If Cheltenham Festival Day Two is half as good as Day One then Racing fans are in for a great treat. Day One saw Hurricane Fly crowned as Champion Hurdler, Al Ferof as the Supreme Novice, a hat trick of wins for the ‘miracle man’ Ruby Walsh, who has only just returned to racing following a broken leg. Day One also saw three wins for Ireland and four for the UK, with Willie Mullins taking the lead in the top trainer battle with two winners.
The big battle on Day Two of course takes place in the Queen Mother Champion Chase when reigning champion Big Zeb from Ireland takes on the 2008 and 2009 champion Master Minded from the UK. There are several other huge races that will also capture the imagination and flavour the Festival with battles aplenty between the home horses and those who have come from ‘across the water’. First race on Day Two goes off at 1.30
141st Year of NH Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders ‘Novice Chase) – 1.30
Big chances in this race for Ireland with Alfa Beat and Chicago Grey heading the betting plus there is also a very well fancied Willie Mullins horse, Some Target entered. Best chance for the home team would seem to lie with the Tim Vaughan trained Beshabar.
The favourite to win this is yet another from the Willie Mullins stable, So Young, who comes to the race unbeaten in his last four starts, he has a growing reputation and his chances are increased hugely by having Ruby Walsh in the pilot’s seat. His biggest rivals are also trained in Ireland, Oscars Well from the Jessica Harrington yard and First Lieutenant trained by Mouse Morris. Best of those from the UK would be Minella Class from the Nicky Henderson stable, but do not discount the chances Rock On Ruby trained by Paul Nicholls who would be somewhat of an ironic winner should he get home in front.
This has the potential of being a cracking race with hot favourite Time For Rupert looking for his seasonal hat trick. Against him are a number with big chances, including Aiteen Thirtythree, Jessies Dream, Wayward Prince and Wymott. There is also Mikael D’Haguenet, representing the Mullins/Walsh combination.
This is the feature race of the day which will decide which horse is the two mile chasing champion of the UK and Ireland. Will it be Big Zeb, winner last year for Ireland or dual winner and favourite, Master Minded for England?
Perhaps it will be neither as this year the race has arguably attracted its best field for several years. Others being backed for instance include 2010 Arkle Trophy winner, Sizing Europe, the Jessica Harrington trained, Somersby, who came so close to beating Master Minded last time out, and the Paul Nicholls second entry Woolcombe Abbey. Whatever should happen the 11 runner field will provide a compelling spectacle and the biggest UK v Ireland race of the day.
Coral Cup – 4.00
This is the first of the big handicap hurdles of the festival and will attract plenty of betting activity. The winner should come from the top three in the betting, Aegean Dawn, Call The Police and For Non Stop although there is plenty of positive vibes surrounding the chances of Bothy from the Brian Ellison stable.
Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – 4.40
One of the most open races of the week let alone the day and a very difficult one to select the winner from. The 6/1 favourite is the Gordon Elliott trained, Plan A, who has shown plenty of consistency in his three runs so far, winning last time out in fine style.
Champion Bumper – 5.15
Day Two concludes with the very popular Champion Bumper a race that is normally the domain of the more experienced Irish entries. That said it was won last year by the English trained, Cue Card and the two market leaders this year is the Warren Greatrex trained, Knight Pass and Ericht from the stable of Nicky Henderson.