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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 19 December, 2018

This quartet could have you jumping for joy on day two of Cheltenham

Here’s our Lucky-15 for the day two of the 2018 festival.

Altior may be the favourite, but all Irish eyes will be on Douvan.
Altior may be the favourite, but all Irish eyes will be on Douvan.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

WELL, THAT WAS fun wasn’t it?

The best bit? Day Two is almost here and ready for your enjoyment.

In a day headlined by yet another ‘unbeatable’ Gigginstown novice hurdler and the star power of a clash between two of the best two-mile chasers we’ve ever seen, how could you not be excited?

Have a go at this each-way Lucky 15 to grab you some tasty profit ahead of what’s set to be a cracking day’s racing.

1.30pm – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

Paul Townend with Next Destination in the parade ring after the race Will Next Destination's next destination be the winner's enclosure? Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

An Irish raider that travels into races so smoothly it’s untrue, but has yet to come off the bridle. As classy as this son of Germany is, we’ve yet to see what’s really under the hood of Samcro. Given conditions are likely more testing than ideal, he’ll be put to the test today.

On The Blind Side’s withdrawal is a major blow to this race, as he’s hard as nails and that would have been an intriguing run-in up the hill. However, Next Destination is no mug – having already won a Grade One over hurdles. We know he’s battle-hardened, while the campaign to run the favourite over shorter may suggest that he’ll sit off the pace in this.

Vision Des Flos beat major Champion Bumper fancy Hollowgraphic (he’s since been withdrawn) last April and although the form since has been lacking somewhat, he handles conditions well.

Selection: NEXT DESTINATION (7/2)

2.10pm – RSA Chase

David Mullins on board Monalee Monalee will hope for a big run. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

First things first, Presenting Percy should not be the favourite in this race. Had Monalee stood up at Leopardstown over Christmas, he’d comfortably be the market principle here. Of course, barely anyone stood up at Leopardstown over Christmas. The form behind Our Duke should in theory have him well-in here, but I remain unconvinced.

Al Boum Photo‘s run around behind Monalee was exceptionally impressive, given he too was coming off the back of a fall at Limerick. Ruby may have to cleverly guide this mount through the field, but he’ll lack the class of the other two when push comes to shove.

The most interesting contender in here is Black Corton who may be the best jumper of a fence in this field, which is no mean feat. Under Bryony Frost, he’s crept up and up the handicap and never looked like he was under pressure. That run off 155 in the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices´ Chase was particularly impressive.

However, none of these are as talented as Monalee who will battle it out up front. The thing about the RSA is the rhythm horses get into, especially this early in their chasing careers, is what defines them. Nobody gallops with as much as ease as the selection.

Selection: MONALEE (3/1)

3.30pm – Champion Chase

Ruby Walsh onboard Douvan clears the last on his way to winning Can Douvan beat Altior? Source: James Crombie/INPHO

If both Altior and Douvan were at the peak of their powers, this would be the headliner of the entire four days. It still might be, despite Douvan making his seasonal debut and Nicky Henderson’s stable star reporting lame on Monday morning.

However, is there a twist in this race billed as a clash of the titans? If your suggestion is Min, then the answer is no. Min might well be rated 167, but given his quirky tendencies in races, there’s never a guarantee with him. His interference over Simply Ned at Leopardstown may well have been put to bed by the Grade Two five weeks later, but there’s very little fluidity in his motion and he’s just not out of the same drawer as the top two.

This brings us back to the proverbial two-horse race – Douvan’s doing work on the gallops and Ruby Walsh seems quite content with him. If these two went at in full health, there probably wouldn’t be more than a couple of lengths between them.

If 5/4 is the price you’re offering about Altior after reporting in lame two days before the best two-mile chase on the planet, you can keep it.

Selection: DOUVAN (5/2)

5.30pm – Champion Bumper

Joseph O'Brien Joseph O'Brien will fancy his chances in this one. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

This is the race you’ll be absolutely sick to death of hearing about. Everyone reckons that the work their horse has been doing at home carries more significance than the rest of them. The reality is that they’re probably all special types and they’ll be significantly talked up by connections. This is a minefield.

It’s worth commenting on the sad loss of last year’s winner Fayonagh – and there’s every chance she would have gone on to do incredible things over obstacles.

Willie Mullins always has a strong hand in this. Blackbow was very impressive in seeing off the field in the Future Stars at Leopardstown, but the horse that caught my eye was Rhinestone for Joseph O’Brien. Held up, he made his challenge late and didn’t quite get the pace he wanted to run at. Given how competitive this will be, Joseph O’Brien’s gelding can pick up the pieces.

Acey Milan is not only the best-named horse at the festival, he’s also well-suited to the festival and the daunting Cheltenham hill that catches out so many of the younger types.

Selection: RHINESTONE (9/1)

Each-way Lucky-15

1.30pm – Next Destination (7/2)
2.10pm – Monalee (3/1)
3.30pm – Douvan (5/2)
5.30pm – Rhinestone (9/1)

Fancy a punt on Cheltenham? Ireland’s biggest bookmaker Paddy Power have the odds on every market – plus money back as a free bet on all losers if the SP favourite wins. Check out our Cheltenham odds here, or simply download the Paddy Power app for iOS or Android

For more tips, insight and the odd star columnist, head over to Paddy Power news.

All odds correct at time of writing.

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