Top broadcaster Mike Cattermole previews day two of the Cheltenham Festival and he's expecting a striking performance from Champ in the Ballymore.
It would have been a big price for the “big three” to finish out of the first three in the Champion Hurdle and, moreover, full marks to sportinglife.com colleague Simon Holt for his inspired each-way tip for 100-1 shot Silver Streak!
What a relief that Buveur D’Air seemed none the worse for his fall and no doubt Nicky Henderson will be even more anxious now about Altior as he puts his unbeaten chasing record on the line in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of the Festival.
Let’s hope he makes it 13 out of 13 and gains his fourth successive Festival success. I wonder if Min will be beaten seven lengths by him again?
This race will be run at a fierce gallop and that may conjure some improvement out of Hell’s Kitchen who tends to take quite a hold and will appreciate dropping in trip. He may sneak into a place.
Meanwhile, Henderson will be more than hopeful of getting the day off to a good start with Champ in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
True, the stats are against Champ who won the Challow Hurdle at Newbury last time and that race has an appalling record as a stepping-stone to this. Even Denman was unable to complete the double.
Also, Champ would become just the second seven-year-old, after French Holly in 1998, to win the race.
On the plus side, he is now unbeaten in his last four and impresses with the way he travels in, and finishes off, his races – he has a fine turn of foot. On official ratings, he has 5lb and upwards in hand.
Battleoverdoyen is a cracking looking horse whose size is matched by his athleticism and he is going to make some chaser. Unbeaten in two starts at Navan and Naas, he gave 3lb to Sams Profile on the latter occasion and beat him just under three lengths, albeit when getting first run.
Interestingly, this will be the softest ground Battleoverdoyen has encountered.
City Island has been first past the post on all three of his hurdles starts (disqualified on the first of them for having arsenic in his system) and is yet to be extended. He is hugely respected.
Delta Work looks the bet of the day in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase. He has looked a bit special and his three wins also included a defeat of Le Richebourg in the Grade One Drinmore at Fairyhouse and then another at the top level at Leopardstown last time.
His jumping has not been entirely foot perfect but he clearly has an exceptional engine.
Topofthegame, another fine looker, has been beaten on both his chase starts but his was an incredible performance on his debut at Exeter when losing 20 lengths at the start before chasing home the smart Defi Du Seuil to only three and a half lengths.
He then got essentially outstayed by La Bague Au Roi in the Kauto Star at Kempton, when Santini stayed on well into third. The setback sustained by Santini in the build up to this is off-putting, however.
With the way the Willie Mullins team has started the week, Uradel must be feared by everyone in the Coral Cup. He could easily be well handicapped over hurdles after his eye-catching keeping-on fifth over an inadequate two miles at Leopardstown last month.
Remember, he was an excellent second in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last October and this trip will be much more to his liking.
Tully East also caught the eye in that Leopardstown race and was a Festival winner over fences two years ago off a 3lb higher mark.
Brio Conti surprised Paul Nicholls with his win at Ascot last month and is said to be a much fitter horse now. He is lightly raced and could have more to offer.
Vision Des Flos is also shortlisted as he is a model of consistency and has a touch of class about him.
I have no strong views about the Glenfarclas Chase but hope that the legendary Tiger Roll wins again – for the fourth time at the meeting!
It is a shame that the sponsors Boodles have decided to get rid of Fred Winter’s name in the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
This is notoriously hard but with a strong team in this department, it is probably best left to Joseph O’Brien and especially his first string, Band Of Outlaws.
Having won on testing ground at Limerick – with stablemate Fine Brunello six lengths behind in fourth - he went on to win well at Naas.
Fine Brunello, since runner-up to Fakir d’oudairies on this course, is no better off at the weights with Band Of Outlaws.
Blue Sari’s superb turn of foot at Gowran Park led to JP McManus splashing out and he is a leading fancy in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Fascinatingly, he is Willie Mullins’s only runner as he chases win number ten.
Ask For Glory was an easy winner at Chepstow but the form has not worked out, so Envoi Allen, with his solid profile, is an obviously bigger danger.
1.30 CHAMP, 2.10 DELTA WORK, 2.50 URADEL, 3.30 HELL’S KITCHEN (EW), 4.10 TIGER ROLL, 4.50 BAND OF OUTLAWS, 5.30 BLUE SARI