Cheltenham Day Two Preview

The second afternoon of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival looms up and it is tailor-made for jumps racing’s brightest star to once more thrill his adoring public. More about Tiger Roll later, but Altior also bids for glory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and shades top billing!

Altior unstoppable in Queen Mother

There are no certainties in racing, we all know that, but reigning Queen Mother Champion Chaser Altior is as close as it gets and he is 1.36 to retain his crown here.

He has never been beaten over jumps and is now 12-12 over fences. Here at Cheltenham he’s a perfect 4-4. There are no chinks in his armour that we have been to date. For just the briefest of moments in this race last year, Nico De Boinville’s mount appeared to be in a modicum of trouble out in the countryside but he soon remedied matters and powered up the Cheltenham hill to win by seven-lengths.

Min chased him home then and looks his main rival – if there is such a thing – again now. Sadly, the challenge of Footpad faltered this season, with last year’s Arkle winner having been tipped my many to give Altior something to think about. Nicky Henderson’s star is the current jumps racing icon and he will prove a joy to watch once more here. He’s very short in the betting but backing Min to be second to him (forecast) once more looks like a safe option.

Champ can put Ballymore rivals on ropes

It could be a very good second day at the meeting for Britain’s champion trainer as Team Henderson looks to put a strong Irish challenge down in the opening contest.

Henderson had nothing short of a plethora of potentially strong contenders for the Ballymore this season, so it can almost be taken as something of a signal that he’s relying solely on Champ to go into battle for him.

He runs in the famous JP McManus hoops and is, of course, named after the retired perennial champion jockey and darling of the punters, AP McCoy. He’s been impressive so far and has won 4-4 over timber since going down a neck to the smart Vinndication on debut at Ascot last year.

He was last spotted winning the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury in December, where he displayed a pleasing turn of foot to come away from Brewin’upastorm. He’s favourite at 3.50 and is the one to beat.

Of course last year this race was all about rising superstar Samcro, who would justify the hype in wining well. Sadly, he’s missing the Festival this year, but stablemate Battleoverdoyen is a major player for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy as they seek to win this prize again. He’s 3.75 but equally interesting is Easy Game at 21.00 for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins (four times winners of this since 2008).

He defied plenty bad luck in running to win a Grade 2 in Ireland before Christmas and might have a good bit more to say on the big stage now.

The Tiger is Cheltenham Royalty

More talented horses have come and gone, but very few will be assured the sort of place Gordon Elliott’s Tiger Roll has earned for himself in Cheltenham Festival folklore.

By Derby winner Authorized, he stormed home to win the Triumph Hurdle over two-miles in 2014, though he’d then fail to graduate into the upper echelons as a hurdler, struggling here in the Stayers’ a year on.

His career was seemingly going nowhere fast by the time he came back here in 2017 and won the four-miler for amateurs under Lisa O’Neill. He was back again last March to win the Cross Country and then sensationally added the Grand National at Aintree.

He’s a redoubtable little star and is deservedly favourite at 2.25 to win another Cross Country Chase on Wednesday. Just to showcase his talents, he won a Grade 2 over hurdles in Ireland last month, despite trainer Elliott having suggested before the race that Tiger Roll was ‘about 75 per-cent fit’.

Once viewed as a novelty contest by some, the Cross Country will command plenty attention and there will be few roars louder this week than if Tiger Roll comes home in front again for Festival win number four.

Curtis can have say in RSA

The RSA Chase has gone the way of the favourite three times in the last four year, with Don Poli, Might Bite (infamously) and Presenting Percy (spectacularly) all obliging the punters – though the latter two could scarcely have been more different in their winning methods!

Santini has been near the head of the market for a long while but the whispers and doubts about him have gone on nearly as long, and it is a worry that Nicky Henderson was mulling over what to do as recently as Sunday.

Arguably, Delta Work has the better form in the book regardless and he looks set to go off favourite at 2.88 for the Elliott team, with Santini now an easy to back 4.33 chance in the betting.

He’s yet to win over fences but Paul Nicholls has been sweet on the chances of Topofthegame for some considerable time now and he is a solid contender on form.

Another one that has been aimed in this direction for a while is 12.00 hope Drovers Lane for Rebecca Curtis. He was a course winner in December over a shorter trip but his Neath-based train is fully confident that three-miles is the right dosage for him.

Curtis had no runner at this meeting last year but prior to that she’d had a winner every year for four years on the spin, despite having limited stock at her Welsh base. She’s only got two runners this time and don’t rule out either Drovers Lane or Lisnagar Oscar (in the Albert Bartlett on Friday) advertising her credentials strongly.