Cheltenham Day 2 Selections
The 2022 Cheltenham Festival continues on Wednesday with another mouthwatering seven races for punters to dive into. Our GG Analyst has identified a selection to follow in all seven races on Day 2 and can hopefully point you in the direction of a few winners!
Three Stripe Life (13:30 Cheltenham, Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle)
Sir Gerhard will be a warm order to take the day 2 opener after connections decided to step the unbeaten hurdler up in trip, after toying with the idea of running the seven-year-old in the Supreme on the opening day. Willie Mullins’ runner commands the utmost respect given his profile, and the former winning point-to-pointer could improve immensely as his stamina is drawn out.
However, despite being a comfortable winner in Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival, he didn’t overly convince with his fluency over the obstacles after making some notable errors throughout that 2mile contest. Class may have ultimately prevailed on that occasion, but the seven-year-old is a very short price for Wednesday’s opener and could be one to take on.
THREE STRIPE LIFE was no match for Sir Gerhard when the pair clashed last time out but Gordon Elliot’s smart six-year-old is promised to be suited by Wednesday’s contest and could close the gap on Sir Gerhard. A half brother to winners over 2m4f-3miles, Gordon Elliot’s charge has been crying out for a step up in trip in his recent outings over 2miles, finishing 0.5l behind stablemate Mighty Potter after meeting interference in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown over Christmas, before travelling much the best behind Sir Gerhard before lacking a crucial gear change over the minimum distance to go down by 6l at the line.
It will take a big performance from Three Stripe Life to reverse the form with Sir Gerhard once more but Gordon Elliot’s runner remains a fair price in the current market, and a test of stamina at this stage of his career looks the ideal move.
Capodanno (2:10 Cheltenham, Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase)
Britain will be confident of landing the Brown Advisory with a host of strong challengers, headed by Paul Nicholls’ unbeaten chaser Bravemansgame, who has been faultless over the larger obstacles this campaign, which included a dominant display in the Grade 1 Kauto Star on Boxing Day before giving weight and a beating to three rivals on handicap debut back in February at Newbury.
Paul Nicholls’ star has impressed with his efficiency over fences and is certainly a top-class staying chaser in the making. The seven-year-old is a worthy favourite especially given how this race has unfolded in the last week or so, However, the Irish trained runners can’t be discounted despite the long odds and it could pay to take a chance on Willie Mullins’ CAPODANNO bouncing back to form after an early unseat in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown last time out.
The former progressive hurdler rounded off last season with a commanding victory over timber at the Punchestown Festival, upped to 3miles for just the second time in his career, Willie Mullins’ charge powered clear from his 25 rivals to win the valuable handicap by 12l from a mark of 132.
Since switched to fences this year, the Manduro gelding overcame inexperience and a bad mistake at the second last to win on seasonal reappearance at Naas over 2m3f, before giving odds-on favourite Bob Olinger a scare in the Grade 3 Kildare Novice Chase at Punchestown in January over the extended 2m4f. That penultimate effort was particularly encouraging considering Capodanno finished within 5l of Henry De Bromhead’s former Festival winner and pulled a further 27l clear of dual grade 1 winning stablemate Gaillard Du Mesnil in the process.
The six-year-old remains completely unexposed as he tackles 3miles for the first time over fences on Wednesday and whilst he has to tackle established staying performers, Willie Mullins’ charge looks up to the task and can provide the trainer with a sixth win in the contest after Monkfish took last season’s renewal.
Drop The Anchor (2:50 Cheltenham, Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle)
The Coral Cup has always been fiercely contested with 26 runners scheduled to go to post in this season’s handicap event. Nicky Henderson is often the trainer to follow in this particular contest, winning the Coral Cup four times since 2010. His sole runner Call Me Lord has returned to hurdles in the past two outings after a failed spell chasing and this former Grade 2 winner can’t be discounted after an encouraging return to form. The likes of Camprond and Unexpected Party are also worthy of a second look as they both still appear fairly weighted and have been talked up for this race in recent stable tours by their respective connections.
Dame De Compagnie was a well-backed winner of this race in the famous colours of JP McManus back in 2020 and perhaps the leading Festival owner can get amongst the winners in this year’s edition with DROP THE ANCHOR.
After finishing down the field on seasonal return at Ascot in Grade 3 company, Pat Fahy’s charge hinted at a return to form last time out in a valuable handicap at Leopardstown, staying on well in the closing stages over 2miles to finish fifth under jockey Simon Torrens – that effort has subsequently taken a timely form boost after ninth-placed finisher Surprise Package bolted up in the Imperial Cup at Sandown last weekend.
