Michael Fortune’s top tips and best bets for Cheltenham Festival Day 2

All eyes on Douvan today

All eyes on Douvan today

Our expert guides you through Champion Chase day with his full breakdown on the all the best selections for Day 2 of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

The term Banker Of The Meeting has so often proved to be a millstone around a horse’s neck but it will require something akin to a fall or a bolt of lightning to prevent Douvan from winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday. 

This Walk In The Park gelding is a freak that only comes along once in a blue moon. It is amazing that he matured in the company of other freaks like the ill-fated Vautour and the unlucky Faugheen, not to mention a mare by the name of Annie Power. 

DAY 2 RACECARD

1.30 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2m 5f)
2.10 RSA Chase (3m 110y)
2.50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (2m 5f)
3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (2m)
4.10 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3m 6f)
4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2m 110y)
5.30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (2m 110y)

He could also be compared with a predecessor in the two-mile brigade, Sprinter Sacre. When he lines up for the big race at 3.30pm on Wednesday he will be by far the shortest priced favourite of the week. 

Douvan was introduced to Irish racing at Gowran Park in November 2014 and he strolled through the soft ground to win by a dozen lengths from Sizing John. Amazingly, the runner-up in that Santa Train at Gowran Novice Hurdle will be one of the top four in the betting for the Gold Cup on Friday.  What odds about two such brilliant performers turning up in the same modest novice hurdle? 

Anyway, that was the first of Douvan’s 13 races to date and he hasn’t had to break sweat on any occasion! He has been an odds-on favourite on 11 of those 13 starts and sometimes virtually unbackable. 

He settles brilliantly, jumps fences like a stag and moves through his races like the absolute machine that he undoubtedly is. Barring an accident, he will be crowned Champion Chaser on Wednesday and then Willie Mullins, Rich Ricci and Ruby Walsh will start seriously thinking about the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup!  

TOP TIPS

1.30 – 1 NEON WOLF; 2 Bacardys, 3 Bon Papa
2.10 – 1 ACAPELLO BOURGEOIS; 2 Alpha Des Obeaux, 3 Whisper
2.50 – 1 TOMBSTONE; 2 Mister Miyagi, 3 Peregrine Run
3.30 – 1 DOUVAN; 2 Special Tiara, 3 Top Gamble 
4.10 – 1 CANTLOW; 2 Cause Of Causes, 3 Auvergnat 
4.50 – 1 DIVIN BERE; 2 Prospectus, 3 Long Call
5.30 – 1 CARTER MCKAY; 2 Someday, 3 Cause Toujours

Is he a freak or was it a fluke? That question has been posed many times since Acapello Bourgeois decimated his rivals in the three-mile Grade 2 Ten Up Chase at Navan. 

It was the most extraordinary performance we have seen in a long time and Roger Loughran never had to move a muscle. He jumped from fence to fence and his rivals were drunk in behind as he won by a quite awesome 32 lengths from Road To Respect. 

It was only Acapello Bourgeois’ 11th race and was his fifth career victory. Sandra Hughes has always held him in huge regard and he is now really living up to that rating.

Can he dictate the running in such a manner in the RSA Chase with the likes of Might Bite, Alpha Des Obeaux, Whisper and Disko among the opposition?  

He gets the nod to win from Alpha Des Obeaux and Whisper.

It would be ironic if, in the wake of the Gigginstown outrage following the handicapping of their horses for the Aintree National, if their Tombstone proved to be the best handicapped horse of the week in the Coral Hurdle. 

This lightly raced animal was a very decent fourth behind Altior, Min and Buveur D’Air in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and he was having only his second race since when beating Jezki in the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran. 

That prompted connections to aim for the Champion Hurdle but then the weights came out for the Coral Hurdle and that is Tombstone’s target. Let’s say, he looks very well treated!  

BEST BETS: 
1.30 Neon Wolf
2.10 Acapello Bourgeois 
2.50 Tombstone
5.30 Carter McKay

 

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