Cheltenham 2020 Day 2: Tiger Roll looking for fourth festival win on the trot as Envoi Allen set to confirm superstardom
That was a cracking start to Cheltenham 2020, the highlight had to be Honeysuckle’s in the Mare’s Hurdle under a great ride from Rachael Blackmore.
Her win added to Put The Kettle On in the Arkle gave Waterford trainer Henry De Bromhead a 55/1.
Day two’s excitement has been tempered slightly by the withdrawal of Altior in the feature race of the day, the Queen Mother Chase, so let’s just start there.
Queen Mother Champion Chase– 3.30pm
Even with Altior in the race, the leaning was towards Defi De Seuil who has been on fire since returning from a 200-day layoff late last year.
He will face a good challenge from Willie Mullins’s Chacun Pour Soi, the last horse to beat him at Punchestown last May but it looks like Defi has come on a lot from that.
Verdict – Defi De Seuil to win at 11/10
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – 1.30pm
For many, the banker of the week goes in this race – Envoi Allen and there is really no reason to back against Gordon Elliott’s stable star.
Envoi Allen beat Abacadabras by a good length and a half late last year in Fairyhouse, and Abacadabras was unlucky losing the Supreme Novice by a head yesterday.
The feeling is this field is nowhere near as strong as the Supreme, so it all looks positive for Envoi Allen.
His main challenge may come from, and be careful with the name, The Big Breakaway (not The Big Getaway who also runs) who has won three on the trot in handy company and looks like he can improve.
Verdict – Envoi Allen to win at 4/6, The Big Breakaway e/w at 10/1
RSA Novice Chase – 2.10pm
Minella Indo made this man’s festival last year coming in at 50/1 in the Albert Bartlett and therefore has a fondness for this horse.
A lot is going for him, Henry De Bromhead is the trainer and has already proven he has his horses right for their attempts at Prestbury Park.
But that optimism comes with a proviso – that was a hurdle and this is a chase.
There are others more exposed to the bigger obstacles, and there is no more trying track to find a horse out.
That’s why two horses have to come into the picture, Copperhead and Battleoverdoyen, both of whom have more chasing experience.
Just have a feeling for Copperhead who was hugely impressive beating Two for Gold and the popular Danny Whizzbang in his last outing at Ascot.
Verdict – Copperhead to win at 5/1
Coral Cup Handicap – 2.50pm
This race looks like a lottery and if the handicapper has done his job right could easily see a mass of horse muscle heading for the line.
To me, it makes no sense that the second favourite Alfa Mix is priced at 10/1, while the horse which beat it last time out Kilfenora, is at 40/1 on the back of a poor run in better company a few weeks back. Kilfenora still crossed the line ahead of Tiger Roll, so make of that what you will.
The winner of that race Cracking Smart can be gotten at 28/1 and that’s probably the smart money even him and Kilfenora carrying top weights.
Verdict – Cracking Smart e/w at 28/1 and Kilfenora e/w at 40/1. (Seven Places)
Cross Country Chase – 4.10pm
All eyes will be on Tiger Roll and deservedly. The back-to-back Grand National winner is going for a three-peat in this race and a fourth on the trot at the festival and few would back against him.
But this race has been getting stronger fields of late with it being an ideal prep race for the Grand National, therefore an interesting entry this year is the hugely popular chaser Might Bite, who despite a huge heart just cannot match the top chasers these days.
The races extra length and slightly lesser class of chaser could be ideal for Nicky Henderson’s charge to sneak into a place.
Verdict – Tiger Roll to win at 10/11, Might Bite e/w at 18/1.
Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – 4.50pm
Trying to unpick this race made my head spin.
Verdict – Use your time wisely to pick a winner of the last – if you must try Blacko at 9/1 to win, has improved massively since moving over from France.
Champion Bumper – 5.30pm
Willie Mullins’s horses always seem to go off favourite in this race and a lot of it is down to the fact he wins this race a lot, a hell of a lot – nine times in fact, the last being Relegate in 2018.
He comes with a good hand again this year in favourite Appreciate It, Ferny Hollow and an interesting one in Five Bar Brian who after two-years out, won on his return at Fairyhouse in January. Mullins has kept him quiet since – the way he likes it in this race and at 28/1 may be worth keeping an eye on the market.
A few other horses look well priced in this field, Adrimel at 28/1 and Oceans Wind at 16/1, the latter having a few battles with Audacity, a very generously priced 66/1.
Verdict – Five Bar Brain to win at 28/1, Adrimel e/w at 28/1.