As expected, the curtain raiser of the 2016 Cheltenham festival became somewhat of a Willie Mullins benefit event, as he amassed three facile winners, and a second in the form of the opening race favourite Min. Our each-way selection Altior duly obliged in the Supreme Novices race, showing tenacity, a good turn of foot and plenty of class when bounding away up the hill. On Wednesday, we have a few selections in what looks a great day of racing.
1.30 Cheltenham – Neptune Hurdle
Run over 2mies 5 furlongs, the Neptune Hurdle gives those younger staying hurdlers the chance to show their worth at Prestbury Park. Despite there being a plethora of last time out winners, the betting suggests that only two, maybe three runners have a conceivable chance of glory. The market is headed by Alan King’s Yanworth, a 6 year old gelding by Norse Dancer who has put in some imperious performances this season. After destroying a Grade 2 field last time out, he comes to Cheltenham on a five timer, and as a short priced favourite to boot. A big, rangy horse, Yanworth isn’t yet foot perfect at his obstacles, but his engine is something to behold. The way the horse scythed through his field last time out at Cheltenham and won without being asked a question, marks him down as a serious specimen. The only concern was that his wins have by and large come on a testing surface, and the question looms; will he be as effective with less give in the ground? Evidence from the Champion Bumper last year implies that the horse should be fine (he was a staying on fourth over 2miles), and the step up in trip last time out seemed to yield even more improvement. Will be very hard to beat.
The main danger comes in the form of Willie Mullins’ Yorkhill. It goes without saying that Mullins’ runners command the utmost respect, and his 6 year old representative is unbeaten under rules. Won a Grade One contest last time out and promises to be better on a sounder surface. The visual impression left by the son of Presenting last time out at Sandown, was not extraordinary, but as mentioned, the heavy ground was far from ideal, and his attitude can definitely be applauded. Likely to push our selection hard, but if Yanworth is as good as he has looked in recent starts, he could be very difficult to beat.
The RSA Chase is for novice chasers over 3 miles, and is a real test for the inexperienced jumpers. Again we like the look of the market leader, and again that horse runs in the J P McManus silks. More Of That may have only run 8 times, but in that period he has managed to bag a World Hurdle and put in two very polished runs over fences, demolishing his opposition on both occasions. The horse evidently has a serious engine, and may well have room for further improvement, having only seen the racecourse a handful of times. Has a great temperament, jumps well in the main and has the ability to fiddle his way out if getting in tight, and the good ground is absolutely fine. Is a really exciting horse who seems a straightforward ride, and might well make it if nothing else wants to go on.
Again our selection is faced with a rival from the Emerald Isle, and No More Heroes is sure to provide a stern test. Thrice raced over fences, he is the highest rated runner going into this contest on the back of a Grade One win last time out. Has disappointed once on good ground, but pedigree suggests it shouldn’t really be an issue. Maybe doesn’t have the engine of the selection, but definitely has to be respected.
Bet – 1 point win More Of That @ 47/252.88+1881.881.88-0.53 with Bet365
Yanworth to win the Neptune Hurdle
Cheltenham Festival, 13:30 GMT
More of That to win the RSA Chase
Cheltenham Festival, 14.10 GMT
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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