Ladies Day (Wednesday March 16): an enjoyable one for so many reasons. The main one – of course – is the feast of racing on offer, with two standout features backed by a mouth-watering undercard.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase looks as competitive as it’s ever been, while the RSA Chase looks set to be scrapped for by two horses with undoubted potential.
Let’s see if we can find some winners, eh?
Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (1:30pm)
More than 25 horses are expected to participate in this curtain raiser to Ladies Day, and that could cause plenty of chaos in, around and over the hurdles.
Yanworth is the heavy favourite about the even money mark, although much of the money has been spent on Yorkhill, who has traded in to 5/2.
For Yanworth, a win over this 20f stretch in January will have been a great reassurance, and four wins on the spin since the tail end of 2015 ensures that punters can have plenty of confidence in a horse piloted by the ever reliable Barry Geraghty.
Yorkhill, another of the Willie Mullins charges expected to go well, has also won four of four including a heavy old battle over 20f in December.
The RSA Chase (2:10pm)
Another seemingly two-horse race could unfold in the RSA Chase, where the 9/4 favourite More of That will hope to hold off the challenge of the 5/2 hope No More Heroes.
The former boasts a fine record of seven wins from eight outings, with four of those victories coming on this hallowed (and undulating) festival turf. Having taken the World Hurdle crown back in 2014, we don’t need to worry about this horse being spooked by the Cheltenham roar.
Winning streaks seem a theme of the festival, with No More Heroes boasting a perfect trio of outings. One of the biggest blemishes on his record came at Cheltenham last year, where a third place finish in the Novices’ Hurdle was not exactly an eye-catching example of what was to come.
Just two wins from six at Cheltenham – including a fall and a pulled up – may put people off Blaklion (9/1), and one of those defeats came at the hands of Seeyouatmidnight (12/1), who looks an enticing proposition having finished in the money places in eleven of twelve starts.
Queen Mother Champion Chase (3:30pm)
What a fantastic renewal the standout feature of Ladies Day should provide. Here’s a race in which there are four or five potential winners, with the favourite Un De Sceaux (4/5) looking a real powerhouse in the Clarence House Chase, which is often a real marker of Cheltenham success. The runner-up that day, Sire De Grugy (16/1), has a hope but has been beaten by four of the horses in this field at one point or another.
Reigning champion Dodging Bullets (12/1) will be hoping to defend his crown, although a heart-warming tale of redemption could be the victory of Sprinter Sacre (5/1), who has overcome heart problems to be here. He was the favourite in this race last year but was pulled up, but a return of two wins since his comeback – one at Cheltenham in November – is impressive.
Weatherbys Champion Bumper (5:10pm)
Bringing the curtain down on Ladies Day is the Champion Bumper, which looks an exciting proposition for punters with a pair of 6/1 favourites offering plenty of value.
Ballyandy has three wins from four starts and has enjoyed success on all types of ground – including at Cheltenham on soft in November, while Augusta Kate will no doubt take money as her trainer, that man Mullins again, has won this race on eight occasions.
All in all, Irish horses – either by birth or by yard, have won this renewal in 17/23, so perhaps it is the latter who should be grabbing our attention.