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2015 Cheltenham Festival tips - The essential guide to Wednesday's race card

Nick Wilby in Tips 20 Dec 2018
Nick picks out his best bets in every race at Cheltenham on Wednesday.
Nick is backing Sprinter Sacre to bounce back to form in the Champion Chase on Wednesday.

Nick takes a look at Wednesday's card at Cheltenham and gives his tips on every race on the second day of the meeting.

Register with William Hill and back Sprinter Sacre OR Sire De Grugy to win the Champion Chase at an enhanced 4/1.

Nick's selections:

13.30 - BEAST OF BURDEN (12/1, Paddy Power)
14.05 - DON POLI (7/4, bet365)
14.40 - ACTIVIAL (8/1, Paddy Power)
15.15 - SPRINTER SACRE (5/2, Ladbrokes)
16.00 - ANY CURRENCY (5/1, Paddy Power)
16.40 - THE SAINT JAMES (18/1, Coral
17.20 - WAIT FOR ME (14/1, Ladbrokes)

The bookmakers were saved from their biggest payout in Cheltenham Festival history when Annie Power took a tumble at the last in Tuesday's Mares' Hurdle and although Mullins dominated proceedings on day one, the bookies will be looking to win back their cash on Wednesday.

The Champion Chase is the feature of the day and race fans can look forward to another sensational afternoon of action at Prestbury Park.

13:30 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 

Wednesday kicks off with the Neptune and it’s another betting heat dominated by Willie Mullins.

The handler is represented by market leader Nichols Canyon (10/3, William Hill) and second favourite Outlander (4/1, Paddy Power) and both bring decent form to the table.  The former has been a favourite for the race for some time and his victory in the Grade One Deloitte was certainly impressive.  That being said, he looks more than beatable and his jumping around Cheltenham is a huge worry.

There doesn’t look to be a rock solid option in the field but one horse open to plenty of improvement is BEAST OF BURDEN (12/1, Paddy Power) and Rebecca Curtis’ six-year-old is an exciting prospect.

The selection is a sibling to many classy performers (not least Voy Por Ustedes) and he has already won three out of his four starts on the track.  It was clear that he was a horse to follow after he strode impressively clear on his bumper debut and the son of Flemensfirth has improved with every run over hurdles.

He latest success came when he gave weight and an eleven length beating to Mendip Express at Bangor and the speed test that ensued at the track suited the horse perfectly.  He has be keen on both of his successes over obstacles and a stronger-run race down to the Neptune trip is sure to suit.

If he is allowed to bowl along over 2m5f then he could take some stopping and ground conditions are unlikely to be a problem.

Selection – BEAST OF BURDEN (12/1, Paddy Power)

Place a bet on the Neptune Hurdle with Sky Bet and get your money back if your horse finishes second or third in the race.

14:05 RSA Chase (Grade 1) 

Gold Cup heroes Denman, Bobs Worth and Lord Windermere have all won the RSA Chase in recent years and it takes an extremely good horse to land the Grade One contest.

This year’s race looks typically competitive and Kings Palace (7/2, Coral) and The Young Master (5/1, Paddy Power) both look set to put their huge reputations on the line.  They have both attracted plenty of ante post support but they will have to be every bit as good as their connections believe if they are going to get near DON POLI (7/4, bet365).

Willie Mullins’ six-year-old looks to be the perfect horse for the RSA and he‘s already tasted Festival glory in last year’s Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle.  He looks to have blossomed into a real force in the novice chasing division since he switched to the larger obstacles at the beginning of the season and he has displayed a number of impressive attributes over fences.

Described by his trainer as a real stayer of “potentially extreme distances,” Don Poli clearly has a huge engine and he showed as much when he powered to a three length success in the Grade One Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown in December.

He delivered a flawless performance in that contest and proved that he has a high cruising speed and a fantastic jumping technique to add to his bottomless stamina.  The fact he can look workmanlike on the course isn’t necessarily a bad thing and connections already have one eye on the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup for the horse.

The form of the Irish raider’s Topaz success has been franked by Apache Stronghold (who finished three lengths second) and the County Carlow inmate looks to be improving with every run he has.

Don Poli has form on both good and soft ground and he looks set to prove that he is a future winner of the ‘blue riband.’

Selection - DON POLI (7/4, bet365)

14:40 Coral Cup (Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle) 

The Coral Cup is one of the week’s most competitive handicaps and a whole host of potential improvers line up in the highlight.

There have been plenty of intriguing whispers about a number of the horses taking their chance but ACTIVIAL (8/1, Paddy Power) can finally land the huge pot that he has always threatened to win.

The lightly-raced grey missed out on a trip to the Festival last year due to inexperience, but he will arrive at Prestbury Park in fantastic form and he could be seriously hard to stop in a ferociously competitive race.

The selection ran a very promising race in third on his seasonal reappearance in the Ladbroke at Ascot and he was well backed to win the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month.

He travelled supremely well in both contests but he clearly wasn’t suited to the way the race was run last time out and he must rate a fair bit better than his third position would suggest.

His Betfair Hurdle conquerors Violet Dance and Cheltenian were first and second for a long way and the handicap’s gallop saw the front-runners prosper.

Activial was the only horse that came out of the pack to mount a challenge but it was all too late and Fry’s star flew home for third.  As a result he still looks very well treated and a step up to 2m5f could suit the exciting hurdler.

He has all the right credentials for the Coral Cup and he can land a memorable success for exciting young trainer Harry Fry.

