Cheltenham is off to a great start with normal service resumed as Willie Mullins took the opening two races.
It was also a red letter day for Gavin Cromwell who took the Champion Hurdle with Espoir D’Allen. I was very impressed with how he travelled throughout and he may have won even if Buveur D’air had stood up.
I have studied Day 2 of the festival in great detail and you can read my thoughts below:
I think this looks a better race than the Supreme and to be fair Nicky’s horse didn’t get his name for no reason. People are knocking the form of his Challow Hurdle win and yes I know Getaway Trump was disappointing on his last time but all of Paul’s ran poorly that day up at Kelso.
Champ is on a real upward curve and he looks the most likely winner for me.
Whenever I hear Paul talking about Topofthegame he has been very keen on him on each occasion. He finished close second behind Bleu Berry in Coral Cup last season and has run well in defeat on both starts this season. The second of these runs came in the grade 1 at Kempton behind La Bague Au Roi which I think is very decent form.
If Paul talks so highly of him then he must be a serious horse and the one I will side with.
Any number of these could have a live chance of taking home the Coral Cup, and I think Willie’s now veteran Wicklow Brave has as good a chance as any.
The top-weight is already a festival winner after taking the county hurdle back 2015. I thought he showed plenty of sparkle finishing second in behind Espoir D’allen at Naas last time and I wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick partners him to another victory here.
I don’t there is much point in wasting time on this race it’s all about Altior who is a class apart from any of his rivals here and barring an accident will make it lucky number 13 over fences.
He’s a special racehorse and I don’t we know how good he is.
Obviously Tiger Roll is the stand out performer here, having been a very impressive winner at Navan last month. He’ll prove very difficult to beat but from the outsiders I quite like the look of Ultragold.
I don’t think you have to stay that well to win a cross country race. He’s got the cruising speed to win the Topham and if he takes to the course he could be a good bit better than a lot of these horses.
The irish Juvenile hurdlers have looked much superior to the british counterparts this season.
The best of the irish raiding party would appear to be Joseph O’Brien trained Band of Outlaws, I thought he looked very provisional when winning at Naas the last day and it an open looking event I take a chance on him.
Meticulous was a nice winner on debut in Killarney and ran well on both starts at Leopardstown including when runner up to the very smart looking Envoi Allen.
A reproduction of that run will see him go close here and he is out of the very good race mare Refinement who finished runner up to my own Whiteoak in the first running of the mares hurdle.
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