An explosive start to the Cheltenham Festival saw favourites Apple’s Jade and Getabird fail to justify favouritism yesterday afternoon.
There are two more good things running this afternoon, with Samcro and Altior expected to hack up in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase, respectively.
Elsewhere, Black Corton and Bryony Frost go for gold in the RSA Chase, while Cause of Causes will attempt to maintain his excellent Festival form in the Cross Country Chase.
We’ve got previews for all of those races and more in today’s Cheltenham tips …
1:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Samcro
Samcro is unbeaten in seven career starts and looks set to extend that record in the Ballymore. He landed his first Grade 1 in impressive style last time out and conforms to all of the key form trends we expect from a winner of this race.
Gordon Elliott’s charge has everything in his favour and should be able to justify favouritism after a succession of impressive length victories in Ireland. Next Destination, fourth in last year’s Champion Bumper, provides the main danger.
2:10 RSA Chase – Black Corton
There are chances right through the field in this year’s RSA Chase. But it’s the relationship between Bryony Frost and Black Corton that gets the nod from us.
The pair have combined for seven wins in eight runs since partnering up at Worcester last July, including in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton in December.
Frost knows how to get the best out of this tough customer and the pair are sure to enjoy the testing conditions afforded to them in the RSA.
Black Corton isn’t without Cheltenham form, either. The seven-year-old has won twice already at the course this season. In a tough field, it’s Paul Nicholls’ charge who can get the job done.
2:50 Coral Cup – William Henry (Lively Longshot)
A maximum field of 26 will line-up for Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, where William Henry is fancied to continue his good Cheltenham form.
Nicky Henderson’s runner has won once and been runner-up at the course in three starts. He tends to do most of his best work among big fields, as proven by his 3/4l victory in the Lanzarote Hurdle last time out.
The son of King’s Theatre runs well fresh and should appreciate the 59-day break ahead of the 2m 5f contest on heavy ground this afternoon. Jockey James Bowen claims 3lb.
3:30 Queen Mother Champion Chase – Altior (NAP)
Altior has never lost over jumps. Henderson’s charge is unbeaten in all 12 starts and showed his class last month to return from a 287-day break to land the Game Spirit Chase ahead of Politologue.
He’s won three times before at the Festival and also boasts comprehensive successes over a number of his opponents this afternoon. In short, it’s difficult to see this wonder horse getting beat. Heavy ground specialist Min provides the main danger.
4:10 Cross Country Chase – Cause of Causes (NB)
This horse is a Festival specialist. Cause of Causes has won at the meeting in each of the last four years and is going for back-to-back successes in the Cross Country Chase this time around.
Gordon Elliott’s runner saves his best form for the Gloucestershire course. It wouldn’t be a surprise in the slightest if the 10-year-old handles the lengthy trip once again under experienced amateur Jamie Codd.
The trainer’s other runner, Tiger Roll, also has chances.
4:50 Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle – Act of Valour
The key to this race could be the record of trainer Paul Nicholls. The Englishman has saddled three winners and six placed horses from 17 runners in the Fred Winter over the last decade. That makes Act of Valour the one to watch this time around.
The four-year-old returned to form with a handy second place in a Listed contested at Musselburgh last time out and should go well off a mark of 136. Dan Skelton’s impressive raider Nube Negra is the main danger.
5:30 Champion Bumper – Acey Milan
The last three winners of this race have been 10/1 or shorter. So it should pay to look towards the front of the market. That could mean a second win at Cheltenham on heavy ground for Acey Milan.
Trainer Anthony Honeyball has been in excellent form this year and will fancy his chances in a race that has produced four first-time winners in the last four years.
Acey Milan gets a handy weight allowance as a four-year-old and can also boast back-to-back wins in Listed company as he bids for the four-timer.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.