Ed Quigley kicked off Cheltenham in style with a big priced 11/1 winner in Corach Rambler, a horse who was produced late to win the Ultima Handicap Chase by Derek Fox.
Now we move onto day two, with Ed’s fancies on the card.
The Ballymore looks all about SIR GERHARD, but the price has shrunk now. If the rain gets in the ground it might make it more of a stamina test than he would want, but which of the others turns him over who knows. With rain on the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if THREE STRIPES LIFE followed him home – he could be one for each-way/forecast players.
I think BRAVEMANSGAME has the tools to blow away the opposition in the Brown Advisory; he is electric over fences and oozed class and charisma in everything he has achieved over fences so far. He is the one I think they all have to beat, and can give Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden a Grade 1 winner.
Providing the ground doesn’t turn too soft, I think CAMPROND looks a cracking each-way bet in the Coral Cup. Kept deliberately fresh for this, he is a well seasoned individual, but I think he has the scope to be better than a mark of 140. The return to this trip will suit, and has winning course form. Last seen finishing fourth in the Greatwood Hurdle – a race that has worked out an absolute treat, I think he will be nicely smuggled into contention here with Aidan Coleman in the saddle.
The Champion Chase is the race of the week, and I think SHISKIN has everything in his favour to get the job done. I think he will see off the Irish challenge, and any rain that arrives won’t bother him. I think the Dan Skelton trained Nube Negra is most likely to follow him home – his record fresh is excellent and wasn’t beaten far in this race 12 months ago, so Nube Negra looks to be the each-way angle in the big one. What a race we have in store!
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It is a case of two versus the field for me in the Grand Annual, where I think BUDDY RICH is the one to beat. I am backing Davy Russell to get his mount into the contest, from coming off a strong pace. There are very few jockeys who ride Cheltenham as well as Russell does, and the duo look set for a big run. ELIXIR DE NUTZ is the Colin Tizzard ‘second string’ but is no back number He arrives here on a hattrick, and off 143 still looks well treated on the pick of his hurdling form. He is 10lb lower over fences than his peak hurdles mark, has plenty of strong course form to shout about.
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* Cheltenham betting odds correct at the time of publication. Odds subject to change.