Charlie McCann kicked off the Cheltenham Festival in style, with excellent results on the first day. His NAP selection was Edwardstone, winning at 11/4, while he also tipped Constitution Hill to win in the first race, also at 11/4.
That’s not all, as place returns were added by Gericault Roque (12/1) and Queens Brook (4/1) to round of proceedings on day one.
His NAP winner Edwardstone was his fourth NAP winner in a row, Charlie is on fire right now, and here are his selections for day two of the festival.
Shiskin to land the Day 2 Nap
There are showers forecast for Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival but on Tuesday morning clerk of the course Jon Pullin announced that the rain would amount to just one or two millimetres which should not affect the ground given as good to soft on Tuesday morning.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
The unbeaten Journey With Me showed a willing attitude when maintaining his unbeaten record at Naas last month for Henry De Bromhead and he would certainly appreciate any rain that hits the track.
Sir Gerhard was a late defector from yesterday’s Supreme to wait for today’s longer race and last year’s Champion Bumper winner is difficult to oppose. Unbeaten in two starts over hurdles at the minimum trip he promises to be at least as effective over this additional distance although there are mixed messages from his breeding. At a best price of 8/11 I will look for an each way alternative.
Three Stripe Life (1.30) has twice finished behind the favourite but would have finished closer to the Mullins trained favourite at Leopardstown last time had he not blundered at the last. He has plenty of stamina in his pedigree and the 5/2 with bet365 in the market without the favourite looks fair.
Recommendation: Three Stripe Life 1.30 in market without Sir Gerhard at 5/2
Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase
Galopin Des Champs would have been a confident selection in the race, but he waits in the wings to take on Bob Olinger tomorrow. His absence makes it a fascinating race
Bravemansgame is the best horse and most fluent jumper in the field, but he struggled to get up the hill in the Ballymore here last year when he was swotted away like a fly by the brilliant Bob Olinger. He has looked imperious over fences to date, but I just wonder when push comes to shove will he have the stamina to go with his undoubted talent.
Farouk D’Alene (2.10) is not yet the finished article over fences but he will appreciate any of the forecast rain and can confirm recent Naas form with Beacon Edge despite being 7lb worse off with the Noel Meade horse. The EW recommendation beat Vanillier over hurdles and went down by just over a length to Stattler – runs in the last on Tuesday – at Naas on decent ground at the end of January.
Ahoy Senor is 1-1 with Bravemansgame in their head-to-head and I think this track will suit the Scottish raider more so than was the case at Kempton on Boxing Day when he was no match for the Paul Nicholls runner. He was back to his best at Wetherby in the G2 Tow ton Novice Chase last time, but I wonder if his jumping – which can be electric at times – will pass this stiff test. If he does, he is a major player.
Recommendation: Farouk D’Alene 2.10 at 20/1 EW with bet365 4 places
2.50 Coral Cup
It doesn’t look as if our antepasts selection Good Risk At All (8/1 NRNB) will get a run in the Coral Cup as he failed to make the cut by one for the 24-runner field. At the time of writing, he is first reserve but only has until 1pm on Tuesday to be confirmed for this valuable prize. If he doesn’t get a run, he will be declared for the concluding race of the meeting on Friday the Martin Pipe conditional jockey’s event.
Comprond (2.50) was also recommended as an each way selection for the contest but he is one that would not appreciate the forecast rain for Wednesday. Indeed, his trainer Philip Hobbs suggested he would be taken out of the race and wait for Friday if the rains arrived when interviewed on Racing TV on Monday. He was, however, confident of a big run from the horse granted a sound surface which was reassuring and as stated earlier the forecast for Wednesday suggests the rain will not be significant.
Irish raider Saint Felicien will head the market in the likely defection of Good Risk At All, but I was disappointed with his finishing effort in the BetVictor Limestone Lad Hurdle last time and I’m not as convinced he will appreciate the step up in trip as others.
I do think McFabulous (2.50) could be well handicapped for Paul Nicholls and this intermediate 2m 5f trip is ideal. He is a slightly better horse going right-handed but good ground suits and he is lightly raced so far this season with just the two starts this term. He has never won at Cheltenham, but he has run well enough in defeat, and he gets the each way vote.
Recommendation: McFabulous 2.50 Coral Cup 18/1 EW at Betfred 7 places
Already advised: Comprond 16/1 now 9/1 Bet365 7 places
I do feel the unbeaten Shishkin (3.30) will need further than the minimum trip sooner rather than later and if I were Paul Townend, I wouldn’t make it an end-to-end gallop aboard Energumene as it was just Shishkin’s stamina that won the day in the epic Clarence House Chase over slightly further at Ascot last time.
It is likely that Chacun Pour Soi – stablemate of Energumene – will be ridden more prominently than was the case in the corresponding race 12 months ago when he was a beaten odds on favourite. He does not seem quite the same horse this side of the Irish Sea, however.
Shishkin is proven at Cheltenham, will appreciate going back to a left-handed track and we know he will be finishing best of all. He cannot be opposed although I maintain that I would like to see him step up in trip to two-and-a-half miles in the Martell Cup at Aintree next month.
Nube Negra has a cracking record fresh, but I do feel his best chance of winning the race was 12 months ago in what was a below par renewal. Shishkin was magnificent in the Arkle 12 months ago and even better in the Supreme Novice Hurdle of 2020. He cannot be opposed.
Recommendation: Shishkin 3.30 at Evens with William Hill
Cross Country Chase
The X-Country Chase would not be my favourite race of the week, but it would be great to see Tiger Roll (4.10) win for a sixth time at the Cheltenham Festival and a fourth success in this corresponding race. This is obviously his time of the year, and this better ground clearly suits.
The 2020 winner Easysland was no match for Tiger Roll last year and has not been at his best so far this term and a bigger danger might be the favourite’s stablemate Death Duty – still only nine – who was only beaten 6L in the 2020 Gold Cup behind Al Boum Photo. If he takes to this new discipline, he will be a tough nut to crack but Tiger Roll gets the vote to raise the Cheltenham roof.
Recommendation: Tiger Roll 7/4 with William Hill
Grand Annual Handicap Chase
I was surprised to see Red Rookie bypass the race and take in the Grade 1 Arkle on the opening day, but no harm done as he was recommended NRNB.
Three of Colin Tizzard’s last five runners have pulled up, but they did have a winner in the middle and that is symbolic of the yard’s form this season. Two horses who have kept their form throughout the campaign, however, are Amarillo Sky and Elixir De Nutz and the former, who I am loath to desert, has done us a couple of favours already this term.
Paul Nicholls also saddles a couple and Thyme White (4.50) has been kept fresh for the race since winning at Doncaster in December under Bryony Frost. The selection is 7lbs better off with Amarillo Sky on Wincanton running earlier in the season and he has a good record fresh.
The EW recommendation has not won in a big field and lacks chase experience, but I do like unexposed novices in the race and Nicholls looks to have targeted this race for his 6-y-old.
Recommendation: Thyme White 4.50 EW 10/1 5 places at William Hill or 9/1 6 places at Betfred & Bet365
Gordon Elliot and Willie Mullins have won this corresponding race for the last five years and the two Irish superpowers go head-to-head in this Grade 1 contest, and I hope to see Facile Vega (5.30) give Mullins a record 12th win in the race.
Out of the brilliant mare Quevega the selection looked a class act when winning the Goffs Future Stars by 12L at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival last time and he can fend off Elliot’s unbeaten American Mike who was also visually very impressive at Navan back in December.
Recommendation: Facile Vega 5.30 at 6/4 with William Hill