Sportsmail’s racing expert Robin Goodfellow dishes out his tips for day two of the Cheltenham Festival featuring the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Carrying a big weight should not be a barrier to success for the classy Vision Des Flos (right)
2.10 Delta Work
2.50 VISION DES FLOS (nap)
4.10 Fact Of The Matter
4.50 Fine Brunello (nb)
1.30 Sams Profile
2.10 Delta Work (nap)
4.10 Tiger Roll (nb)
4.50 Lethal Steps
5.30 Ask For Glory
BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE
1.30: GRADE ONE — 2 MILES 5 FURLONGS
Champ is a very talented novice, but Challow Hurdle winners are 0-16 in this race, while seven-year-olds also possess a very modest record.
With that in mind, he is reluctantly overlooked in preference for BATTLEOVERDOYEN who was too strong for the likeable Sams Profile in a Naas Grade One in January.
The selection completed a rare feat that day by winning at the top level following a maiden hurdle victory and, although his education has been compacted into small window (he won a bumper in November), he is with the right trainer to keep progressing.
Sams Profile, a strong stayer who likes soft ground, didn’t enjoy the clearest of passages at Naas and could prove a live threat at a decent price given his trainer’s record at this meeting.
BEST BET : BATTLEOVERDOYEN 10-3
NEXT BEST: SAMS PROFILE 10-1
RSA NOVICES’ CHASE
2.10: GRADE ONE — 3 MILES
Recent concerns over Santini’s fitness are a little disconcerting as he appeared to boast the ideal credentials for an examination like this, even if he is a little short on chasing experience.
This track should suit him a good deal better than Kempton last time. However, DELTA WORK has impressed with his performances in Ireland this winter and victory over Le Richebourg in the Drinmore Chase reads particularly well.
A step up to 3m produced another accomplished display at Leopardstown and he should be well suited by the rigours of this event. Drovers Lane may fare best of those at bigger prices as he has had a wind operation since winning here before.
BEST BET: DELTA WORK 9-4
NEXT BEST: DROVERS LANE 16-1
Red-hot favourite Delta Work heads a field of 12 for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham
CORAL CUP HANDICAP HURDLE
2.50: GRADE THREE — 2 MILES 5 FURLONGS
Needless to say, this is one of the hardest handicaps of the week but carrying a big weight has been no barrier to success with eight of the last 10 winners in the top eight of the handicap.
With that in mind, the classy VISION DES FLOS has appeal from the likes of Scarpeta and Uradel given he arrives in grand form after a decisive victory at Fontwell.
That success was compensation for a series of excellent efforts from the six-year-old who has also chased home Grand Sancy, Buveur D’Air and Brain Power this season.
The first-time cheekpieces look a clever move for Scarpeta who was good enough to finish fourth to Samcro last year in the Ballymore Hurdle and would love more rain.
BEST BET: VISION DES FLOS 16-1
NEXT BEST: SCARPETA 16-1
QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
3.30: GRADE ONE — 2 MILES
It is difficult to envisage ALTIOR being beaten, especially as he has recorded 17 consecutive successes over obstacles.
However, any horse can post a below-par effort and it is worth recognising that he was off the bridle against the Paul Townend-ridden Min in this race 12 months ago before engaging top gear to inflict a second festival defeat on his old rival.
It could well be a case of more of the same today, but Ruby Walsh may well have a plan to sit behind Altior this time instead of becoming a target turning for home.
It promises to be a highly interesting tactical battle with Sceau Royal and Champion Chase regular (453 in this race) God’s Own in the shake-up for the places.
BEST BET: ALTIOR 2-5
NEXT BEST: MIN 4-1
CROSS COUNTRY CHASE
4.10: 3 MILES 6 FURLONGS
Many will consider Tiger Roll one of the bankers of the meeting and it may well transpire that way given the manner in which last year’s Grand National winner bounded clear of some useful rivals in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan last month.
A two-length winner in this race 12 months ago, Tiger Roll has become a standing dish at the festival with three previous wins and the only unpalatable aspect is the price.
With that in mind, FACT OF THE MATTER could be worth supporting each-way at a track which appears to have given him a new lease of life.
A wind operation may also produce improvement and he has developed an excellent association both with the Cross Country track and rider Gavin Sheehan.
BEST BET: FACT OF THE MATTER 16-1
NEXT BEST: TIGER ROLL 11-10
4.50: GRADE THREE — 2 MILES
Jose ph O’Brien has a fine collection of juveniles this season, not least Sir Erec who is a strong fancy to win Friday’s Triumph Hurdle.
The master trainer is also well represented here with likely market leader Band Of Outlaws, Star Max and FINE BRUNELLO all looking attractively treated for their handicap bow.
