The first day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival is in the books. Appreciate It, Shiskin and Honeysuckle all delivered as champions should. The latter once again made a fool of me in justifying strong market confidence. The fastest chasers in the game take centre stage on day two.
1.20 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
A small but competitive field. Bob Olinger, Gaillard Du Mesnil and Bravemansgame have all looked potential stars in recent victories. I struggle to separate them and my betting angle is to back the one currently trading at the biggest price. Bear Ghylls is another who could take a hand if, and it's a big if, his jumping improves.
Selection: Bravemansgame 4-1
1.55 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase
Monkfish continues to improve. He seems more mentally switched on this season and jumps fences for fun. He will relish the stamina test provided here and looks bombproof. Eklat De Rire remains unexposed. He's another who has taken to fences like a duck to water. He can chase Monkfish home at a respectful distance.
Selection: Monkfish 2-5
2.30 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
Connections of Guard Your Dreams may well be pleasantly surprised that he has managed to sneak in at the bottom of the weights. This novice found things happening a bit quickly over two miles in the Betfair Hurdle. It was highly encouraging to see him stick to his task. He finished a running-on sixth. This horse has obvious potential stepping up in trip here. Grand Roi boasts a similar profile to the selection. He's not as obviously well handicapped, but Cullentra House runners must never be underestimated in handicaps at this meeting.
Selection: Guard Your Dreams 11-1
3.05 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase
Chacun Pour Soi was withdrawn from this race at the eleventh hour last season. It's hard to shake the impression that he would have won but for that niggle. He should right that wrong here. If anything, he looks to have improved this season. The opposition is underwhelming. Defending champion Politologue can shake off a slightly below par effort last time and complete the forecast.
Selection: Chacun Pour Soi 5-6
3.40 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase
A race for minimum stakes. Of late, Tiger Roll has looked like a horse who has had enough of the game. Easysland would surely win this with a repeat of last year's effort. His short-priced defeat last time is a nagging concern though. Defi Des Carres can't really win at the weights. He did seem to relish this course in December. In a race where plenty have questions to answer, it wouldn't come as a complete surprise were he to make the frame.
Selection: Defi Des Carres 33-1
4.15 Grand Annual Handicap Chase
Capuccimix was ultimately beaten a fair way in a handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival. He did travel noticeably well for most of that race though. It's possible he's a horse who will always flatter to deceive. At a big price, I can take a chance that he comes alive in a race which should be run to suit. It's not hard to see why the Joseph O'Brien trained novices Entoucas and Embittered are so prominent in the betting.
Selection: Capuccimix 50-1
4.50 Weatherbys Champion Bumper
Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit dominate the betting here. It's about a 4-6 shot that one of them wins. I wouldn't like to be laying that price. I've a slight hunch that Sir Gerhard has the better turn of foot. That could prove decisive.
Selection: Sir Gerhard 9-4