Ballynagour set for redemption on huge day for Pipe team

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The C4 cameras descend for the second day of Cheltenham’s Open meeting and below are some brief previews of those televised races.

1:50 Cheltenham – Spring Heeled

A hugely competitive renewal and one that could go the way of Spring Heeled from Jim Culloty’s fledging yard.

The three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey’s small string are becoming renowned for their consistency, typified by this son of Old Vic who has only been out of the front four three times in his 14 starts. Barry Geraghty’s mount has returned this campaign in even better heart with form of 2132 in his four appearances this term and with the stables only two runners in the last fortnight running with great credit he looks certain to go well.

Balthazar King’s gutsy win in the Cross Country Chase yesterday gives an extra glint to the form of Tour des Champs who was seven lengths behind Philip Hobbs’ charge on his reappearance at the course in the middle of October. On that evidence he would have a massive chance but preference is still for Spring Heeled to provide a popular winner for one of the track’s most loved.

2:30 Cheltenham – Ballynagour

The Pipe’s have an extraordinary record in this race down the years and the day’s big one could be returning to Pond House once more courtesy of the talented Ballynagour.

A bitterly disappointing run at the Festival, when a heavily backed favourite for the Byrne Group Plate, left a sour taste in the mouth of many punters but it had only come weeks after the performance which elevated him to the top of the market that day and he deserves to be forgiven.

On his last three seasonal reappearances the seven-year-old has won twice and finished second and with the stable in raring form there are plenty of reasons to think Tom Scudamore’s partner can get the job done.

There are no shortage of alternatives but respect has to be afforded to Jonjo O’Neills Johns Spirit, who looked a different proposition from when last seen when winning at the track on his return a month ago. That victory in a hot handicap under the retained Richie McLernon reads very well and his guaranteed race fitness provides a peace of mind that some of the other main protagonists cannot provide.

3:00 Cheltenham – Silver Eagle

Kim Bailey has his yard in rattling good nick at the moment and another decent prize could be heading the short distance to Thorndale Farm thanks to the similarly in-form Silver Eagle. The local trainer has sent out 18 runners in the last fortnight with ten finding the money with his charge’s consistency even more impressive having never been out of the frame from his six career starts.

Sam Thomas’ mount’s close finish behind Thomas Crapper has been complimented by the winner following-up that performance with a shock win in the David Johnson Memorial on the first day of the Open meeting and although that could hamper the price it should give a massive lift to his chances.

David Pipe took this prize last year with Goulanes and arrives with another strong hand in the shape of Edmund Kean. A winner on three of his five stars, the son of Old Vic has to be respected for a yard in fine form but he can’t boast as many positives as the selection, Silver Eagle.

3:35 Cheltenham – Timesremembered

A race that revolves around Timesremembered and rightfully so. Chasing a hat-trick following wins on his reappearance at Uttoxeter, and latest, when notching a facile win at Chepstow at the end of October, Emma Lavelle’s exciting recruit – bought for 70,000 euros after a NH Flat race at Fairyhouse at the end of last season – looks by far the most likely winner despite most of the opposition arriving in form.

His Grade 2 victory in Wales was a great performance but if he was to disappoint Paul Nicholl’s debutant Port Melon could take advantage. A winner in both his starts between the flags his stable have an exemplary record in getting their horses fit for their debuts and it would be a surprise if the son of Presenting didn’t go well.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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