Tuesday was great, Wednesday even better – thanks to two winners on this second day of the Cheltenham Festival! Don Poli obliged in the style of a future Gold Cup star, while Rivage D’or went in @ 20/1 in the Cross-Country Chase. Under a patient ride by Davy Russell, he was all over jumping the last, though may have also profited from a crashing fall of two strongly travelling rivals. Don Poli is a very lazy sort and didn’t look too interested halfway through, but once set alive there was no stopping. That makes it another whopping 62.5pts profit for the day and now 100pts+ for the Festival overall!
JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
Vautor is the clear favourite but I feel this is more down to his hurdling form than what he has shown over fences. You can pick holes into the form and his jumping can be slightly worrying. He may well be the star everyone thinks he is and he promised over hurdles at the Festival last year, but this game is about jumping and not every top class hurdler is a top class chaser.
Looking elsewhere, Ptit Zig is a very talented individual and if fully recovered from a recent fall he can run big but I don’t like backing lto fallers. Valseur Lido has a touch of class but not too many excuses the last time at Leopardstown. May need softer ground to be seen at his best anyway. Apache Stronghold chased Don Poli home over 3m, so clearly has class and loads of stamina. I liked the way he won at Leopardstown over 2m5 the last time. He should relish Cheltenham and the good ground and is a better chance than his current price tag suggests.
Apache Stronghold @ 11/2 PP – 5pts win
Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)
Competitive renewal but Taquin Du Seuil looks hugely overpriced if you can forgive him some below part efforts over 3m in tough conditions. He didn’t seem to relish those stamina tests, so the drop in trip and good ground should help. His record over 2m5f speaks for itself, so does his love for Cheltenham. He won the JLT last year, and another win in addition to a close runner-up effort in four starts here means it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him bounce back at the venue of his biggest success.
Taquin Du Seuil @ 12/1 VC – 2.5pts EW
World Hurdle (Grade 1)
No Big Buck’s in here this time and last years winner hasn’t made it to the Festival either. That opens up the way for improving Saphir Du Rheu who looks the new bright star in the staying division. A tough winner at Cheltenham in January, he could have still more to offer on what is only his third start over three miles. He’s also rather low mileage for a jumps horse in general. Says he could be still on the up.
Dark horse for me is Dedigout. He remains in the World Hurdle despite the good ground potentially against him. He is hugely progressive as well and has won two nice races this season. He was once quick enough to win over 2m4f in graded company on yielding going, so that gives hope that the ground is not as big a deal as some may thing it will be. He looks certainly a huge price and is worth a nibble.
Saphir Du Rheu @ 6/1 PP – 5pts win
Dedigout @ 25/1 PP – 5pts win