There is the chance of a light shower at Cheltenham for Stayers’ Hurdle Day which opens with the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase and the thirteenth start for the hitherto unbeaten Envoi Allen (1.20) who is 8/13 with BetVictor.
As a backer of both Concertista and Next Destination I can vouch for the fact that jockey Jack Kennedy was quite brilliant aboard both Black Tears and Galvin on the opening day and I would be disappointed if he does not guide Envoi Allen – now with Henry De Bromhead rather than Gordon Elliot – to a third win at the Festival following his wins in the Champion Bumper in 2019 and Ballymore Novice Hurdle 12 months ago.
Shan Blue will ensure there is no hiding place, and his slick jumping will be an asset for Dan and Harry Skelton, but I was impressed with Chantry House at Wetherby last time and feel he might chase the favourite home for Nicky Henderson. Shishkin and Epatante ran their race on the opening day although a couple of the yard’s inmates certainly failed to give their running. Chantry House is 3/1 with BetVictor without Envoi Allen.
I focus on Seven Barrows because I hope to see Champagne Platinum (1.55) land the Pertemps Final and give the British a first win in the race since Henderson scored with Call The Cops back in 2015. Gordon Elliot has won the last three renewals and The Bosses Oscar has the assistance of the new kid on the block 7lbs claimer Jordan Gainford who is earning rave reviews across the Irish Sea.
The ew selection – 13/2 with William Hill 5 places – finished second in a Haydock qualifier last month on ground, arguably, softer than ideal. The 7-y-old never really took to fences and he should appreciate the drying ground. Imperial Alcazar has long been my fancy for the race but his best form is with plenty of cut in the ground and I just wonder if conditions have gone against Fergal O’Brien’s runner. Paul Nicholls fits Southfield Harvest with first-time cheekpieces and he is considered a big danger in a race where I hope to see the British gain a rare success in the race.
The ground is coming right for Mister Fisher in the Ryanair and he is certainly high up on what is a long shortlist. Min won the corresponding race 12 months ago but no 10-y-old has won the race for a decade – Alberta’s Run the last – and I fancy Allaho of the Willie Mullins-trained runners even though stable jockey Paul Townend has settled for Min. Rachel Blackmore is a more than adequate replacement and Mullins fits his 6-y-old with a tongue-tie for the first time.
Imperial Aura did us a huge favour in the much-missed novice handicap chase here 12 months ago, but I just favour Fakir D’oudaries (2.30) who looked ready for a step back up in trip when runner up to Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown last time over 2m 1f. That form will be tested in the Champion Chase on Wednesday, but I felt he would have won the Arkle had he not missed out the second last 12 months ago and he looks to have been crying out for a step back up in trip. The ew recommendation is 8s with Boylesports.
Make no mistake this is a very deep race with Real Steel (25/1) and Chris’s Dream (33/1) both likely to appreciate the step down to this intermediate trip.
Paisley Park has looked as good as ever this season and is a short price to regain his Staying Hurdle crown having ran no race in the corresponding race 12 months ago when bidding to follow up his win in the 2019 renewal. He is the one to beat.
Beacon Edge (3.05) is closely matched with Fury Road on Navan running last month yet is more than double the price. Trainer Noel Meade saddled the 80/1 winner of the Boodles on Tuesday and his progressive seven-year-old was beaten less than a length by Honeysuckle in the G1 Hatton’s Grace earlier in the season. The ew recommendation is proven on decent ground and the 33/1 available on Tuesday evening was too big. At the time of posting he is 20s with BetVictor 4 places.
Jordan Gainford is in the plate aboard The Shunter who will gain a £100,000 bonus for connections if he lands the Plate having won the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso earlier in the month. He must go close, but he is short enough in the betting at 4/1 although he has plenty going for him carrying just 10st 5lbs including his jockey’s claim. He certainly has little to fear from fellow Irish raider A Wave Of The Sea at these terms on recent Leopardstown running.
I have thrown a couple of quid each way on Champagne Court and The Unit at 40/1 and 50/1 respectively, but my main fancy is former Triumph Hurdle winner Farclas (3.40) who has been running well in defeat in hot handicaps in Ireland so far this term for Gordon Elliot and should have the race run to suit. The 13/2 with Boylesports 5 places looks fair.
The form of Hook Up’s (4.15) fourth at Leopardstown last time behind stablemate Appreciate It was franked in no uncertain terms here on Tuesday when the three geldings who finished in front of her should have finished 1-2-3 in the Supreme. The mare was beaten less than 8L and she can build on that especially if her jumping improves. The 11/2 with Unibet looks a decent ew price.
The Kim Muir does not have many inform contenders although last season’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th reoppose. Kilfulum Cross (4.50) has finished runner up in the corresponding race for the last couple of years and this grey gets the each way vote from a 3lbs lower mark than 12 months ago. This looks sure to have been the plan for some time and he is taken to make it third time lucky. The each way selection is 16s with 10bet 5 places.
Hold The Note is well treated but will he appreciate the step up to three-and-a-quarter miles? I wonder. Mount Ida jumped out to her right on occasions last time, but she looks a big danger with the step up in trip considered a positive.
At Doncaster do look out for Jack Sharp (2.10) on the better ground. The selection is a half-brother to Mister Fisher so today’s better ground should suit the 6-y-old who has already shown a good level of form.
Bootlegger is well treated at present but was no match for the progressive One More Fleurie over 3m here on his first start for Tristan Davidson who has his string in excellent form. He is dropping back in trip by half a mile, however, and I just prefer Rob The Getaway (3.55) to Smith’s Bay in a cracking handicap chase.
The selection – 9/2 with William Hill – was brushed aside by Go Steady at Huntingdon last time, but he jumped very well out on the speed and today’s better ground will suit. The winner did little for the form on desperate ground at Sandown last weekend but that is easily forgiven.