Nine of the last 14 winners had won no more than once over hurdles. Indeed, three were maidens so French recruit Fine Brunello has some appeal following his eye-catching effort behind stablemate Fakir D’oudairies on Trials Day in January.
He had previously shaped with promise behind Band Of Outlaws at Limerick and is narrowly preferred to Lethal Steps who has recorded two fine runs in big fields and now sports the cheekpieces for a yard with a good record in the race.
BEST BET: BRUNELLO 11-1
NEXT BEST: LETHAL STEPS 13-2
5.30: GRADE ONE — 2 MILES
The bumper won by Envoi Allen at the Dublin Racing Festival featured some of the best horses in that sphere and, although METICULOUS could only manage the runners-up berth that day, hopes are high that he may be capable of turning round the form at this track.
Envoi Allen received a fie tactical ride that day from Jamie Codd who was at pains to maximise his mount’s undoubted stamina reserves, whereas Meticulous appeared as though the whole exercise was education as he stayed on late once his chance had all but gone.
The selection should know a lot more this time and can reverse placings. Master Debonair boasts plenty of track experience and is another to consider for a team that won this with Cue Card.
BEST BET: METICULOUS 8-1
NEXT BEST: MASTER DEBONAIR 12-1
PETER SCUDAMORE – EIGHT TIMES CHAMPION JOCKEY
Leading jumps owner JP McManus must have thought long and hard before he named his big hope for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Nicky Henderson-trained CHAMP is called after recordbreaking 20-time champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy, the rider who wore the McManus silks for the second half of his career.
The story behind the naming of the selection on its own tells you how much ability the team around Champ feel he must have. He is very lightly raced and has won five of his seven races, f inishing second in the other two.
Despite pulling far too hard in some of his races he has really started to deliver on the track this season, winning all four of his races and graduating from handicap company to winning the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury in December on his latest start.
Champ has a tough set of Irish rivals to repel, headed by Battleoverdoyen but he can live up to his name. Gordon Elliott-trained ENVOI ALLEN cost £400,000 but has looked worthy of that price tag on his runs so far. He’s won all four races since joining Elliott and looks a potential champ himself.
HAYLEY MOORE – PRESENTER FOR SKY SPORTS RACING
Gordon Elliott-trained DELTA WORK goes for the RSA Chase and he is not only my nap of the day, it’s my nap of the week!
He looked like he was made for steeplechasing and that has proved to be the case. His form stands out. His wins over fences — two of which have come in Grade One races — include a defeat of the very useful La Richebourg, who would probably have started favourite for yesterday’s Arkle Trophy Novices’ Chase had injury not ruled him out of the Festival.
Delta Work also has form at the meeting. He is trying to emulate Gold Cup hope Presenting Percy by landing the RSA Chase the year after winning the Per temps Hurdle.
My father Gary is running BEAT THE JUDGE in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. He’s a really honest, game horse and he looks fairly handicapped. At odds of around 25-1, he is a fair eachway bet.
Altior is the red-hot favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase but will start at unbackable odds for most punters. The alternative would be MIN, either as an each-way option or in markets offered ‘without the favourite’.
CAPTAIN HEATH (MARCUS TOWNEND)
METICULOUS carries the colours of owner Michael Tabor, more commonly seen in top Flat races, and trainer Joseph O’Brien has booked his Flat jockey brother Donnacha to ride. The selection was behind favourite Envoi Allen last time but ran an eye-catching trial for today’s Bumper.
FORMCAST (NIGEL TAYLOR)
CHAMP has improved to win all his four starts this season, culminating with a facile victory in a strongly contested Grade One Hurdle at Newbury last December. Champ has a clear chance on that form and should outclass this field today.
BEAT THE FAVOURITE
Our football experts like to go against the grain with their tips. Here are their picks to trounce Wednesday’s fancied runners…
5.30 MASTER DEBONAIR
CELEBRITY NAP: ABBEY CLANCY
My husband Pete tells me I should tip Altior as he will probably win, but I rarely listen to him! So, I’ll have a little each-way bet on… 3.30 GOD’S OWN
WINNERS ENCLOSURE – BEST BETS, BEST ODDS WITH LADBROKES’ NICOLA McGEADY
The opening race has the potential to cause the bookies a lot of damage if Champ does the business. We expect punters to latch on to the Ballymore favourite for many reasons, including the fact he’s named after Sir Anthony McCoy, he’s owned by JP McManus, and he’s got five ones next to his name.
My banker of the week is Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase. He’ll be one of the key horses who could make or break our week as punters adore him. It is easy to see why – he’s a three-time Festival winner, and his sparkling return to action at Navan was superb.