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    Cheltenham Blog  -  Day Two, Wednesday 14th March 2012    
    DATE POSTED: 13/03/2012    

Ruby Rocked on, Cinders and Ashes burned no bridges and Sprinter Sacre was imperious
.  So much for day one, now its on to day two of Cheltenham 2012 with the RSA and the Queen Mother Chases along with the wide open Coral Cup and the fascinating Bumper...


Day two beckons and, whether licking wounds or stashing the cash, it's time to take a view on Wednesdays festivities.

The day kicks-off with a formidable 4m Novices Chase for Amateur Riders and Sam Waley-Cohen gets the chance to flex his muscles on Nick Williams' Alfie Spinner ahead of taking his seat aboard Long Run in Thursday's Gold Cup.  It's probably best to ignore the respective merits of the riders as they are all capable, otherwise they wouldn't be aboard these valuable horses.  Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping for a win from Harry the Viking who has won four in a row and deserves to be favourite but the betting may be a little skewed by the 'Fergy factor'.

Irish-trained horses have not done particularly well in this race in the past, but the betting shows that punters are evenly split this year as around half of the top 10 in the betting are from across the water.  Among these are Willie Mullins Allee Garde & SOLL (1.30pm), who has been in the notebook for a while and we will stick to him as a hopeful win choice.  BLENHEIM BROOK has also been on my radar this season and could be a good each bet at around 20-1.

Nicky Henderson's SIMONSIG (2.05pm) has been a warm order for the Neptune Novices Hurdle for a long time and clearly has a bright future.  John Ferguson's first full season as a trainer has been extremely successful, with a 36% strike race. COTTON MILL is unbeaten over hurdles and, although rated 9lbs below Simonsig, his handler would be delighted with a place, although he has two other possibles running in later races.

GRAND CRUS (2.40pm) tackles the RSA Chase rather than the Gold Cup and looks nailed-on to win this somewhat easier race for trainer David Pipe. FIRST LIEUTENANT won the Neptune last year and will find any chinks in Grand Crus armour.

Something will have to run out of its skin to get ahead of hot favourite SIZING EUROPE (3.20pm) in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and it looks best to try and find the second or third for value.  Paul Nicholls runs two in this race but neither youngster Kauto Stone or Wishful Thinking seem to currently have the credentials needed for such a prestige event. Sizing Europe and Big Zeb have had a few ding-dong battles and we think the latter should be in the placings. 10YO GAUVAIN hasn't fired in two runs this year but he has an enviable record on this course and actually won on his last four appearances here. 33-1 looks like a very sporting small stakes each-way wager.

Many a gamble has been landed on the Coral Cup Handicap but surprisingly only one favourite has won in the last 17 years and the higher weighted horses are also unblessed. Choosing the winner is a very tall order and it's probably a race left alone.  Among David Pipe's four runners his 5YO French import BALGARRIE (4.00pm) has just sneaked into the race as bottom weight and it would be no surprise to see him close-up at the death. Another 5YO worth considering is Venetia Williams' TENOR NIVERNAIS, who ran a good race in the Fred Winter Juvenile here last year and notching up a couple of wins against older horses this year.

This year's Fred Winter race also has a David Pipe entry. KAZLIAN (4.40pm)'s sire Sinndar won the English and Irish Derby and the Arc, and this is plenty of reason to suppose that the gelding possesses the speed and stamina to be a top hurdler. ROYAL BONSAI is more workmanlike but could give John Quinn a good day out, and 18-1 each-way seems a fair wager.

The finale is a 2m Bumper which is usually plundered by Willie Mullins who has saddled the winner 6 times. His representatives are CHAMPAGNE FEVER and Pique Sous and while both have obvious chances we just prefer the former. However we are looking for a bigger price Irish contender and that might be the well-bred YES WAY HOSAY (5.15pm) who showed a lot of grit to get home in a Bumper at Wexford and 33-1 looks tempting.


The safest bet of the day seems to be GRAND CRUS (2.40pm) and we select GAUVAIN (3.20) as the best of the each-way chances. Good luck!

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