Expert Cheltenham 2014 tips for Wednesday 12th March and race preview for every race shown live on Channel 4 for day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival starting from 1.30pm.
After the excitement of yesterday it's onto day 2 of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival where the 2m chasers take centre stage in the Champion Chase.
1.30pm Neptune Novices' Hurdle Betting Tip
We kick off the coverage with the Neptune Hurdle over 2m5f where fancies from both sides of the Irish Sea do battle once more.
Ballyalton (14/1 BetVictor) has the ground coming in his favour. He has a bit to find with the principals on his winning form at Newcastle and here at Cheltenham this season but good ground would suit far better than the soft last time and he lacks nothing in a finish.
FAUGHEEN (9/4 William Hill) is the main Irish hope, Willie Mullins horse having been barely extended to win all three of his starts over obstacles this season. It's questionable exactly what he has beaten in any of those contests but he can only win against the opposition that is put in front of him and he has done so with consummate ease. Trip and ground seem immaterial to him and he looks a horse with a bright future.
The biggest English hope comes from the David Pipe yard in the form of Red Sherlock (4/1 Stan James). It is hard to imagine a more emotional winner than him this week, eight months after the death of one of racings best loved owners, David Johnson and bred from one of his all time favourite mares, Lady Cricket, it oozes Hollywood storylines. Unbeaten in six career starts including three over hurdles he looks destined to take high order. His jumping hasn't always been fluent but the guts he showed battling well up this famous hill to deny Rathvinden who reopposes here in January will stand him in good stead.
Royal Boy (7/1 Coral) took the step down in trip in his stride when he won the Tolworth at Kempton in January but this distance looks more suitable for him. The quicker ground is a bit of a concern but Grade 1 form in the book means he should find himself involved in the finish.
At a monumental price, CREEPY (100/1 Stan James), back on good ground could run a massive race. He is a Grade 2 winner over C&D on good ground and with the first time hood to keep him relaxed he is worth a tickle.
Novices' Hurdle Betting Tip – FAUGHEEN (WIN) (9/4 William Hill)
CREEPY (E/W) (100/1 Stan James)
2.05pm RSA Novices' Chase Betting Tip
The RSA Chase is always a tricky race to sum up, most novice chases are run at a steadier pace and put less emphasis on jumping than this test does.
Annacotty (20/1 Ladbrokes) is better than the price suggests staying on to good effect over shorter here last time having won the Feltham at Kempton over Christmas. Blinkers have been the making of him and he could prove very dangerous to the principals.
Ballycasey (11/2 BetVictor) looks to be the main hope for the Irish, coming here unbeaten in two starts over fences. He was made to dig deep at Leoparstown last month to see off Don Cossack while Carlingford Lock unseated at the final fence. He followed up that effort with a tumble himself in a schooling session so confidence might not be a high going into this race as connections would like.
Don Cossack (12/1 bet365) was sent off even money favourite in that race and this step up in trip will suit him, he could prove to be the forgotten one of the Irish raiding party.
Corrin Wood (9/1 Stan James) is unbeaten over fences so far, making all last time to see off the persistent challenge of Black Thunder. He is a game front runner and bold jumper so it will be very interesting to see if he can get his main rivals making mistakes in behind early on.
SMAD PLACE (13/2 Coral) has already proven himself top class over hurdles finishing third in the past two editions of the World Hurdle. He has been a little below his hurdles best so far over fences but having beaten a couple of useful yardsticks that might just be good enough here.
RSA Novices' Tip – SMAD PLACE (WIN) (13/2 Coral)
2.40pm Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Betting Tip
Today's pinprick handicap comes in the form of the Coral Cup where a couple against the field is probably the way forward.
Lots of talent at the top of the weights with Dunguib (12/1 Coral), Whisper (16/1 bet365) and Miester Eckhart (16/1 Betfred) but it's hard to believe that any of these are well enough handicapped to play more than a minor role.
Smashing (25/1 BetVictor) ran well enough at Newbury, plugging on at the one pace to suggest a return to this sort of trip would be in his favour. The stables Indevan (25/1 William Hill) is also very interesting as he will find underfoot conditions very much in his favour and appears to have been waited with for this better ground.
CLONDAW KAEMPFER (12/1 Coral) looks laid out for the race by shrewd connections having not been seen since Aintree in December. The way he finished that day would suggest a strong pace and a stiff finish will play into his hands.
BAYAN (12/1 BetVictor) is another who appears to have been keeping his powder dry for shrewd connections, waiting for better ground. He is quirky, but a strong pace will give him a tow into the race and allow him to be produced at the last second.
Coral Cup Tip – BAYAN (E/W) (12/1 BetVictor)
– CLONDAW KAEMPFER (E/W) (12/1 Coral)
3.20pm Queen Mother Champion Chase Betting Tip
The days feature is the Champion Chase at 3.20, lacking its star in Sprinter Sacre but is a more open race as a consequence.
Arvika Ligeonniere (7/1 bet365) is a machine going right handed but concerns going this way round have been well touted. He was pulled up in the Arkle here last season and those concerns outweigh the positives.
CAPTAIN CONAN (5/1 Betfred) is left to represent Nicky Henderson after Sprinter Sacre's defection. The stable were under a massive cloud when he ran way below par in the Tingle Creek and is likely to strip much fitter here. He has a victory over Sire De Grugy at Cheltenham and can prove victorious again.
Sire De Grugy (11/4 BetVictor) is justifiably the favourite on what he has accomplished this season boasting Grade 1 victories in the Tingle Creek and the Clarence House chase. My concern with the horse has always been that he is better right handed. 4 victories out of 11 starts going left-handed (3 wins at odds-on at Fakenham, Lingfield and Stratford) as opposed to 8 victories out of 12 starts right handed.
He has tasted defeat on both starts here at Cheltenham as well as both runs in the spring festival at Aintree which raises a major flag to me. He deserves to be favourite on the formbook but he looks opposable under current conditions with ever drying ground unlikely to prove ideal.
SIZING EUROPE (14/1 bet365) is now 12 but with conditions in his favour for the first time since October he is interesting in a wide open renewal. He looks past his prime but as a previous race victor he is overpriced with first time cheekpieces interesting.
Queen Mother Champion Chase Tip – CAPTAIN CONAN (WIN) (5/1 Betfred)
– SIZING EUROPE (E/W) (14/1 bet365)
4.00pm Gelnfarclas Handicap Chase Betting Tip
Balthazar King (6/1 William Hill) is a standing dish in these races, winning over C&D in November as well as victorious in this contest in 2012. Despite having to give weight away all round is in the form of his life.
The murmurs coming over from Ireland are that BIG SHU (4/1 Stan James) is in rude health and more than ready to defend his crown from last year. His only run this season over a trip too short at Punchestown was very promising and he is primed to win this again.
Love Rory (9/1 bet365) won that Punchestown race and is very much the young pretender. At the age of six he may be a little young for this kind of test especially off a mark this high but shapes as a future winner of the race.
Sire Collonges (10/1 Coral) is a C&D winner in a handicap but is probably too high up the weights now to be more than a place chance.
At a big price Hey Big Spender (33/1 Betfred) is interesting. He doesn't look in love with the game all the time so this course with its unique fences could be the spark he requires to get back to top form.
Glenfarclas Betting Tip – BIG SHU (WIN) (4/1 Stan James)
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