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Homeracing

Cheltenham Festival 2022: Day 2 Spot Plays

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

March 15th, 2022

Day two of the Cheltenham Festival is always highlighted by the Queen Mother Champion Chase, a Grade 1 race over the short journey (for steeplechasers) of two miles. It has provided numerous memorable moments over the years, most notably in recent times with the dual triumph of the very popular Sprinter Sacre.

The program also includes three other Grade 1 races, two Grade 3 contests, and the popular Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, featuring dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll.

TwinSpires has a Bet-Back offers at Cheltenham this week. If you opt in, you are eligible for your bet back with second and third finishers for all races, all week. We hope to help persuade you to be part of the fun. With that in mind, let’s have a look at the card!

Wednesday, March 16

Race 1: Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (G1), 2 5/8 miles, novice hurdlers

The Irish dominate this race, with six of the nine declared horses having crossed the Irish Sea.  Last year’s Festival Bumper (G1) winner #6 Sir Gerhard has been sent to this race instead of Tuesday’s Supreme Novices Hurdle, but despite winning his two hurdle starts, early European markets had him at odds-on, which seems very ungenerous given that he hasn’t raced beyond two miles.

The pair that look to be the best chances to topple him are also unbeaten over flights: Henry de Bromhead’s #4 Journey With Me and England’s #7 Stage Star. Both are proven over at least 2 1/2 miles; Journey With Me has beaten better horses, while Stage Star has been very impressive against weaker opposition. Stage Star looks progressive enough that he is worth taking at reasonable odds.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #7 Stage Star
  • $4 box exacta: 4, 6, 7

Race 2: Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (G1), 3 1/16 miles, novice steeplechasers

For once, the oddsmakers across the Atlantic expect the home team to dominate via #3 Bravemansgame and #9 L’Homme Presse. Both have been very impressive in their unbeaten steeplechasing careers to date but with Cheltenham experience on his side, L’Homme Presse may be the one to beat. Ireland’s best chances look to be #4 Capodanno and #2 Beacon’s Edge, though #8 Gaillard Du Mesnil has raced against some stronger fields and may be one for odds.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #9 L’Homme Presse
  • $1 trifecta: 3, 9 with 3, 4, 8, 9 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9

Race 3: Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (G3), 2 5/8 miles, open hurdlers

One of Cheltenham’s renowned handicaps, where the odds on winners in large fields are usually very good. Much will depend on whether #27 Good Risk At All starts. He began his career with three second-place finishes, one behind Supreme Novices prospect Jonbon, before breaking through for a good win at Ascot Feb. 19. He may need a scratching to get a run, but will be very hard to beat if he does. If not, maybe try #8 The Shunter, who loves Cheltenham.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #27 Good Risk At All (if he runs)
  • $10 win/$20 show: #8 The Shunter (if Good Risk At All does not run)

Race 4: Queen Mother Champion Chase (G1), 2 miles, open steeplechasers

Possibly the highlight of the festival. Punters got a fantastic preview of this race when unbeaten #7 Shishkin ran down the highly-rated Irish raider #2 Energumene late in the Clarence House Chase (G1) at Ascot Jan. 22.

The pair can be expected to fight it out again, and the Cheltenham hill should suit Shishkin. #1 Chacun Pour Soi would be competitive at best, but he has failed in his travels away from Ireland in the past; a better Irish chance may be #3 Envoi Allen for jockey Rachael Blackmore.

  • $30 win: #7 Shishkin
  • $10 show: #3 Envoi Allen

Race 5: Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, 3 3/4 miles, open steeplechasers

#15 Tiger Roll is best-known as a dual Grand National Steeplechase winner at Aintree, but he’s also started seven times at the Cheltenham Festival for five victories, three of which have been in this race. Now a 12-year-old veteran, he is hard to oppose. One worth a place bet might be Willie Mullins’ #3 Brahma Bull, who has been racing against better opposition.

  • $20 win: #15 Tiger Roll
  • $10 show: #3 Brahma Bull

Race 6: Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (G3), 2 miles, open steeplechasers

Another competitive handicap, there are numerous chances. The promising novice #10 Amarillo Sky has won two of his five steeplechases, including a stylish score at Newbury Feb. 20; also worth a serious look is #14 Frero Banbou, from the in-form Venetia Williams stable.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #10 Amarillo Sky
  • $5 win/$20 show: #14 Frero Banbou

Race 7: Champion Bumper (G1), 2 1/16 miles, National Hunt flat race

For horses that haven’t run in flat races under Jockey Club rules, this is normally dominated by the Irish and it should be the case again. Even though his odds may be short given a 22-strong field, the Willie Mullins-trained #7 Facile Vega was very impressive when winning the Future Stars Bumper (G2) during the Dublin Festival and will be hard to beat.

His strongest opponent looks to be #2 American Mike. If you like anything else, have a show bet on a backup Mullins runner; perhaps the best is #17 Seabank Bistro.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #7 Facile Vega
  • $10 show: #17 Seabank Bistro

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