1.30 BALLYMORE NOVICES HURDLE
Envoi Allen is the favourite and probably will win. But I don’t like that price in a race like this at Cheltenham. I think SPORTING JOHN is worth a punt. He has done everything he has been asked to do and looks progressive. There are a number of interesting e/w angles of which LONGHOUSE POET is the most persuasive.
2.10 RSA INSURANCE NOVICES CHASE
I have long fancied MINELLA INDO for this and have invested ante-post. Henderson is double handed; Champ is a great horse but his jumping is a big worry and Pym disappointed at Ascot. The winner that day was COPPERHEAD and he is solid each-way bet. I fear Allaho but I think he is too short and Mullin’s other runner Easy Game is a better each-way shot. However, my other bet will be on BATTLEOVERDOYEN. Gordon Elliott’s charge disappointed here last year but it was reported that he was off his food before the race. He may be a bad traveller so my advice is to follow the betting – if he drifts out to 14-1 or above ignore him but if he shortens have a punt.
2.50 CORAL CUP
Not easy to sort this one out with Willie Mullins running eight of which at least five can be fancied but if I had to pick one it woulkd be EGLANTINE DU SEUIL is a good bet to make the top six with the brilliant Rachel Blackmore atop. I have bet on PROTEKTORAT ante-post and he is still great value. ALFA MIX impressed at Navan and has been snapped up by JP – it may well pay to follow the great man’s money.
3.30 BETWAY QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
What a shame Altior won’t be involved. It is still an intriguing race. I was simply blown away by the way DEFI DU SEUIL exploded away from the second last when beating Un De Sceaux at Ascot. Hobb’s charge has been beaten by Chacun Pour Soi who looked top class when beating Min at Leopardstown. However, I will stay with the evidence of my own eyes and back Defi. I can’t get excited about anything each way so if you have to do one, have some fun and go with the very long priced BUN DORAN.
4.10 GLENFARCLAS CHASE
Tiger Roll absolutely slaughtered the field in this last year and is justifiably odds on to repeat the performance. Easyland will make his task a little more difficult this year and has won over course and distance – although there were some question marks that day about his jumping. Like Alfa Mix he has purchased by JP ahead of the festival which is a strong recommendation. But I am looking for an each way angle in this race and have backed URGENT DE GREGAINE (who is great value at 14-1) and Derek O’Connor’s mount ARLEQUIN D’ALLIER.
4.50 BOODLES JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE
I placed a long priced each-way bet on BLACKO straight after his win at Warwick and he remains a good bet at today’s price. I wouldn’t put anybody off Palladium, I prefer Thyme White of the two Nicholl’s horses, Gordon Elliott has four live contenders but my other choice is Gavin Cromwell’s THEATRE OF WAR who has been carefully prepared for this race.
5.30 WEATHERBY’S CHAMPION BUMPER
Appreciate It is another short priced favourite and, like Envoi Allen and Tiger Roll, is the most likely race winner. He looks the best of a very powerful Irish contingent. However, I have decided to take on the raiders and back Britain by placing each way bets on each of ADRIMEL, THE GLANCING QUEEN, PANIC ATTACK and THIRD TIME LUCKI.
I have also already backed Roger Teal’s Ocean Wind ante-post after being impressed by his eye-catching second here on New Year’s Day – however, I fear the ground might find him out today.