The 2023 Cheltenham Festival kicked off with a bang on Tuesday.
Honeysuckle brought the curtain down on her phenomenal career with victory in the Mares’ Hurdle, while Constitution Hill demolished his Champion Hurdle rivals in stunning fashion.
Day two promises to be another thriller with the Queen Mother Champion Chase taking centre stage.
We tipped four winners on day one – here’s what our betting expert Tom Lunn is predicting on day two on Wednesday.
1.30pm – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle preview and tip
This gelding’s form is proving better and better with his last win coming at Newbury and subsequently those behind have gone on to win.
You Wear It Well won well at Sandown in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle by over seven lengths in a Grade 2 contest.
Hermes Allen is still only six-years-old and has plenty of improvement still to come, and what better place to showcase that than Cheltenham Festival?
Initially tipped at 5/1 he’s seen some huge interest in the lead-up to the opener.
He wears the familiar colours of the joint ownership involving Sir Alex Ferguson who often has a few big runners, with this year being no exception.
Nicholls spoke to Betfair about his chances: “He showed next to nothing at home when he joined us and surprised me when he bolted up on his debut at Stratford. He has quickly developed into a top class novice, landing the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury last time in tremendous style on attritional ground. The form of that race has been well franked since then.
Hermes Allen is unbeaten over hurdles, looks fab, worked stylishly on Saturday morning, can handle any ground and the trip is not an issue as he will stay three miles in due course. I’d say he is one of my best chances of the week.”
2.10pm – Brown Advisory Chase preview and tip
2.10pm is the time of the off for the second Grade 1 of the day with this 3m contest.
It’s incredibly open in many respects with plenty of horses an unknown at this distance.
The favourite Gerri Colombe is unbeaten for Gordon Elliott, who is three for three when chasing in the Robcour colours.
But Sir Gerhard could prove to be a big price when tipped at 6/1 – as he’s had just one run over fences, which came in a three-runner race where he absolutely dominated.
Which answered questions about his ability over fences but not so much about how he could fare in a much more competitive chase.
Before that though, he won the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival last year and could easily repeat that kind of feat.
It’s interesting to see Sir Gerhard try the Brown Advisory though, which is further than anything he’s attempted before under rules.
But with Willie Mullins in charge he might just relish this step up having also won at 2m5f there could be some untapped potential especially with a point win at 3m.
2.50pm – Coral Cup Hurdle preview and tip
This is a hurdle contest set over 2m5f on the old course at Cheltenham with a maximum field at time of writing, with 26 runners.
There can be cases made for quite a few of these but it’s definitely helpful to use trends of recent years pave the way to a well-informed each-way bet.
And another important factor has to be consistency and ability in these kinds of races.
HMS Seahorse has been just that over hurdles recently and was only fourth to Brazil in last year’s Juvenile Hurdle Handicap.
He’s since gone on to place over hurdles and win to Felix Desjy last time out.
But crucially, was gelded in January and more improvement after that could well be on the cards for a horse that also is often seen on the flat.
3.30pm – Champion Chase preview and tip
The Alan King-trained star and Energumene are vying for favouritism, despite the pair losing at Cheltenham in the trials to Editeur Du Gite last time, who is himself the outsider of the three for the Champion Chase.
But there was just a head in it last time out between Edwardstone and Editeur De Gite.
Edwardstone is still in tremendous form despite going up 9lb from his big victory over Greaneteen at Sandown in December.
The nine-year-old will need to step up to last year’s winner Energumene in what’s set to be a thrilling contest for the feature race of the day.
4.10pm – Cross Country Chase preview and tip
This is always a tough race, as horses have to navigate a long 3m6f course with a variety of obstacles.
One that loves it here is the Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work, the clear favourite in the market.
He’s now 5lb lower than when he won this last year, beating two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll, and hasn’t been far off on his recent runs either which gives him a huge chance.
He placed third in the Grand National and has superior to stamina to almost all horses.
He attempted reverting back to hurdles last time but was beaten by Blazing Khal, which can be forgiven over a much sharper distance.
And the ideal prep run at Cheltenham on January was also encouraging despite finishing third and would be difficult not to side with.
4.50pm – Grand Annual Chase preview and tip
Tipped this horse last year at 40/1 with the expectation of his wind surgery doing the trick and a return to chasing would suit, but hasn’t impressed since.
He’s only had one run over fences and disappointed in two tough graded hurdles this season behind Hewick and I Like To Move It.
But he’s still on a very dangerous mark, considering he was once rated 156 over fences.
He went on to have two wind surgeries while rifling down the weights and is given a similar opportunity this year as an each-way chance.
But in these big fields it would be ideal to side with two horses each-way to boost your chances.
And one horse that stands out is Sizing Pottsie, also at 18/1 who could sneak in a little undetected due to finishing far back in his latest runs.
But they were in tough Grade 2 and Grade 1 chases, something this horse is used to – placing behind Energumene in December 2021 and Melon in 2022 in Ireland.
Was pulled up in this two years ago but had a wind op in July and stepping into a handicap off a much reduced mark while pinging about fences and hurdling gives off hints of a Global Citizen style run last year.
5.30pm – Champion Bumper preview and tip
This horse has won all three of his races including a win here back in October.
Since then Strong Leader, Thecompanysergeant, Mamoon Star and Gentle Slopes who all finished within ten lengths of winner have all gone on to win in some capacity.
The most notable being the former, who went onto win three novice hurdles and placing ninth in the Supreme.
Those were all on good ground but will be up there if handling a bit more cut in the mud.
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