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Preview 13 Mar 2008

Cheltenham Festival day 2

After day 2 was a blow out (Pardon the pun), we are left with two days of racing that is quite possibly the best two days racing ever to be staged in the sport for kings. Day one of the festival saw some interesting winners with Katchit denying Osana in the champion hurdle and while not a vintage year, no one can take it away from the first two who are both as game and genuine as they come. The Irish grip has been weakened on the 2M event but they may look to the Supreme winner Captain Cee bee as the future in the champion hurdle despite being quite old for a novice. The 2nd in the supreme hurdle however has be taken seriously as he travelled like a superstar and has better days ahead of him. Tidal Bay was the highlight on day one of the festival as he warmed to his task and showed a change of foot that was quite explosive to the eye, while blessed with Speed his future may well lie over further with the Ryanair a possible stepping stone to challenging the likes of Kauto Star and Denman in the gold cup in a few years time.

Anyway on to today's bumper card in which we have 10 races, but we will start in race 2 of ten.

1.05 Royal sun Alliance Novice chase

This novice chase has slightly been devalued over the years as the top novices such as Tidal bay has sided to the Arkle and the shorter test of stamina and without a stand out horse like Denman in the race this year it looks a very open affair to be contested and no surprise to see it 5-1 the field.

The Irish have a interesting run in the Mare Pomme Tippey who gets her sex allowance against the boys here and stays this trip well, with Ruby Walsh up on top she has the perfect assistance in the saddle as he will switch her off and be gentle on her, she could well prove to be a top mare and better then these if acting around Cheltenham which is always a concern with these horses coming over to Cheltenham for the first time. The home team are led by Air force one who has been a bit of a hype horse since last years festival where he stayed on up the hill in the 3M novice hurdle, always been earmarked as a chaser he will carry on progressing as a chaser and could well prove to be good enough to contest the Gold cup in 12 months time.

Joe Lively is a course specialist but may have had a hard season to date, his wins at this track have been mightily impressive and if he hasn't lost the edge at this late stage of the season could go close if getting into a rhythm. Silverburn a half brother to Denman has a big reputation to live up to after tasting defeat in the Ballymore properties like his brother did. Hasn't progressed in the same manner as his brother he jumps well and proved that when winning at Sandown last time in a manner of a decent horse. Slightly jumps to his right and occasionally has ran down the fences, he is clever how he overcomes the obstacles and corrects himself. Roll Along is a interesting run in this race after finishing like a steam train in a handicap last time to the Hairy Lemon he needs to improve on that running but could be well up to doing so to maybe claim a place in this race.

Not a vintage year and nothing really stands out and the hope is that Pomme Tippey can become a superstar and carry on her progression. Albatras Run makes one to many mistakes for my liking and may struggle to confirm last running.

Advised bet - Pomme Tippey 1pt e/w @ 5-1 (BF5's)

1.40 The Feltham Novice handicap chase

Usually the first race on the card and has been moved forward in time to make way for the champion bumper at the end of the day. A big field as usual for these handicappers that are regarded just below top echelon of the novice chasing game and usually has a well handicapped grade 3 chase in here that has been layed out for the race.

Paul Nichols usually doesn't escape the handicapper's radar as many of his chasers are highly regarded and he has a strong hand in this race with three runners in the first five in the weights in which the top weighted Big Bucks has a claimer on board to take the weight down to a respectable weight. The race is quite new to the festival so weight stats and age of novices have little if no baring on this race as a factor and with the champion trainer having three near the top of the handicap it could say the handicapper has taken no risks or they are just shade below his top class novices.

Big Bucks has ran well in a grade 1 chase this season and could still make up into a decent chaser in time as he is fairly unexposed and should improve for this trip and big field a good solid clip, the jockey isn't off putting as he has looked another very accomplished claimer turned out by the yard (having good horses helps). Arturio is a very dark horse in the make up of this handicap, having only been seen twice in the UK so far in which he beat something wells in good fashion on his only start over fences. Disappointed when put back over hurdles last time he should be skinned fitter for that run and could be anything over fences having won over course and distance is a bonus. The horse he beat something Wells reposes today with a stone weight swing here and could well take a hand in the finish of this race. They had Boomshakalaka well beaten in behind that will be of interest with the champion jockey on board.

The last of Paul Nichols runners is Dear Villez who has the riding skills of Ruby Walsh who is looking for his best two days of his life. Has done nothing wrong since getting to grips with the fences and has a chance if copping with the quicker underfoot conditions. Ambobo catches the eye for the Irish coming here in good form after battling on to win narrowly in a beginners chase and may have lenient mark for this while Possol at the right end of the handicap has done nothing wrong and is unexposed in this. Quite a trappy handicap with nothing really standing out and Paul Nichols should have a good chance of landing this event.

Advised bets - Big Bucks 1pt @ 20-1 (22BF) & Arturio 1pt @ 12-1 (17BF)

2.20 Queen mum champion chase

A small field for day 2feature race, which Paul Nichols once again has a strong hand with Master Minded and Twist magic both being well fancied for this through out the season and likely to dethrone Voy Por Ustedes as the champion chaser. Last year Well Chief was sent of a short price favourite and failed to jump which sadly looks to be the last time we see the last of the 3 best-rated 2M of the modern day.

