Tom Lee's Cheltenham Festival Tips: Day 2 - Un De Sceaux To Oust Sprinter Sacre And Co In Queen Mother


An explosive opening day at the Cheltenham Festival developed into a feeding frenzy for Unibet customers, as the early defeat of Min in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle faded to become a rare bookie-friendly memory on a red letter day for punters.

One after another the bombs dropped on a shattered betting ring, as 1/4 market leader Douvan got the party started with a commanding win in the Arkle, before the same Richi Ricci, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh combination took control of the Champion Hurdle, as 5/2 jolly Annie Power surged to the front under a confident ride, in the process ridding her rider of the monkey on his back which was the memory of that final hurdle capsize on the same day 12 months previously.

She also became the first mare to land the Champion Hurdle since Flakey Dove way back in 1994, and she's now the winner of 14 of her 16 starts. 

Were they finished there?

Not a bit of it, as 4/6 favourite Vroum Vroum Mag travelled supremely to land the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle, giving the Richi, Mullins and Walsh team a stunning 6/1 treble on the day.

An extraordinarily dominant display on a hugely competitive card, but can they repeat the feat on day two?

Layers looking for some respite may be peeping through gaps in their fingers at the opening Neptune Novices' Hurdle (1.30pm), in which Alan King's Yanworth is a confident pick to get favourite backers off to a winning start. 

The six-year-old proved his affinity for Cheltenham when fourth in the Champion Bumper this time last year, but since going hurdling this season he's sprouted wings, winning all four starts with authority. 

His latest win at the end of January was especially impressive, slamming Albert Bartlett hopeful Shantou Village by seven lengths. 

He's up against a Willie Mullins-trained Grade 1 winner in Yorkhill, but 158-rated Yanworth is nonetheless a confident pick. 

Yanworth races in the famous green and gold silks of JP McManus, and it could be an early double on the card for 'JP' as he has More Of That to look forward to in the RSA Chase (2.10pm).

Trained by one of the best loved characters in the sport, Jonjo O'Neill, who had a winner (Minella Rocco) and a second (Holywell) on the opening day, this fella was under serious consideration for the Gold Cup at one point, but the decision to remain in the shallower waters of the RSA can pay dividends. 

A perfect four from four here at Cheltenham and two from two over fences, this horse oozes class.

He's also the only horse ever to beat Annie Power when she has completed - quite an accolade after her Champion Hurdle romp!

From the sublime to the nigh on impossible....the Coral Cup (2.50pm) is up next....bringing with it a 26-runner puzzle to be solved.

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, Unibet are price boosting all of Richard Johnson's mounts during the Festival, something that could be to our advantage with the soon to be Champion jockey on board Rock The Kasbah.

The six-year-old finds himself on a mark of 152 after recent wins at Haydock and Ascot, but if he carries on progressing then he could easily develop into a World Hurdle horse in 12 months' time, and with his liking for a big field he could thrive here.

The day's feature race, the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30pm), looks at the mercy of last season's Arkle hero Un De Sceaux.

Dominant at Ascot in January, the eight-year-old won't be a fancy price but can give Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh another winner.

Last of all, don't miss comeback kid Balthazar King in the Cross Country (4.10pm).

The winner of this race in 2012 and 2014, plus second in the Grand National two years ago, he has made a Lazarus-like return from injuries sustained at Aintree last April, and can crown his rehabilitation with a big display in his favourite race. 

His form figures in Cross Country races since the start of 2013 read 111F1, and Philip Hobbs won't have put time and energy into training him for this race if he doesn't think he can win. 

Good luck!

 

Tom's best bets with Unibet on day two:

1.30 - 10 Yanworth (win)

2.10 - 3 More Of That (win)

2.50 - 3 Rock The Kasbah (each way)

3.30 - 10 Un De Sceaux (win)

4.10 - 3 Balthazar King (each way)