Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on day two of the Cheltenham Festival with four horses tipped including in the Coral Cup and Fred Winter.
Recommended Bets: Cheltenham Festival Day Two
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It was a tough day for Nicky Henderson on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival with Angels Breath and Buveur D’Air high-profile disappointments, but stable star Altior can brighten his mood in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday.
Forecast strong winds have seen Cheltenham make contingency plans in case the second day is lost to the weather, but if we do get the green light then Altior can ensure the only tornado whistling through Prestbury Park is himself in the Champion Chase.
Unbeaten over obstacles in 17 starts, he’s a 175-rated two-mile chaser with 8lb in hand on his most dangerous rival, Min, a horse he has beaten twice before at the Cheltenham Festival.
He jumped a little to his left at right-handed Ascot last time, but that’s not really of much concern back at left-handed Cheltenham and the fact he beat a classy mudlark like Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek back in December is evidence that conditions won’t find him out.
He's obviously prohibitive in the betting as 2/5 favourite, while Delta Work and Tiger Roll look very solid for their respective assignments in the RSA Chase and Cross Country Chase, as well, but the rest of the card is really competitive.
In contrast to Henderson, Willie Mullins started Tuesday with a bang thanks to Klassical Dream and Duc Des Genievres and he could well begin the second day in similar vein when EASY GAME takes his chance in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 14/1 (General).
Champ and Battleoverdoyen head the market here but both look short enough for differing reasons.
The former will have to settle better than he has in his two starts at Newbury this season if he’s to get home in the ground, while the latter is lacking a little in experience having had just two hurdles starts in his career.
At the odds I’m happy to take the pair on and Easy Game still looks slightly underestimated at 14s despite support from 25s following the sizzling start for Mullins on day one.
Easy Game is four from six over hurdles and is proven in testing ground, while his Grade Two win at Navan in December is one of the best pieces of form in this race and he did it despite being squeezed for room.
Ruby Walsh had to slalom to avoid running off the course at Navan and then he had to battle through rivals, as well, so he’s shown a few qualities that will help him in the Ballymore and it could be significant his trainer was happy to rely on him in this (along with big outsider Castlebawn West).
The Navan form has worked out pretty well, as the third, Defi Bleu, went on to be a close second in a Grade Two at Limerick at Christmas, while the fourth, Rhinestone, was subsequently a half-length second in Grade One company at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Mullins has the Coral Cup favourite, as well, in Uradel, and while he could well justify favouritism I prefer the claims of his stablemate KILLULTAGH VIC under Paul Townend at 16/1 (General).
A supplementary entry for the Stayers’ Hurdle was mooted by Mullins a few weeks ago for this horse, but he must’ve changed his mind when he saw his mark for Cheltenham was exactly the same as his Irish rating on 150.
That means he’s 15lb well-in on his best chase form and, recently, his better runs have been over hurdles, most notably in the Galmoy back in January where he wasn’t beaten far by Presenting Percy having raced wide throughout.
A winner of a handicap hurdle at the Festival before in the 2015 Martin Pipe, as well as a Grade One over timber the same season when he beat Thistlecrack, he’d be an unusual winner of the Coral Cup being 10-years-old, but he is lightly-raced for his age and has had only nine career starts over hurdles.
He likes soft ground and he stays three miles well, so he has all the right tools for a strongly-run Coral Cup in testing conditions, and I particularly like that he’s a proven Grade One winner dropping into handicap company.
Last time out he was sent off 6/4 to beat Monalee at Gowran over fences, so that tells you plenty about his well-being at home and the merit of his previous run in the Galmoy, while horses towards the top of the weights have prospered recently in the Coral Cup.
I like him at 16s, and I was tempted by Tully East, as well, but for another selection in the race I can’t resist the 40/1 (Sky Bet, Coral 1/5 1,2,3,4,5) about KNIGHT IN DUBAI.
He’s got your typical Coral Cup profile, being a lightly-race up-and-comer, and he should also enjoy a stamina test at the trip being a point-to-point winner who stays two-and-a-half miles well.
Well beaten in last year’s Ballymore behind Samcro, he ran well in the calmer waters of lesser novice hurdles prior to that and a novice chasing campaign was aborted when he fell on his chasing debut at Cheltenham in October.
He was travelling well when he fell four from home, though, and he bounced back from that mishap with a really good run back over hurdles at Newbury at the end of December.
Running off 135 on his handicap debut, he finished with a flourish to force a photo with I’m A Game Changer, just losing out by a nose once the evidence was reviewed.
Up 4lb for that and kept back for this race since then, trainer Dan Skelton is highly skilled when it comes to waiting patiently for a sizeable pot, as he showed with his training of Superb Story in the County Hurdle a few years ago.
He’s underestimated at 40s considering he lost by a nose in his only other run in handicap company, especially if you believe this test will really suit.
Finally, I’m going with Mullins again in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Fred Winter) as his LA SORELITA might just love this ground at 22/1 (William Hill, Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power).
A winner on soft ground for Guillaume Macaire in France, she was sent off the 3/1 favourite for the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on her stable debut and wasn’t beaten far in fourth.
That was on Good to Yielding ground and conditions were quicker than that on her next two starts at Fairyhouse and Punchestown.
She was keen at Fairyhouse when third behind Surin and Gardens Of Babylon, while she was hassled on the lead at Punchestown where a mistake at the second ended her chance.
Still, those races have worked out okay, with Chosen Mate coming out of the second one, and she might just relish a strong gallop and a big field on soft ground.
Certainly, off a mark of 130 towards the bottom of the weights, she looks worth chancing at 22s.
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK and Ireland. Running total: +354.49pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1700 GMT on 12/03/19.
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