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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 25 March, 2019
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Like the course officials at Prestbury Park, we had an early morning inspection and we’re good to go too for Day 2. 

After yesterday’s hugely dramatic afternoon, today looks like — in theory — a less surprising day. 

Who do you fancy then? 

Stephen Ward is taking in the action today. As is a certain Grand Slam-chasing Wales coach.  

Stephen Ward Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Rob Howley and Warren Gatland Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Altior looks unbackable in today’s feature race. The Nicky Henderson-trained runner is the overwhelming favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

This is how confident The42 readers are:

altior

The first of the day is the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 1030.pm. There’s lot of support for 9-2 Battleoverdoyen, under Jack Kennedy, as Gordon Elliott will hope to get off the mark. 

AP McCoy will be a particularly interested spectator however; as Thom Malon writes: 

He was a 20-time champion jockey, in fairness, he earned the nickname. Sir Anthony, as he can now be called, was synonymous with the green and gold JP McManus silks. On Wednesday the horse, Champ, named in honour of the great man is near the top of the market for the Ballymore Hurdle. Sometimes little should be read into a horse’s name. This appears not to be the case here.

AP famously said of his employer, “JP has a plan for every horse”. The same man had a plan for Limerick hurling, and that worked out ok.

The horse has done little wrong thus far, winning his last four starts. In the opener on Wednesday, he faces his stiffest task to date. Champ the jockey was renowned for his strength in adversity, how heavy will the expectation of the moniker weigh on the horse Champ?”

And we’re away in the first of the day! 

Phew! Apologies for some technical disruption at a crucial time. 

In the meantime, Mark Walsh has steered City Island to the win ahead of Champ. It’s Walsh’s second win so far of the Festival. 

That’s a fifth winner of the week for Ireland by my count. Trainer Martin Brassil chats to ITV; it’s his first Festival victory.  

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Ballymore Novices' Hurdle result

1. City Island (M P Walsh) 8-1 

2. Champ (B Geraghty) 9-2 

3. Bright Forecast (Nico de Boinville) 25-1 

It’s the RSA Novice Chase next up at 2.30.  We got Katie Walsh’s tips earlier in the week and she had a fancy for one runner in this renewal. 

“I’m a big fan of Delta Work (15/8) in the RSA Chase, he deserves to be a short price favourite. He’s not flashy, he just sticks his neck out and tries. He gets it done. He beat Le Richebourg earlier in the season and that form is all tying together nicely.”

AP McCoy just spoke really, really strongly on the BHA decision yesterday to ban three rider who were deemed to have “continued in the race when it appeared to be contrary to the horse’s welfare” after the National hunt Chase. ‘It’s indefensible’ he insisted and questioned why an Australian was making the decision. 

We’re almost ready for the line and Delta Work, under Davy Russell, is looking pretty relaxed, we’re told. 

He heads the market at 9-4, the Nicky Henderson-trained Santini is second favourite at 3-1, while Topofthegame is 7-2.   

There’s a bit of pressure on the Russell-Elliott combination to work their magic here. 

And they’re off with little bother. 

Top Ville Ben is down but both horse and jockey, Sean Quinlan, look fine.

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Topofthegame jumps like a stag on the last to put himself in front ahead of Santini and storms home for a Paul Nichols win.

Jockey Harry Cobden says this could be the start for this horse.

RSA Novices’ Chase result

1. Topofthegame (H Cobden) 4-1 

2. Santini (Nico de Boinville) 3-1

3. Delta Work (D N Russell) 15-8 Fav 

 

Willie Mullins has half a dozen rider going off in the next race, the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle; Russell and Elliott will go again with Farclas meanwhile. 

Paul Nicholls is back in the winners’ enclosure at Cheltenham thanks to Topofthegame and he’s not exactly talking him down. “There were shades of Denman there. We’ve always thought a lot about it. He’s got it all, he’s got pace, he’s got the jumping. He was unlucky as Exeter but was that the making of him?

“He travelled too well at Kempton but perfectly today. He’s rated the same as Denman and he’s only going to get better. That was a cool, first-class ride from Harry. His 99th win of the season.” Via BBC

Chris Kamara Unbelievable, Jeff: Chris Kamara takes a snap with a racegoer. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

And we’re off in the 2.50pm! 

Monbeg Theatre is leading the way with four to jump… 

Wicklow Brave’s in front at the last… 

What a finish! I think William Henry won it by a nose from Wicklow Brave! 

William Henry gets the win at 28-1! 

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Coral Cup result

1. William Henry (Nico de Boinville) 28-1

2. Wicklow Brave (Mr Patrick Mullins) 28-1

3. Ballyandy (Sam Twiston-Davies) 14-1

4. Brio Conti (Harry Cobden) 10-1

Patrick Mullins on Wicklow Brave sportingly congratulates Nico de Boinville, William Henry’s jockey. 

So it’s the big one next up with Altior as close to a dead cert as you can get in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Brian Sheerin of the Racing Post writes:

“The winning machine that is Altior has a record in his sights as he seeks to continue his ruthless domination of the two-mile chasing division by posting his fourth consecutive success at the Cheltenham Festival in today’s feature Queen Mother Champion Chase.

