Tuesday Nap: Imperial Aura, (1650 Cheltenham), 3pts win, 11/2:
Everything looks set for Kim Bailey’s novice to go really well in this handicap. He ran a fine second in a good race here in January after which he was raised 7lbs, but with the well beaten third having won impressively since there is reason to think there is still headroom in that mark. He won’t mind the give in the ground and is a good stayer at this trip. As long as he can maintain a decent jumping rhythm and hold position then he is likely to be the strongest at the finish.
Tuesday Big Race Feature: Ballyandy, (1530 Cheltenham), 1pt each way, 20/1 (to 4 places):
The big race on day 1 is the Champion Hurdle which looks wide open this year. Market leader Epatante looks the class act but bombed on her only previous run at this track last year. Pentland Hills looks a bit soft in a finish so plenty have chances. Supasundae, Darver Star, Ballyandy and Silver Streak are the most compelling at longer odds. Given the ground, and at the prices, consistent slugger Ballyandy looks a fair price to make the frame.
Rest of Tuesday:
Shishkin, (1330 Cheltenham), 1pt win, 3/1
A fascinating opener in which the same owners have both the Irish hotpot Asterion Forlonges and the UK favourite Shishkin. The more rain that falls the more that may suit the Irish hope, but Shishkin looks a class act, and classy types usually go on all but the heaviest of ground. Elixir D’Ainay looks a very big price given the rain and would be a decent each way shout.
Fakir D’Oudaries, (1410 Cheltenham), 1pt win, 9/2:
Plenty of interwoven form amongst the main Irish challenge with Notebook coming out on top. But he ran poorly here last year and although he beat Fakir D’Oudaries at Leopardstown this could be a very different race tactically on a very different course, and Fakir’s slick jumping and basic speed could be crucial. The race will be run at helter skelter speed and if a UK horse can creep into contention then it could be Rouge Vif at a fair price.
Big River, (1450 Cheltenham), 0.5pts each way, 25/1 (to 6 places)
Vinndication is a strong favourite having won well at Ascot on his one outing this season. That said he is 9lbs worse off with Kildisart on running here last season when they almost dead heated in the JLT, having looked a little ill at ease on what remains his only run left handed. We’ve been sweet on Kidlisart and still are, but the rain will stress his jumping. It may therefore be worth risking a lower weighted long shot. The Conditional makes appeal, but old rogue Big River flew home from nowhere for 6th in this last year and may be able to do better if able to sustain his interest.
Benie des Dieux, (1610 Cheltenham), 1pt win, 8/11:
This Mares hurdle, with due respect to the consistent Stormy Ireland, should be a match between the big two. Honeysuckle is unbeaten and that has to be respected and may have the edge on pace. Benie Des Dieux is unbeaten when standing up, and the conditions here should help her stamina win the day. Not a race to get heavily involved in from a betting value perspective, Benie wins, Stormy Ireland at 5/1 in the betting without Benie Des Dieux market is a viable option.
Carefully Selected, (1730 Cheltenham), 1pt win, 7/4:
A marathon novice chase with a short priced favourite in Carefully Selected. Despite some questions over his jumping, he is streets ahead on class and Willie Mullins will have freshened him up nicely for this. We were keen on Springfield Fox and remain so, but plenty of recent money for him now surely has him short enough, and too short to offer each way value.
The Daily Yankee:
Imperial Aura – Shishkin – Fakir D’Oudaries – Carefully Selected
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