklat De Rire is the one interesting opponent, who has improved with every start and was impressive in a Grade 3 at Naas last time. However, that still leaves him with plenty to find with Monkfish.

14:30 Coral Cup – Sneaky Getaway

This is a fiercely competitive handicap and Monte Cristo, Craigneiche and Guard Your Dreams are all very interesting, but SNEAKY GETAWAY looks very interesting here for Emmett Mullins. Thought good enough to run in the 2019 edition of the Grade 2 Doncaster Cup on the Flat, he was also a creditable eighth in that season’s Cesarewitch, where he ran off an official rating of 101.

He got off the mark on hurdles debut last June in Roscommon and followed up at Fairyhouse in November. He has disappointed since, including on handicap debut at Leopardstown at Christmas when he was pulled up. That is worrying, but Mullins managed to bring Cape Gentleman back from a poor run at the Dublin Racing Festival to win a Grade 2 at Kempton just three weeks later.

Sneaky Getaway had a lovely spin on the all-weather in Dundalk last month and Mullins strike rate with his national hunt runners in the UK the last five years stands at seven winners from 16 runners, or 44%. This could be a big week for Mullins with The Shunter chasing a large bonus also, but Sneaky Getaway looks a big price to hit the frame – considering how well handicapped he potentially could be and with the seven places on offer.

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15:05 Champion Chase – Put The Kettle On

Chacun Pour Soi has only managed seven starts in the last three seasons, but he has won all but one of those starts and looks tough to beat here. He has been very impressive on all starts this season, but he clearly hasn’t been easy to keep sound. There is a small niggle that he will have to have the race in the bag jumping the final fence, as his finishing effort hasn’t quite matched the brilliance he displays throughout the rest of his races.

At odds on, I can swerve him and will side with PUT THE KETTLE ON who won last year’s Arkle and is three-from-three at Cheltenham. She was behind Chacun Pour Soi last time, but the return to Cheltenham can see her get much closer to him at the very least and she looks a nice each-way play.

15:40 Cross Country Chase – Hogan’s Height

Tiger Roll has looked a shadow of himself this season, while Easysland will romp home here if replicating the performance he produced when winning this race last year. He was a little disappointing here last November, even allowing for the fact he was conceding plenty of weight.

He hasn’t been seen since and it can’t have been Plan A to arrive here without the benefit of a run. As a result, I am looking to play something each-way against those two.

The one that looks worth taking an each-way chance on is HOGAN’S HEIGHT for Jamie Snowden. It is a difficult ask for a horse to be successful on their debut at this discipline, but Snowden did train Fact Of The Matter to finish a close second to Josies Orders on his debut over the banks and that horse followed up by winning his second start.

Hogan’s Height is a far better horse than Fact Of The Matter and was extremely impressive when running away with the Grand Sefton at Aintree in December off a mark of 134. He has had two starts over hurdles since, but this discipline could really suit him and he has decent claims of hitting the first four at least. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him go close at a massive price.

Sir Gerhard Jamie Codd Navan December 18, 2020

16:15 Grand Annual – Us And Them & On The Slopes (Both Each-Way)

Chosen Mate was a winning favourite in this race last year, but it hasn’t always been an easy race for punters with 66/1, 28/1, 16/1, 16/1, 20/1 and 40/1 winners in the last 10 years. It isn’t uncommon for horses who ran in the race the previous season to come back and go well, so US AND THEM fits the bill.

He was second in the 2019 Arkle and was third in this last year off a mark of 148. He ran a cracker considering he badly lost his position four out and was near the rear of the field jumping three out. He ran on really strongly to finish a never-nearer third and he gets to run off a pound lower here. Very similar to last season, he comes in here with no worthwhile form this season but he looks likely to run a big race at a rewarding each-way price.

The other one that I can’t leave go unbacked each-way is ON THE SLOPES. He was third in a red-hot course handicap in January 2020, where the winner and second both went on to win at last year’s Festival. He won his next two starts, but has been no more than average in two chase starts here this season.

He has been dropped 3lbs to a mark of 140, which is only 4lbs higher than his last win at Kempton and better ground here is a positive for him. His prominent style looks sure to be suited to the Old Course here and he could hit the frame with Paddy giving us sic places.

16:50 Champion Bumper – Sir Gerhard

Kilcruit may have been flattered by the margin of his victory at the Dublin Racing Festival, as they went too hard in front and basically stopped to a walk, allowing Kilcruit to sweep past in the straight. He was just as impressive on his stable debut for Willie Mullins at Navan and looks to have the gears necessary to win a Champion Bumper.

SIR GERHARD is a creditably rival and his form is strong also. His win at Down Royal was very strong on the clock and if the switch on stables so close to the festival doesn’t impact him, then he might be able to turn over Kilcruit.

Frank Hickey’s tips summary:

13:20 Ballymore Novices Hurdle – Bear Ghylls
13:55 Brown Advisory Novices Chase – Monkfish
14:30 Coral Cup – Sneaky Getaway
15:05 Champion Chase – Put The Kettle On
15:40 Cross Country Chase – Hogan’s Height
16:15 Grand Annual – Us And Them & On The Slopes (Both Each-Way)
16:50 Champion Bumper – Sir Gerhard

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