Selection – ACTIVIAL (8/1, Paddy Power)

15:20 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is sure to be the most eagerly anticipated contest at this year’s Festival and the eyes of the jump racing world will be on SPRINTER SACRE (5/2, Ladbrokes) as he looks to regain his Cheltenham crown.

The superstar will be bidding to complete a Lazarus-like comeback under the guidance of Nicky Henderson and it would be the story of the meeting if he could leap back into the winner’s enclosure at HQ.

There is every reason to believe that Henderson’s dream could become reality and there were plenty of positives to take from his comeback run in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot last month.

Returning on the back of a 386 day absence after being found to have an irregular heartbeat in the 2013 Desert Orchid Chase, Sprinter Sacre finished a creditable second to Paul Nicholls’ Dodging Bullets, putting in some good jumps before travelling strongly into the race.

His finishing effort was undoubtedly subdued and he emptied out rapidly over the last fence, but he clearly lacked race fitness and Barry Geraghty gave the horse an easy time once beaten.

In his prime Sprinter Sacre was rated 23lbs better than Dodging Bullets and connections are confident that their horse will be a lot sharper at the Festival.  Upbeat bulletins on his homework will give his army of followers plenty of reason to be confident ahead of the meeting and he doesn’t have to improve too much to beat his rivals at Prestbury Park.

The ‘aeroplane’ was the highest rated chaser since Arkle and Flying Bolt in the 1960s when he won the Champion Chase in 2013 and if he was half the horse he was then it could still be good enough to win in March.  

The fact that he will also get better ground at Cheltenham is a huge positive and although nobody is expecting it to be the procession it was two years ago punters should expect another pulsating success from Henderson’s stable flagbearer.

Selection - SPRINTER SACRE (5/2, Ladbrokes)

Register with Bet Victor and get 10/1 on Sprinter Sacre to win the Champion Chase.

16:00 Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country) (5yo+, Class 2, 3m 7f, 16 runners)

Balthazar King remains the only British-trained horse to win this novelty contest and the Irish have had a firm grip on the race ever since it was launched in 2005.

The reigning champion will not be at HQ to defend his crown but he has made way for last year’s second ANY CURRENCY (5/1, Paddy Power) who can go one better in the 3m7f handicap.

Martin Keighley’s twelve-year-old appears to have found plenty of improvement at this late stage of his career and he was last seen thrashing Quantitativeeasing on the cross-country course twelve months ago.

With form figures of 932241 he looks like he will be very difficult to keep out of the mix and a 9lbs rise might not be enough to stop the veteran.  Previous good form at the specialist discipline is absolutely essential and a success at the course is a huge plus.

Selection -  ANY CURRENCY (5/1, Paddy Power)

16:40 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (4yo, Class 1, 2m 110y, 22 runners)

The Fred Winter is rapidly becoming a graveyard for punters and it's certainly one of the most competitive races of the entire Festival.  It attracts a number of horses that aren't deemed up to the standard of the Triumph Hurdle on Friday but it's still full of class and another good field goes to post.

Irish raider Hostile Fire (8/1, William Hill) has been very popular in the betting and Golden Doyen (18/1, Coral) has a great chance at the head of the weights, but THE SAINT JAMES (18/1, Coral) could cause a bit of a shock for trainer Jonjo O’Neill.

The selection was twice a winner over hurdles in France and finished runner-up in a Grade Two chase there last time out.  It was enough for connections to pay 320,000gns to purchase him and there is certainly a lot to like about the recruit.

He pulled too hard on his debut at Sandown and clattered a number of hurdles at a slow pace, but he is sure to learn a lot from that outing and the way the Fred Winter is run could be perfect for him.  

He has plenty of experience for a race of this nature and Paul Carberry is a fantastic partner to have.

Selection - THE SAINT JAMES (18/1, Coral

17:15 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1 Standard Open NH Flat Race) (4-6yo, Class 1, 2m 110y, 24 runners)

If Willie Mullins has been dominating at the Festival so far then it could be about to continue and the handler has seven horses going to post for the Bumper.

Bordini (7/1, William Hill) heads the betting for the race and the dual bumper winner boasts the best form for the Irish handler, but WAIT FOR ME (14/1, Ladbrokes) looks a very exciting prospect.

Philip Hobbs’ five-year-old was heavily backed when he made a winning debut at Ascot last month and the way he scored on his first run was mightily impressive.  Cruising throughout the race, he pulled five lengths clear in a steadily run affair and thumped a competitive field in style.

Hobbs is one of the few trainers to have won the final Grade One on day two and although he is considered a very exciting long-term prospect, he could run a huge race at generous odds on Wednesday.

Selection - WAIT FOR ME (14/1, Ladbrokes)

Nick's selections:

13.30 - BEAST OF BURDEN (12/1, Paddy Power)

14.05 - DON POLI (7/4, bet365)

14.40 - ACTIVIAL (8/1, Paddy Power)

15.15 - SPRINTER SACRE (5/2, Ladbrokes)

16.00 - ANY CURRENCY (5/1, Paddy Power)

16.40 - THE SAINT JAMES (18/1, Coral

17.20 - WAIT FOR ME (14/1, Ladbrokes)

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2015 Cheltenham Festival tips - The essential guide to Wednesday's race card

Nick takes a look at Wednesday's card at Cheltenham and gives his tips on every race on the second day of the meeting.

Read more »

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