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Cheltenham day two tips: Tough battle for Willie Mullins in quest for elusive win

 

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Renewed hostilities: Richard Johnson in second place on Defi Du Seuil trails eventual winner Robbie Power on Chacun Pour Soi in The Ryanair Novice Steeplechase

Renewed hostilities: Richard Johnson in second place on Defi Du Seuil trails eventual winner Robbie Power on Chacun Pour Soi in The Ryanair Novice Steeplechase

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Tiger Roll

Tiger Roll

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Renewed hostilities: Richard Johnson in second place on Defi Du Seuil trails eventual winner Robbie Power on Chacun Pour Soi in The Ryanair Novice Steeplechase

The absence of defending champion Altior hurts today's Champion Chase but it leaves two young pretenders duking it out in one of the races of the Festival.

Willie Mullins' extraordinary training CV has very few blemishes and he'll be hoping that Chacun Pour Soi can confirm Punchestown form with Defi Du Seuil and land the two-mile chasing showpiece for the first time.​

Tiger Roll is the other star attraction on day two as Gordon Elliott's loveable chaser sets sights on a third Cross Country Chase to further cement his place in racing folklore.​

1.30pm Grade One Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 2m5f

Elliott won the day two opener with Samcro two years ago and has the red-hot favourite once again.​

Last year's Champion Bumper winner Envoi Allen got another form boost when stablemate Abacadabras - which he beat in the Royal Bond - ran a blinder in the Supreme.​

Winner of all seven starts under rules, Envoi Allen can justify the hype in a race where the market is a good guide, with nine of the last 10 winners priced at 8/1 or lower.​

Philip Hobbs' Sporting John is one to fear with three successive hurdle wins, but he lacks Festival know-how, while the same can be said of Colin Tizzard's The Big Breakaway, which has only had three lifetime runs.​

Martin Brassil's Longhouse Poet can defy his odds to make the frame but this could come a little soon in the promising career of Mullins' hugely talented The Big Getaway.​

Verdict: Envoi Allen can light up day two in the opening race under the guidance of Davy Russell.​

2.10pm Grade One RSA Insurance Novices' Chase 3m1/2f

Champ fell on his last start and, while there's no doubting the class of last year's Ballymore second, it's hard to trust his jumping in a top-class renewal and alternatives are sought.​

Allaho was behind re-opposing stablemate Easy Game - which is untested at three miles - on his chasing debut but is the clear No.1 with Paul Townend aboard after getting off the mark impressively at Fairyhouse.​

Minella Indo won the Albert Bartlett last year at 50/1 but hasn't done enough over fences to justify getting stuck in at odds of around 3/1, while Robbie Power has kept faith with Slate House over Copperhead.​

Slate House was a good winner of the Kauto Star Novices' Chase back over Christmas and, while he pulled up on his next start, there is a lot to like about Tizzard's charge with the trip and conditions sure to suit.​

Verdict: Slate House represents each-way value in a quality affair.​

2.50pm Grade Three Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle 2m5f

The 26-runner cavalry charge is always one of the Festival's most competitive races and bookmakers have made hay in the past decade, with no winner priced less than 9/1.​

Owner JP McManus has five in contention, with the classy Nicky Henderson pair of Dame De Compagnie and Birchdale of particular interest off handy racing weights.​

Value should be sought, however, and one horse which still looks unexposed is Thosedaysaregone.​

Winner of the ultra-competitive Ladbrokes Hurdle when coming with a late challenge under emerging jockey Kevin Brouder is ideal preparation for today's test, and there could be more to come from Charles Byrnes' seven-year-old, with Mullins' Franco De Port another potential improver.​

Verdict: Thosedaysaregone can land the odds for Byrnes and Brouder.​

3.30pm Grade One Queen Mother Champion Chase 2m

One of the races of the week and what looks like a two-horse race between market leaders Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi.​

Mullins bids to add the one championship race at the Festival which has eluded him, with the exciting Chacun Pour Soi dazzling since joining the Closutton maestro with three scintillating performances over fences.

Cheltenham is an unknown as he makes his debut at the Cotswolds, however, while the same cannot be said for Defi Du Seuil with two Festival wins (the Triumph in 2017 and the JLT last year), and Philip Hobbs' seven-year-old is a confident selection to turn the tables this time around.​

Barry Geraghty's mount has impressed this season in winning the Tingle Creek and the Clarence House Chase and possesses the pace, stamina and jumping fluidity to spark a new era of two-mile chasers.

Were there to be a spanner in the works and a mishap with the front pair, Paul Nicholls may be the one to benefit with Dynamite Dollars after a pleasing comeback effort in last month's Game Spirit Chase.​

Verdict: Defi Du Seuil can fend off Chacun Pour Soi in a classic duel.

4.10pm Glenfarclas Cross Chase 3m6f

All eyes will be on Tiger Roll as the people's horse bids for his fifth Festival victory en route to his historic Aintree National hat-trick bid.​

One of the bankers of the week for many, there were doubts about whether injury had derailed his bid, while 2018 Gold Cup second-placer Might Bite also has the class to have a say in things along with Jessica Harrington's Neverushacon.​

Verdict: Tiger Roll (Nap) can enhance his legendary status with victory.​

4.50pm Grade Three Boodles Juv Handicap Hurdle 4yo 2m1/2f

Horses priced 25/1 or bigger have won six of the last eight runnings, so punters should seek value in a typically competitive affair.​

The McManus-owned pair of Aramax (Elliott) and Mick Pastor (Nicholls) are likely to head the betting, with both of serious interest given the connections involved, so a market check before the off is advised.​

Aramax looks the most interesting and is open to significant improvement off this mark based on his Naas romp last time out, but stablemate Tronador may spoil the party.​

Denis O'Regan's mount has made a promising start to his hurdling career and the Thurles maiden winner remains totally unexposed racing off a feather weight.​

Theatre Of War is part-owned by golfer Shane Lowry and the aptly named Clara Jug Syndicate, and Gavin Cromwell's charge has an each-way squeak, while Elliott's Saint D'oroux is another intriguing type.​

Verdict: Tronador can exploit his handicap mark under O'Regan.​

5.30pm Grade One Weatherbys Champion Bumper 4-6yo 2m1/2f

There have been 20 Irish winners from the 27 renewals, with Mullins out to make it a perfect 10 of winners with hot favourite Appreciate It.​

The six-year-old oozed class at Leopardstown but it's hard to have huge confidence in a 23-runner field where former Mullins inmate Panic Attack could spoil the party for David Pipe.

The biggest danger may be stablemate Ferny Hollow, however, with Townend's mount a strong travelling type which got off the mark at the third time of asking with more positive tactics at Fairyhouse last month. He is the value at the prices.​

Mares have a brilliant recent record and Elliott's Queens Brook ticks many boxes, with crack amateur Jamie Codd in the plate for the Meath trainer.​

Verdict: Ferny Hollow may be the one to serve it up to Appreciate It.

Belfast Telegraph