After the high-octane start of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday you might expect some let-up on day 2, but you’d be wrong: this is Ladies Day after all.
There are some mouth-watering renewals on Wednesday, with the Queen Mother Champion Chase the pick of the bunch but no less interesting will be the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, the Coral Cup and the lung-busting RSA Chase.
With the vino flowing in the stands, who will be enjoying the champagne in the winner’s enclosure?
The Wolf of Win Street
One of the undoubted rising stars over the jumps is Neon Wolf, and finally he has a stage here to prove his mettle.
He enjoyed a comfortable enough victory in his last start at Haydock Park, and that extends his win streak to three runs, three victories.
He will take to the Cheltenham turf for the first time in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, and his hopes of securing a maiden victory at Prestbury Park have been greatly enhanced by the withdrawal of Finian’s Oscar.
Now, Neon Wolf is the standout horse in the Neptune field; back him today before those odds of 15/8 tumble.
Tombstone to Put Kiss of Death on Opponents
The interesting thing about Tombstone, who will start the Coral Cup as favourite (currently 5/1), is that he was being primed for a tilt at the Champion Hurdle before his connections decided to opt for this less prestigious renewal, and that is typically a sign that they quite fancy the win.
Tombstone has already showed well at Cheltenham, finishing fourth in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in which he chased the outstanding Altior well for the majority of the contest, and picked up a huge victory in his last outing in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle, where he bested the decent Jezki by four lengths.
The seven-year-old comes from solid Gigginstown House Stud stock, and appears on paper at least to be at an advanced stage of progression compared to the rest of the field.
Acapella Bourgeois Singing the Right Tune
Anybody who witnessed Acapella Bourgeois’ monstrous 32-length win last time out – and he wasn’t even the bookies’ favourite, by the way – can’t help to have been impressed by the rather large set of lungs on this seven-year-old, who was pushed hard from the start but never relented.
That renewal was run on pretty heavy ground too, so the stamina shown was a real fillip for his connections ahead of this Cheltenham trip. These longer jaunts seem to suit him, and in the madcap RSA Chase – which is essentially a mini Grand National – he looks as strong a bet as anybody even at a lofty price.
God’s Own to Gatecrash Champion Chase Party?
There’s no point even trying to deny it: Douvan will win the Queen Mother Champion Chase assuming he isn’t brought down or makes a huge – and so far uncharacteristic – mistake, and so punters are left feeding off the scraps in Wednesday’s big race.
The good news is that there is a nice bit of each way value to enjoy in the Ladies Day showpiece. Tom George’s God’s Own (12/1) has twice run well at Cheltenham in the past – first in finishing second in the Arkle in 2015 to Un De Sceaux, secondly in posting fourth in a high-quality Champion Chase field 12 months ago – and he seems well primed to repeat the trick this year.
God’s Own prefers softer ground, so should be in his element at Prestbury Park, and showed in finishing just a length shy of Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek Chase back in December that he can mix it with the best.
Will he beat Douvan? Probably not, but at 12/1 he could nab a decent payday for a top three finish.