Rob Wright's Cheltenham tips: Altior can triumph on day two

Florence Fletcher
March 15, 2018

The feature race on Day 2 is the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30), and we have an outstanding renewal on our hands with Altior, Douvan and Min all set to go to post.

While Black Op made good headway to break away from the rest, he never looked like catching Samcro and a mistake at the final flight stopped his momentum. It's the first time he has had a race all season (after three easy wins) and that did worry me, I must admit.

He showed here a year ago this track holds no fears for him with a cracking effort when second behind Penhill in the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle, on a surface that was all too quick.

Worldpay has outlined its predictions for this week's Cheltenham Festival, detailing that there could be as much as a 45% surge in online betting activity during the four-day festival, as racing fans seek to beat the bookies.

"I wasn't anxious about the ground for him, lots of other horses would have been suited by better ground". Al Boum Photo likewise. His preparation has been indifferent but it wasn't exactly ideal previous year either before he absolutely bolted up in the Pertemps Final. Even O'Leary and Elliott's Gold Cup-winner Don Cossack didn't conjure the same expectation as this horse.

The scintillating two-mile chaser - unbeaten from seven starts over fences - has always been regarded as the heir apparent to Henderson's Sprinter Sacre.

Rain is a great leveller however and, on the basis the surface will ride soft, or worse, Monalee is the choice to outstay him.

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Gordon Elliott is confident Samcro can live up to expectations by passing his toughest to date in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle today.

Owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, if he meets defeat then many of us, as the Ryanair supremo has pointed out, have been guilty of completely over-hyping the horse. He was certainly classy enough and I hope he can carry that top weight around. Suddenly this was a horse with serious talent. This race is encompasses five hurdles and is open to horses aged five and over. "It was a great race on paper".

The G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase is one of the most thrilling races to watch as the "sprinters" of the steeplechasing world hurtle around one of the most unforgiving courses. Despite him also being the stable's third or fourth string in the race, there's a temptation to take some of the 33/1 ew or indeed 16/1 w/o fav.

He said: "I was concerned after they turned in, but the further up the straight I was going, the happier I was going, and I knew I could let Buveur D'Air pop the last and fill up in the process".

Buveur D'Air has only ever been beaten once in 10 hurdle starts, when third to stablemate Altior in the 2016 Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. A case could be made for many of these but the one I like at a big price is Diamond King.

A little each-way on one of the Mullins inmates, Carefully Selected, might reap a dividend.

"Probably I'd say we'll keep him hurdling next year and I'd imagine he'll go to Punchestown, but he could go to Aintree over two-and-a-half (miles), we'll see".

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