Tom's Tips: Cheltenham festival second day preview
Yesterday we were treated to the thrills in the Cheltenham chill with records tumbling at the hands of Ruby Walsh, Hurricane Fly and Quevega.
Today, racing goes ahead in full after a planned morning inspection was cancelled. Temperatures have soared to a mighty one degree and there is plenty of high class action to distract punters from the cold.
The stage is set for the imperious and best chaser in training Sprinter Sacre to confirm his place among the Cheltenham greats.
Ridden by Barry Gerathy for Nicky Henderson, it would take a major shock for the seven year old not to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and by some distance, and it would seem churlous to try and oppose him, even with former champion Sizing Europe among those trying to find fault in his so far bullet proof armour. His odds may be prohibitive but the best advice is to just sit back to enjoy and marvel at what could well be the defining moment in this year's festival.
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There are three other grade ones today and the RSA Chase suddenly looks an open renewal following the defection of Dynaste to the Jewson later in the week.
Boston Bob for the Irish and Unioniste for the Paul Nichols Ditcheat yard both have strong chances but I have opted for Lord Windermere to take the spoils in what looks set to be a real three mile slog. After finishing a close second on his last appearance in a grade two novices chase he looked like he needed the step up in trip he gets today.
The Neptune, a grade one hurdle run over two miles five furlongs, pits the much hyped Irish fancy Pont Alexandre against The New One from the Nigel Twiston Davies team. On yesterday's evidence it seems Willie Mullins has brought his impressive team over in top form and all the noises from connections are that this horse is something special. The New One has won at Cheltenham over course and distance this season in impressive company but the narrow pick is for another success for the Walsh and Mullins team.
The Champion Bumper is always a tough race to call and has largely been dominated by the Irish in recent years. But this year I fancy the British to take the spoils and Sgt Reckless could provide a first festival winner for flat jockey Richard Hughes and trainer Mick Channon.
I fancy champion jockey AP McCoy to get off the mark in the Fred Winter handicap for Jonjo O'Neill under Another Sensation. The horse runs off a low enough mark and was well fancied in France and looked impressive before unseating his rider on his British debut.
Mr Watson is an improving hurdler and could land the Coral Cup, a grade three handicap run over two miles and five furlongs while my luck for the first, the JohnOaksey national hunt chase over four miles could go of Alan King's proven stayer Godsmejudge.
4.00- Mr Watson
4.40- Another Sensation