Cheltenham Festival Day Two – Through The Card Selections

Day Two at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival brings with it more joy and cracking contests aplenty. Our Experts have picked out their through the card selections below.

Sir Gerhard (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle)

Both Journey With Me and Stage Star have done very little wrong in victory so far, but SIR GERHARD looks an out of the ordinary horse.

Winner of the Champion Bumper a year ago, he has won his two hurdles starts with the minimum of fuss so far. That included when stepping up to Grade 1 company on his most recent start over two miles.

He did not jump with fantastic fluency that day, although was perhaps more solid on the whole than he was given credit for. Similarly, there could be questions about him stepping up in trip.

However, he won a point to point over three miles and given how he maintained such a strong gallop over two miles, he is more than likely to be able to stay this distance. The Mullins team can kick off day two with victory.

L’Homme Presse (Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase)

Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch have a proper Grade 1 horse with L’HOMME PRESSE.

He started the season in incredibly low key surroundings, winning a handicap at Exeter. However, he has readily improved since, following up at Ascot in a Graduation Chase.

In conjunction with the flying form of Williams’ yard, L’Homme Presse made his Graded level debut at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and duly won well, without being fully extended. If that was not enough, he stepped up to Grade 1 level and won by his greatest margin yet: 21 lengths in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.

His aptitude for Cheltenham is known and he could be even better stepping up to three miles. He looks like he might be out of the very top drawer.

Ashdale Bob (Coral Cup)

Jessica Harrington has not had a particularly great season, with only 14 winners, but her placing of ASHDALE BOB in this race may prove a masterstroke.

He has been competing at Graded level recently, finishing third in the Galmoy Hurdle, conceding 9lb to the winner Royal Kahala and was then second in Navan’s Boyne Hurdle, going down by just a head to Thedevilscaochman, once again under a slight penalty.

He was also a Grade 2 winner as a novice hurdler and it looks to have been a wise decision rerouting him from a novice chase career. A mark of 152 does not look overly harsh on his best form and though this is a tough, big field to cope with for his handicap debut, he could well be up to it.

Shishkin (Queen Mother Champion Chase)

Depending on how day one goes, the pressure on SHISHKIN may be absolutely enormous.

Ireland will inevitably win the Prestbury Cup once again, but the onus is on the Brits to not be annihilated once again, Shishkin, as the one genuine great currently trained on these shores, could be a horse who simply must win to avoid the beating becoming relentless.

He is unbeaten when standing up over obstacles and has a miraculous will to win. That was demonstrated to astounding and dramatic effect in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot when not at his most fluent over his fences.

Energumene set a strong gallop which appeared to have Shishkin in some trouble, but gathered consistently by Nico De Boinville, he flew home, saving his best until the very end. It was spookily reminiscent of recent Seven Barrows alumni Altior, and he has every chance of following in his footsteps.

Prengarde (Cross Country Chase)

As grand as he has been, there have to be a few lingering doubts about Tiger Roll’s ability to perform to his best now that he is aged 12.

Gordon Elliott has provided a number of reports in his favour recently and it would be an emotional end to a remarkable career if he could win this race yet again. However, there is substantial opposition against him.

Easysland has won this in the past, but even taking into account a lack of experience in other British racing, he has looked concerningly lifeless so far for Jonjo O’Neill.

It is another J P McManus runner, PRENGARDE, who was very useful in this sphere in France. He has moved to a master of cross country races in Enda Bolger and could have significant potential as a six-year-old.

Andy Dufresne (Grand Annual)

Unexposed novices and Graded horses hiding in handicaps are the profiles to look out for in such races as the Grand Annual. ANDY DUFRESNE is in the latter category.

He also remains a horse with great potential, as though he is a second season chaser, he has only had five chase starts. The first two of those were successful at Wexford and Navan, though he ended his novice career well beaten or pulled up in Grade 1 company.

However, that was over 2m4f, which looks now to have been unsatisfactory. He reappeared in Grade 3 company, but ran well to be second to Captain Guiness, a genuine Graded level horse.

He was conceding the winner 7lb too and can clearly go well fresh. The fact he has been off since November is therefore no barrier to his chances.

American Mike (NAP) (Champion Bumper)

There have been some good looking types in this year’s bumper, with Facile Vega’s breeding another thing many punters have latched onto.

He looked extremely useful at Leopardstown, but so too has AMERICAN MIKE and there is even reason to believe his form is stronger. The two are growing closer in the market all the time.

After winning as he liked at Down Royal on debut, he then won a Listed Navan bumper at absurd odds of 1/8. However, that form has gone on to be far better than it could have looked at the time. He won by 17 lengths on the bridel, with runner-up Battling Bessie going on to be beaten a short head in the Grade 2 mares’ bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Facile Vega’s runner-up at leopardstown was subsequently beaten at odds-on next time out. They look the two class horses, with Redemption Day also in the mix.