Cheltenham Festival: day two
A flick through Wednesday’s races
Wow, what a way to start the Cheltenham Festival, and when Labaik crossed the line ahead of Melon at 25/1 in the first, we knew it just wasn’t going to be a day for favourite backers. We size up each race on day two, and run through our best bets below…..
Neptune Novices Hurdle
Harry Fry and Noel Fehily join forces on Neon Wolf to bring the curtain up on day two, and we fancy that as a winning combination. The hugely talented five-year-old gelding is unbeaten in three career starts, scoring at Uttoxeter, Exeter and Haydock, the latter by a sizeable margin over nearest rival Elgin. He gets better every time we see him, and I expect that trend to continue. 7/4 favourite with Coral at present, but he fully deserves to be. Will take all the beating.
We’re really not expecting a repeat of day one, and go with another market leader to live up to the pre-race hype in Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite, currently circling at 3/1. He looked on-course to do a job on Boxing Day at Kempton, but fell at the last with the race at his mercy. He put things right at Doncaster last time, coming home unchallenged, and we have a real classy horse on our hands here. Well worth our support, and I expect him to do it in style again.
What a competitive field we have turned out for the Coral Cup this year, but I am going for a bit of an upset and taking Alan King’s River Frost at a bulky 22/1. That may be one for each-way players to have a stab at, but I have saw more than enough from him in recent goes to suggest he’s up to the task here. Won three of his last four, including over two-miles five-furlongs at Kempton last time. That’ll certainly boost your betting balance.
Star of the show on Wednesday? Douvan, and by some distance too. He is 1/4 nailed on favourite at the time of writing, and despite the hot-pots letting backers down yesterday, I expect Mullins’ super star to attract plenty of support, both in accumulators and from those big-hitters who have the readies to steam in. If at his best, and there’s reason to believe he is, nothing gets near Douvan here.
Cross Country Chase
Another at a price, and Sausalito Sunrise goes at 12/1, which is bigger than I think he should be here. The experienced gelding has won at Cheltenham in the past, and if he is up to the task today, he should out-run his price. Warmed up for this with a place at Ascot last month and I have a sneaky feeling he could upset a few of these. Worth an each-way poke.
Fred Winter Hurdle
Nietzsche opened at 20/1 and has been easing since, which I am surprised to see. Brian Ellison’s rep is more that up to the challenges of this race, if he keeps going the way we have seen. The three-year-old gelding grabbed a double in January, beating decent company at Market Rasen and Catterick. That would’ve been the perfect tonic for this step up in class, but if he continues to improve, he will have a say.
Last race of the day and all the talk will be about Carter McKay, if our thinking turns out to be shrewd. Team Mullins have high hopes for their five-year-old, and we do too. He won at Naas in February when going off as odds-on fav, and was as impressive as the pre-match betting suggested he would be. There’s more in the tank – let’s see it at 9/2.