The three-time hurdle winner has previous Festival form in the book, finishing strongly from off the pace in last season’s Country Hurdle to finish seventh when beaten just over 3l. The trainer has seemingly targeted this handicap contest for some time with Drop The Anchor and it wouldn’t be a surprise if there was sustained support for the eight-year-old as he returns to Prestbury Park.
Shishkin (3:30 Cheltenham, Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase)
Surely the British banker of the week? SHISHKIN will look to make it a hat-trick of Festival wins when lining up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday after previously landing the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2019 before putting his rivals to the sword in last season’s Arkle.
Shishkin extended his remarkable unbeaten chase run to seven when getting the better of Energumene in a titanic tussle in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot back in January, staying on determinedly to pass Willie Mullins’ star two-miler after the final flight in what was arguably the race of the season so far. There should be little separating the pair once more but Shishkin is proven around Cheltenham and there is a slight question mark if Energumene will be suited to the demands of the Prestbury Park track.
Nicky Henderson’s star has taken the same route to the Festival as former Festival and stable legends Altior and Sprinter Sacre and is extremely difficult to oppose in his bid for further Festival glory.
Tiger Roll (4:10 Cheltenham, Glenfarclas Chase Cross Country Chase)
‘King of the banks’ Enda Bolger has won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase a record five times and whilst the last of those victories came back in 2016 with Josies Orders, the Irish trainers runners always have to respect in this event and has three leading chances on Wednesday in the form of Midnight Maestro, Shady Operator and recent French recruit Prengarde.
Although the trio should run their race, it’s very likely this will be the last time we will see TIGER ROLL on any racecourse and it would be a fitting way to bow out if the dual Grand National Hero can claim the event for a record fourth time.
The twelve-year-old has not shown much in three outings since retaining his crown from Easysland in last season’s renewal, finishing a distant fourth in the Grand National on final start last season, before failing to complete in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on seasonal return. And whilst a spin over hurdles at Navan in January didn’t tell us much about his wellbeing, the five-time Festival winner was in similar form last season before triumphing on the biggest stage and could be primed to run a huge race once more.
Thyme White (4:50 Cheltenham, Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase)
Trainer Paul Nicholls has a tremendous record in the Grand Annual, winning the contest a record four times in all – two of those victories coming in the last six editions. The Somerset handler has been bullish about THYME WHITE in the lead up to this very race and connections will be expecting a bold show after preserving the six-year-old mark of 142.
The six-year-old has not been seen since comfortably justifying favouritism in a handicap chase at Doncaster in December, suggesting that the Grand Annual has been on the agenda for quite some time for Paul Nicholls’ unexposed chaser.
Although below his best on two previous visits to the Festival when racing over hurdles, Thyme White has looked a transformed character since wind surgery and attention has switched to the larger obstacles.
A solid runner-up effort on chasing debut behind Amarillo Sky at Wincanton highlighted him as one to follow, and although coming to grief at the first behind the well-treated Brave Seasca at Ascot, the six-year-old thoroughly impressed with his attitude when racing at Town Moor, travelling and jumping extremely well for the first time under Bryony Frost. Thyme White has form figures of 3-2-1-9-2 when returning from a similar layoff and certainly appeals more than others in this wide-open affair.
American Mike (5:30 Cheltenham, Weatherbys Champion Bumper)
The Irish have certainly made this race their own in recent years, in particular, trainer Willie Mullins, who is often the man to side with in the concluding Day 2 race with a staggering eleven wins in this contest since the first race back in 1992. The trainer managed to land consecutive 1-2 finishes in 2021 and 2020 and was responsible for four of the first five home in the 2018 season.
However, favourites don’t have a particularly strong record in the Champion Bumper, as only two have managed to get their head in front in the last ten renewals. Willie Mullins has the exciting and hugely talented Facile Vega heading the market but considering Champagne Fever (2012), Briar Hill (2013), Relegate (2018) and Ferny Hollow (2020) have all obliged for the trainer in recent years when seemingly unfancied, and perhaps the market leader is one to take on this time around as well.
AMERICAN MIKE should arguably be closer in the betting than he currently is and has looked a horse of immense promise since joining trainer Gordon Elliot from the point-to-point field.
The exciting four-year-old was quick to lay his marker down as a potential Champion bumper type when stretching clear under Jamie Codd on debut at Down Royal last October, quickening away from his six toiling rivals to win by 7l. After that commanding first time out success, the expensive point recruit justified prohibited odds at the second time of asking, pulling 17l clear of his nearest pursuer and labelling himself as a superstar in the making in the process as he maintained his unbeaten record.
Both trainer and jockey have compared the flashy five-year-old to former bumper winners Envoi Allen and Sir Gerhard and if the stable vibes are correct, then he looks a tad overpriced in the concluding race on day 2.