Cheltenham Festival Round Up: Odds-On Upsets on Ladies Day

Cheltenham Festival Round Up: Odds-On Upsets on Ladies Day
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Day Two was Ladies Day at the Cheltenham Festival and it was a fitting homage after the Mares had dominated Day One. Epatante and Put The Kettle On kicked Champion Hurdle and Arkle victories before the fabulous Honeysuckle earned the plaudits after coming out on top in a titanic battle with Benie Des Dieux.

Punters who made the pilgrimage to Prestbury Park today were also in for a treat on the second day of the festival.

Wednesday represented two of the great Irish hopes for the festival in the shape of Tiger Roll and Envoi Allen, both from the Gordon Elliott yard. It was the latter who would first get his chance to shine in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and would be sent off as an overwhelming favourite by most horse racing bookies.

The unbeaten six-year-old did not disappoint and retains that coveted status. With Davy Russell on board, he raced rather keenly and seemed to be under some threat coming around the final bend but his talent and class shone through up the hill.

Without injecting a real burst of speed Envoi Allen instead edged past his rivals and showed tremendous stamina to draw clear at the final 100 yards to by over four lengths.

Champ Lives Up To Name

Next up was the hotly contested 3m1/4f RSA Insurance Novices Chase where the heavily fancied trio of Minella Indo, Allaho and Champ were due to do battle. Those three would occupy the podium spots after passing the post but the manner in which they closed out that race stunned the tens of thousands in attendance and those watching from home.

Minella Indo and Allaho were neck-and-neck coming up the hill and either looked a likely winner before Champ, who drifted out to 4/1 before the off, produced an almighty comeback despite looking dead and buried. It was a masterful ride from Barry Geraghty, but the result could have been different had Minella not made a mistake at the final fence.

A spokesperson for BoyleSports revealed Champ has already been backed for next year's Gold Cup, with introductory odds of 12/1 offer by the Irish bookie. “Barry Geraghty had a remarkable Wednesday at Cheltenham winning on Champ and Dame De Compagnie for owner JP McManus, with Champ already seeing support at 12/1 for the 2021 Gold Cup,” explained Sarah Kinsella.

Geraghty would make it two wins on the trot in the Coral Cup after he steered the 5/1 favourite Dame De Campagnie home despite the best efforts of Davy Russell and Kevin Brouder on board Black Tears and Thosedaysaregone who will have earned backers some nice each way money, coming in at 12/1 and 10/1 respectively.

The feature race off the day, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, was torn apart prior to the race following the revelation that both Altior, who was withdrawn yesterday, and Chacun Pour Soi, a late casualty, would not take part. This left the race wide open for Defi Du Seuil to make it three-and-a-row for Barry Geraghty on the day.

But it wasn’t to be for Philip Hobbs’ charge who didn’t seem comfortable three out and looked like he could have been pulled up before the final fence. Politologue, who led from the off, was a deserving winner having steadied the ship superbly following a few dodgy leaps early on.

Dynamite Dollars and Bun Doran contested second and third as bookies breathed a sigh of relief - but would only prove to be momentary respite?

Tiger’s Roar Not Enough

There was one name on everybody lips heading into the Cross Country Chase. Tiger Roll has become somewhat of a cult hero in Ireland, so much so he had shortened into 11/2 from 10/1 to land the RTE Sports Personality of the Year Award before his Cheltenham ride.

It wouldn’t be a straightforward task for the Gordon Elliott trained 10-year-old, however. The 2020 renewal of the Cross Country Chase featured former festival winners Might Bite and Josies Orders - both of whom are capable of mounting a challenge on their day - as well as the likes of Easysland, Yanworth and Urgent De Gregaine.

And it wasn’t to be for Tiger Roll and Keith Donoghue who were outdone by the extremely impressive Easysland who pulled away to win by over 15 lengths in the end. The Gigginstown horse was not disgraced back in second and was well clear of the rest of the field. Those in attendance will leave the track feeling like they have witnessed a festival winner for years to come for David Cottin.

Aramax, 12/1, pipped Night Edition to the post in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle while in the Champion Bumper it was Ferny Hollow who found a first Festival winner for Willie Mullins with Paul Townend in the saddle.

Faugheen Lined Up to Complete Comeback

Time:Click Race For Trends & Report
13:30 Marsh Novices' Chase (Grade 1) (2m 4f)
14:10 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (3m)
14:50 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (2m 5f)
15:30 STAYERS' HURDLE (Grade 1) (3m)
16:10 Festival Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (2m 5f)
16:50 Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 1f
17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (3m 2f)

Patrons making their way to the track are in for a treat once again on Day Three. Rich Ricci and co will be hoping Faugheen can reel back the years in Thursday’s opener. ‘The Machine’ takes on stablemate Melon as well as the highly rated Samcro and Itchy Feet in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at 1.30.

The Ryanair Chase is another race that can’t be missed with plenty poised for big runs. Rachael Blackmore will hope to continue her rich vein of form this season on board A Plus Tard, but every entry will fancy their chances to be there or thereabouts at the line.

Thursday’s feature race, the Stayers Hurdle at 3.30pm, is one-sided in the betting with Paisley Park and odds-on 'banker' at 4/6 to romp home. As with every race at the Festival, however, there is plenty of talent lower down in the market who could offer enticing each-way bets for value-seekers.