This year there isn't likely to be a favourite as short as that and Master Minded is likely to start joint favourite with the current champion. Tariminbleu a handicap winner earlier in the season is fancied to go close in this handicap but the ground may not be testing enough for him to win at the top despite the great form of the Pipe yard. Voy Por Ustedes could well continue his great form at this track and there was no doubt he was closing up on master minded last time but the Paul Nichols game spirit winner was no doubtly idling in front and the way he passed through to take the lead he could give us a start of a new exciting 2M era. Twist Magic a lot of peoples fancy after his Arkle and Aintree runs has suffered a set back in the mud and doesn't seem to have that fighting spirit that you need to win a Queen mum champion chase and even though likely to trade short in running he isn't taken to win this. Fair Along on his day looks very good and after a absence he travelled with purpose against Kauto star before getting tired, he still has claims over this trip may have been better suited with the Ryanair then this having shown he has stamina with his runs on the flat.

Master Minded has done nothing wrong and deserves the up most respect here today and Ruby Walsh could be the man to make Clive Smith a very happy man over the next 48hrs.

Advised bet - Master Minded 3pts win @ 3-1 (BF100-30)

2.55 The Ryanair chase

Fast becoming one of the best races at the festival we have some genuine grade 1 chasers on show in Our Vic and The Listener who has the form in the book in the 12 months to say they are amongst the finest horses about and this renewal of this race shows that the staying chaser division is amongst the best around at present.

The field may be the second smallest with Tarminbleu and Newmill going for the shorter option then this it isn't lacking with quality with all bar two with genuine grade 1 form in the field. Turko is this year's runner for Paul Nichols who could well be looking to rack up another winner on the card here today and if it was around a right handed track you would just back him to come out on top as he has won every time when going that way around. If he is to win this grade 1 he needs to improve on his jumping left handed and with it looking a top race he may find a few to good. Our Vic is very talented and on his day can be very hard to beat, often talked of as a gold cup horse he has shown that he doesn't stay that far as he has to much cruising speed and while getting 3M at Kempton this trip here is ideal on a course like Cheltenham, with the Pipe yard in form seeing him out the frame is impossible despite being fully exposed.

Racing Demon on the other hand has course form despite the view that he is better right handed, he has improved this season and looks a horse very much on top of his game, he has potential to improve more and could easily go close in this race for a trainer who holds much faith in him. Mossbank is the Irish challenger and is clearly one of much potential he is another who is going the right way and if jumping cleanly should have a favourites chance. The Listener I feel wont go off as favourite for this as he seems to improve for the trip to Ireland and could be the new Beef or Salmon I feel, this isn't his race but deserves his chance.

Advised Bets - Mossbank 2pts win @ 7-2 (BF7-2) & Racing Demon 1pt @ 12-1 (BF12's)

3.30 World Hurdle

The Feature race for day three of the festival sees the return of the champion Inglis Drever who is a warm favourite to make history and become a triple staying champion. First win in this race cam when taking the scalp of modern day staying machine Baracouda to pieces up the hill and if it wasn't for injury could have had a hat-rick of wins by now in this event as the title was only leant to My way de Solzan who is one of two runners in this race for Alan King.

Blazing Bailey should be better then ever in this event at the age of six and could be the one to be the short priced champ here today in what isn't the best staying hurdle line up seen and Ruby Walsh could benefit for the spare here which choc taking the ex-champ as his ride. Lough Derg has done nothing but impress this season and good effort today could see the order of merit tied up before Aintree where he goes with a better chance of winning. Kasbah Bliss won well last time but there are holes to pick in the form and looks a little under priced now.

Inglis Drever victory would be good for the sport but his price is a little low and even though he is likely to be bigger in running his layers have grown wise to his style of running and it wont be until he cant win that he will become a much bigger price. No hype horse this season in Black Jack Ketchum it could be quite open for the places today and three horses at bigger prices are interesting in the shape of Kazal, The Market Man and the former dual champion hurdler Hardy Eustace who is always interesting around Prestbury Park.

The Market Man has a lot in favour if able to progress to genuine grade 1 class and while he has a 2nd back run question mark over him, he has the look of a classy horse in the way that he travelled at Sandown last time and with that return over fences I marked him down as improving with age and looks a live each-way chance. Kazal hasn't done anything wrong and if staying this trip on a stiff track at championship pace could well surprise a few with Noel Meade horse having a similar profile. Hardy Eustace if staying could be very game over the last, but will he have enough kick in the finish these days it is to be seen.

Advised bets - The Market Man 1pts e/w @ 22-1 (BF22's + 5's) & Kazal 1pt e/w @ 16-1 (BF 17's + 4's)

4.05 The Racingpost Plate

The last of the TV races to play is a open looking handicap and JP Mcmanus Don't Push it is a potential top class runner in this handicap from top weight and could give the owner another victory at the festival. Seen in a hurdle race protecting his mark he has got a finishing kick to him and rates as one of the best chances for Tony Mccoy if close at the finish. Gwananko flopped badly last time at odds on and may be to un exposed to totally discount over fences and he could well improve to go close of this mark for mesas Nichols & Walsh.

Bible Lord has done nothing but improve this season, but will need to run a lot better then he did in the Hennessy gold cup where he was beaten some way by Denman, this might not be up to that standard but he was beaten to far to suggest he is quite good enough for this level yet but with a little more improvement he wouldn't be to far off winning this. Boychuk has been reserved for this in my view and should give a good account of himself for Philip Hobbs and he looks set to run a big race from this weight, while Oedipe if fit will no doubt run a big race for Nicky Henderson on first run for over a year, he is a interesting horse as he was so impressive on debut. Crozan is interesting pick for Micky and maybe he has finally found his feet, he certainly is good enough to win of this mark, while Mighty Matters who won the other day looks up against it.

While don't Push it looks a potential good thing, Boychuk could spring a big surprise here.

Advised bets - Boychuck 1pt e/w @ 33-1 (BF40+6)

Well Chief