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Cheltenham Day 2

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup was the former Racing Correspondent of various BBC regional radio stations and was the gossip columnist on the now-defunct Odds On magazine. He now runs Nick Boyd's large, privately owned reputation, which is widely regarded as a sporting, not-for-profit endeavour.
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I have not yet had the chance to congratulate myself for tipping and Brian Harman for playing into his 3rd place in TPC.  A 175/1 third, even for a shared place at a 5th odds means that to a £1 e/w LSP, we are +22 pts overall. The rest of my picks… buck up your ideas! I had a brief note on Sunday morning from Mrs Trellis’ cousin, Jimmy the Vod, who suggested that my tips were rubbish because [a] I had five selections in a 154 runner field and [b] three of them had failed to meet the cut. He further informed me that he was rooting home young Westwood, who has a special caddy for his Zimmer frame.  I was sad for Lee, who has spent the last two weeks looking up and seeing Bryson Dechambeau in his vision. His pay for the last two weeks of seconditis, however, might have made up for it.

Rory McIlroy also talked at length about Bryson DeChambeau and the impact he has had on Rory’s swing. Apparently, the reason that Rory has been playing like a Walrus attempting to get back into the water from a dune in the Gobi desert, is that he has been trying to copy Bryson’s power swing. Inevitably it has cocked up his game, because there is a world of difference between a desire to improve and a desire to be somebody else. His Psyche-Trainer should know that. The technocrat DeChambeau has developed the way he has, because he had a golf-play theory and hurled money, time and a huge effort into proving he was right. New club designs, new swing styles and an attitude that brooks no failure. This attitude does not necessarily incorporate words like charming, self-effacing and amusing. Bryson however, wasn’t trying to be someone else, he was being him. Rory needs to go back to being Rory and focus on sorting out his game plan tactics, his mindset and possibly his advisers.

Talking of poor advice, here are Wednesday’s tips for the second day of Cheltenham …

13:20 The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race 2m abt 5f

There’s been little interest in recent days for anything other than BOB OLINGER who is now the favourite. I think you can discount everything else outside of the top three in the betting and you’re only looking for two places, so let’s not go pot hunting. I’m guessing that by now, the ground will be starting to dry out, but I suspect it will still be G/S. On drying ground, you’d be trying to reason which might be most comfortable, and that would be BRAVEMANSGAME, who has won three hurdle races, two of them on Good ground.  The other was the G1 Challow Hurdle on soft, but one of my many unfortunate stats is that it has been a very long time since a winner of The Challow Hurdle won at the Festival and even longer since the came on to win this race. To be honest, there really isn’t anything here to make you sit up straight – rather we’re waiting to see a talent unfurl. That being the case, I’m going to plump in the middle and select the Mullins horse. He won a Leopardstown G1 well LTO and has a nice blend of accuracy, speed and stamina. This is an interesting race on paper, let us hope they deliver the goods on the track.

GAILLARD DU MESNIL Win

(If you want to do the forecast I’d stick in the Nicholls horse who Timeform have rated higher than the other two by a squeak) 

13:55 The Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (G1) 3m abt ½ f

MONKFISH simply cannot be opposed. He is the highest-rated Novice Chase in training, and we haven’t seen the best of him yet. Patrick Mullins said in The Irish Field, before the Dublin Racing Festival:

“What I particularly liked at Cheltenham (Albert Bartlett win) was that when they got tight down to the last and after the last, he put his head down and went through it. He’s maturing and the penny is starting to drop.

“You need a horse that understands racing. That’s what Hurricane Fly and Quevega did, they understood the point to win. I’m not sure Monkfish knew that at the very start but now he does. He’s 16.3hh, he’s really filled into his frame and he’s as exciting a novice chaser as we have in the yard.”

If I had a dog, he’d have gone long ago, but if he’d stayed, I’d have put him and the Mrs on this one. I’m saying nothing more – this one could be very, very good.

