Steve Hughes has his best bets for day two at Cheltenham
We had a solid start on Tuesday with a win for The Conditional (advised 15/2) with placed efforts for Discorama (advised 8/1) and Abracadabras (advised 11/2). Wednesday’s feature the Champion Chase is robbed of some of its interest with the loss of the defending champion. Therefore I have selections from three alternative races as trainer Willie Mullins looks to get off the mark for the week.
Cheltenham 2.10: Allaho
Narrowly defeated by Minella Indo in 3m hurdles both here and at Punchestown, I fancy Allaho to gain revenge in the RSA.
The lightly raced 6yo always looked to be a budding chaser and after two solid outings at 2m5f, I think he will excel back up to 3m today. He was outsprinted by Easy Game at Leopardstown, but thrashed Thursday’s Festival runner Milan Native by 21l at Punchestown. He does lack experience over fences, but his jumping has been spot on to date.
The Irish contingent do look a stronger bunch overall.
Cheltenham 2.50: Dame de Compagnie & Alfa Mix (Canardier already advised ante-post)
This race has served JP McManus well over the years and he has two strong contenders this afternoon.
First choice is Dame de Compagnie who looks incredibly well handicapped. A listed winner here in 2018, she missed last season through injury. She was a solid fifth in the Greatwood on her comeback, but 2m looked patently too short that day. That view was confirmed when she won in some style over 2m4f here against fellow mares in December. She goes well fresh so she has not run since – which preserves a generous looking mark of 140.
Alfa Mix is a fast improving 5yo. He looked of little account until winning a Tramore maiden in the autumn and it has been onwards and upwards since. He improved massively for a first run at 2m4f when winning his handicap debut at Navan and travelled well throughout his narrow defeat at the same track in January. JP has bought him since that run and this is an obvious target.
I put up Canardier ante-post on noticing he had joined Willie Mullins and I see no reason to desert him, although ideally the ground would be a bit firmer. He was fifth though on similar going last season and any sort of improvement for the switch in yards must see him thereabouts.
Cheltenham 4.50: Night Edition, Fraser Island, Group Stage
I am throwing three darts at the Fred Winter. All are English horses battle hardened off the flat.
Night Edition ran well to be a close second in a Grade 2 here on Trials Day and has since won snugly at Ludlow to qualify for this race. He acts well on testing ground and shows a good aptitude for jumping.
I am amazed at the price of Fraser Island. He had plenty of runs for Mark Johnston last summer, at around 12f. He made a big impression by winning by 11l at Newbury on jumping debut (albeit against modest opposition). Since then he has twice been beaten on sharp tracks, but he was not given a hard time at Plumpton last time and I think will appreciate both the hustle and bustle of this contest, plus the stiffer track.
The same applies to Group Stage, who ran Thyme White to a length at Musselburgh last time. He needed every yard of the trip to win at Ludlow on jumping debut and was not disgraced here in a Grade 2 when fourth to Botox Has. Again a return to this stiffer track will be of benefit.
1pt win – Allaho – 2.10 Cheltenham – 5/1 – Bet365, Boylesports, BetVictor
1pt each-way – Dame de Compagnie – 2.50 Cheltenham – 6/1 general
0.75pts each-way – Alfa Mix – 2.50 Cheltenham – 9/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 6)
already advised Canardier each-way 14/1 – 2.50 Cheltenham
0.5pts each-way – Night Edition – 4.50 Cheltenham – 20/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.5pts each-way – Group Stage – 4.50 Cheltenham – 28/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.75pts each-way – Fraser Island – 4.50 Cheltenham – 28/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
Next column – Thursday 12th March – day three at Cheltenham