On The Cards: Today at Cheltenham
Wednesday’s action gets under way at 1.30 with the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle. Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh teamed up with Vautour to win yesterday’s opener and have the favourite with Faugheen.
He is unbeaten in five races, the latest coming in a Grade 3 race at Limerick. Red Sherlock is highly regarded by the David Pipe stable and held off a persistent challenge from Rathvinden here in January.
The RSA Chase at 2.05 has attracted a field of 15 with Mullins again to the fore with Ballycasey. Much has been made of his fall on the home gallops but he jumped safely when beating Don Cossack at Leopardstown last month.
O’Faolains Boy produced a shock when upsetting Many Clouds and Gevrey Chambertin in the Reynoldstown at Ascot. Smad Place was top class over hurdles and held off Sam Winner at Newbury but it could be close between the pair on this surface.
The Coral Cup at 2.40 is typically wide open with the weights headed by the veteran Dunguib. Nicky Henderson’s Whisper is also high in the weights after being narrowly beaten in the Welsh Champion Hurdle but Nico de Boinville takes off a valuable 5lbs.
The feature race is the Queen Mother Champion Chase at 3.20 with Sire De Grugy hoping to cap a superb season for Gary Moore. The popular chestnut was very impressive at Ascot last time but is another that would have appreciated a bit of rain.
Henderson may not have Sprinter Sacre this year but is still strongly represented with Captain Conan and Kid Cassidy. A strong Irish challenge is led by former winner Sizing Europe along with Arvika Ligeonierre for Willie Mullins.
The Glenfarclas Handicap Chase sees a clash between previous winners Balthazar King and Big Shu. The former is a standing dish at this course with six victories and he will put up his usual game display from the front.
The Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at 4.40 could go the way of Ivan Grozny who has been diverted from the Triumph to run here. He was disappointing when fourth last time behind Guitar Pete but will wear a tongue-tie on Wednesday.
The closing Champion Bumper has become a benefit for Mullins in recent years but the home team has a live hope with Modus. He is bred for the flat and could provide Robert Stephens with a maiden festival victory.
Selections: 1.30 Faugheen, 2.05 Sam Winner, 2.40 Whisper, 3.20 Sire De Grugy, 4.00 Balthazar King, 4.40 Ivan Grozny, 5.15 Modus