“After victories in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Racing Post Arkle, Altior last year devoured the Cheltenham hill once more to defeat Min in this race.

If he can now retain that title his unbeaten run will be extended to 18 races, the jumping world record held by Big Buck’s.

“It was a Tuesday to forget for Gordon Elliott with the leading trainer at the previous two festivals drawing a blank on the opening day, but better can be expected on Wednesday, with horses like Delta Work to look forward to.

“As a festival winner unbeaten over fences, it is not hard to see why Delta Work heads the market for the RSA Novices Chase, and he’ll be ridden by Davy Russell.
Elliott also has strong claims in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle with Battleoverdoyen while Tiger Roll will be bidding to win back-to-back Glenfarclas Cross Country Chases under Keith Donoghue.”

One of our tipsters Thom Malone looks ahead to Altior’s record-breaking opportunity.

“Altior is looking to break the record for consecutive wins over obstacles. He holds it jointly with Big Bucks with a scarcely credible 17 victories in a row. He has turned up at the last three festivals and won by seven lengths in the Supreme, six lengths in the Arkle and seven lengths in last year’s Champion Chase. He is a phenom and there is little to no reason why he won’t win again. Min is the second-best horse in the race, and has finished second anytime he has come up against Altior.

There’s no reason he can flip that form, nothing else is even close. Altior is odds-on, arguably not that short, given his record. Frankel was dossing around the place at 1/20 at a similar stage in his career. After Altior wins on Wednesday, and he will win, debates will rage as to where next for this superstar. Enjoy those debates and enjoy this horse, a true champion.”

Brian Gleeson reports that one punter has put a hundred grand on Altior to win £40,000. 

And they’re off! 

Four to jump, Altior’s in second behind Saint Calvados.

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Altior had to win ugly after a dodgy last fence but he powered home in the end! 

‘He found it hard work but what an absolute monster,’ says jockey, Nico de Boinville, ‘I think we should just celebrate him.’ 

Queen Mother Champion Chase result

1. Altior Nico de Boinville 4-11  

2. Politologue H Cobden 11-1

3. Sceau Royal D A Jacob 16-1

 

Trainer of Altior, Nicky Henderson looks emotional as he chats to reporters: ”He had to have a little fight but he made it exciting for everybody; including myself!

“I think he was getting a little lonely but as soon as Nico said go he was off. It was a cracking good race for everybody; for me it was hell.

“He can do anything; Saint Calvados went a good gallop which helped us. Altior made one mistake at the water but that was about it. We’re incredibly lucky to have a horse like this. To have had two horses consecutively in your life like these two (Sprinter Sacre as well) is incredible.”

[via Five Live]

It’s the Cross Country Chase up next at 4.10. 

“Tiger Roll should be the most famous horse in training,” writes Thom Malone, “He’s seeking victory at a fourth Cheltenham Festival when he attempts to defend his Cross-Country crown on Wednesday.

“He’s favourite to become the first horse since Red Rum to win back to back Grand Nationals at Aintree. He will not be revered like an Altior, but his achievements are impressive if unorthodox. After he won the two-mile Triumph Hurdle in 2014, he only won once in his next 11 starts.

“He was then switched to fences and a further 11 starts later he won at the Festival again, this time over four miles. Some argue that the real skill of training a horse is concealing his true ability; Tiger Roll looked to be thoroughly exposed. It had taken him 25 races to begin to show his true ability. Hardly the form profile to suggest the Tiger was a star in the making. Since that win at the 2017 festival, Gordon Elliot’s little star has earned a lighter workload, with considerable success. There have only been eight starts since that 2017 win, he’s won half of them, including the biggest race of them all at Aintree. On Wednesday the little Tiger can continue to Roll his own way.”

Someone’s just won a Mini on the ITV coverage but Ed Chamberlain is trying to reverse the decision. 

They’re off in the always fun Cross Country Chase. 

Tea For Two has unseated Lizzie Kelly, 11 to jump. 

Tiger Roll is steaming home! 

Tiger Roll seals a hugely-impressive victory! 

Gordon Elliott looks hugely relieved after that. We’re having a tough week he admitted, but Tiger Roll is a ‘legend’. 

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Cross Country result

1 Tiger Roll (K M Donoghue) 5-4

2 Josies Orders (M P Walsh) 15-2

3 Urgent De Gregaine (Felix de Giles) 17-2 

The TV coverage may be over but we’ve two more races to round out the day, as always. 

Next is the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at 4.50pm. Check out the runners and riders here. 

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Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle result

1 Band of Outlaws (J J Slevin) 7-2 Fav 

2 Coko Beach (J W Kennedy) 14-1

3 Ciel De Neige (R Walsh) 17-2

4 King D’Argent (Harry Skelton) 25-1 

It’s a winner for young Jospeh O’Brien in the second last of the day with the 7-2 favourite.  It’s his first Festival win. 

And Gordon Elliott’s favourite gets the job don with JJ Codd. The trainer will be a lot happier this evening. 

Thanks a lot for your company throughout another busy day of racing. We’ll be back tomorrow for St Patrick’s Thursday… 

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