MONKFISH Win

14:30 The Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (G3) 2m abt 5f

I am interested in BIRCHDALE  who was 8th last year and is 2lb lower this time. Looking at his racing programme since then (two chases, one unseated, one at Newbury where he hated the ground; and a bumper LTO where he ran around the outside), I rather think this has been the plan. He is lightly raced, with just eight runs to his name and he hasn’t won since the 18/19 season (one of them the January Cheltenham Ballymore G2). Nicky Henderson says the horse has “many talents” – according to some ratings, not as many as Nicky’s CRAIGNEICHE – who has won 3 from 4. Nicky’s abundance also includes Boxing Day winner MONTE CRISTO  who is 3/8 and who has few miles on the clock, is unexposed and looks talented. That said, he fails the 222/1+ LTO rule and regretfully has to be discounted. Willie Mullins has sent KOSHARI, who hadn’t been seen for 2½ years and then won a Cork handicap and then came 6th at Leopardstown in February having clattered the third and been sloppy at the fourth. The market thinks enough of him to make him 17/2 2nd favourite. The 7/1 favourite is GRAND ROI, a former Million in Mind syndicate horse, who was sold and moved to Gordon Elliott, the former trainer known as Sneezy. The step down in class and up in distance may be positives, but this is not a race for favourites. If there is a dark horse lurking (there is more than one, I’m just not sure which ones), then I would not dissuade you from Martin Keighley’s WITNESS PROTECTION at around 25s. He is related to Flagship Uberalles, has winning Irish Pointer form and he showed some guts in a driving finish to win LTO.

BIRCHDALE e/w – WITNESS PROTECTION e/w 

15:05 The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (G1) Abt 2m Chase

With the unexpected downpour on Sunday, the ground is currently Soft G/S in places. That will not inconvenience the favourite CHACUN POUR SOI. What might is the Cheltenham hill and the entire Irish racing community is saying in one voice that he’ll make it – with ease. He has looked regal in his dismissal of various pretenders form the various Cheltenham ante-chambers. I suspect and you know me for trying to find a hole, he cannot be opposed. Had the ground been less soft I would have nominated ROUGE VIF for a place, [a] because Harry so deserves it after a truly crap season and [b] because I already had the horse down in my notebook for this at the beginning of the season, after his good Cheltenham handicap win under a big weight, before the yard went sick. OK, he hasn’t won a G1 yet, which on the trends is a No-No, but it would be grand. I keep feeling POLITOLOGUE is older than the famous old champagne drinker Methuselah and is probably set for second place. On trends, you’d have NOTEBOOK for third and at 33/1 I fancy a small e/w bet and a 3 horse combination forecast.

NOTEBOOK e/w – NOTEBOOK – POLITOLOGUE – CHACUN POUR SOI  in a ½pt CFC 

15:40 The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f

Felix de Giles has already taken a huge gamble by undergoing quarantine in order to ride former winner EASYLAND. Normally based in France, Felix has to isolate for five-days on both sides of La Manche in order to ride the favourite, but it is worth remembering that the Cottin horses have been under the viral cloud for some few weeks and are only just coming back. Did EASYLAND lose in December because of the virus? I don’t need to find out at 6/4 frankly. SOME NECK has potential but can be clumsy and won the December cross-country from DEFI DES CARRES. This latter comes from Charlie Mann’s yard and as one of the few people I know to have ridden in the Pardubice, let alone win it with a broken neck, while banned under medical instruction, then if there is someone to understand a cross-country fence and how to get ready for it, its Charlie (the right man for the job) Mann.

SOME NECK e/w – DEFI DES CARRES e/w

16:15 The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase Challenge Cup (G3) 2m abt ½f

On the straight trends, you’d be saying that EMBITTERED and ENTOUCAS should be your selections. You’d throw in perhaps MOONLIGHTER, who is a useful handicap chaser, and seemed to have a little in hand at the line. 18/1 is probably over-generous. However, I’m afraid I’m going with rumours and the two whispers I had this week were Chris Gordon’s ON THE SLOPES and Dan Skelton’s NOT THAT FUISSE. The former is having his second run after a wind-op and is tongue-tied for the 2nd time. The Skeltons have always had this as NTF’s target. Despite Jessica’s hopes of winning Nicky’s dad’s race, SIZING POTTSIE is simply too highly rated. All the O’Brien horses have a chance.

ON THE SLOPES e/w – NOT THAT FUISSE e/w

16.50 The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (G1) 2m abt ½f

KILCRUIT is the favourite and looked the business at the Dublin Racing Festival LTO, but the rumour is the Cheveley Park horse is better. Tittle tattle also suggests that Brian Cooper was delighted to pick up the RAMILLIES ride and there may be some value in the 16/1.

SIR GERHARD Win – RAMILLIES e/w

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