Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival is Ladies’ Day and while some people will be eager to assess the fashion trends (or disasters) on show, for us it’s all about the racing. And what a day of racing action lies before us on the second day of this outstanding feast of equine talent (and we don’t mean in a Findus frozen lasagne kind of way!).
With another three Grade One races on show, with the feature race – the Queen Mother Champion Chase – often proving to be one of the most exciting battles of the whole meeting, read on for the details of every race on the card as we give you some pointers and stats to help you pick your bets ahead of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
13.30 – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
The opening race of Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival is the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle which is run over a distance of two miles and five furlongs and which has 10 hurdles to jump.
Inaugurated in 1971 and registered as the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle (after the wonderful man who organised the first Cheltenham Festival), there have been few long odds winners over the years so sticking to the horses at the top of the betting generally pays off.
Since 1992, all but one winner (the seven-year-old French Holly in 1998) have been aged five or six, and in that time Nigel Twiston-Davies has saddled three winners while Willie Mullins has edged ahead with four.
A well-raced stead who started life in a bumper marks the perfect profile for a potential winner here as the runners seek to emulate the likes of greats such as Istabraq, Hardy Eustace and Simonsig.
For more information check out our Neptune Novices’ Hurdle Betting Tips article
14.10 – RSA Chase
The RSA Chase is the second race – and second Grade One – of the day, and this event for novice staying chasers is always a real test given the distance of three miles and half a furlong and the 19 fences that are to be negotiated. Clearly the ability to stay is paramount, so looking for solid performances over races of distances approaching three miles is always sensible.
With trainers often using this race as a stepping stone towards the big one, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, you are always likely to see some top quality horses on show.
Note that – prior to the 2018 Festival – nine of the last 11 winners have been seven-year-olds, and also, given the testing natures of this one, horses who haven’t run for a while are unlikely to be able to compete.
For more information check out our RSA Chase Betting Tips article
14.50 – Coral Cup Hurdle
The Coral Cup is up next, and though many punters will be keeping their powder dry for the big race that follows, there could be a good reason to get involved here as it usually throws up a decent amount of each way value.
It’s only been run at Cheltenham since 1993 since when the race has been won by four five-year-olds, seven six-year-olds, five seven-year-olds, four eight-year-olds, two nine-year-olds and a 10-year-old. In short: a wide spread!
It’s worth noting that 15 of the 24 winners (prior to the 2018 Festival) carried a weight of less than 11 stone, with nine winners having 10-05 or less. While this two mile, five furlong hurdle is far from predictable, the odds often give enough for you to pick a couple of each way options and to be in with a great chance of making a decent profit.
15.30 – Queen Mother Champion Chase
The big race of the day is the Queen Mother Champion Chase. It has been run since 1959 and has seen some truly outstanding performances from the likes of Badsworth Boy, Moscow Flyer, Master Minded and Sprinter Sacre. Run over the minimum distance for a chase of just two miles, the power and speed on display in this race is quite awe inspiring.
Clean jumping at speed is clearly a pre-requisite for success in this one and horses who have performed well in the Arkle often go on to do well in this one. Horses ridden by Barry Geraghty have won five of the last 15 renewals (prior to the 2018 Festival), while Ruby Walsh has guided three winners in that time.
For more information check out our Champion Chase Betting Tips article
16.10 – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase
This cross country handicap adds something a little different to the Cheltenham Festival and though it has only been running since 2005, it has proved a big hit with the punters. Run over a mammoth distance of three miles and seven furlongs with 32 obstacles to be cleared, this race is one of the most testing of the lot.
When seeking the potential winner, focussing on the runners who’ve performed in the previous course and distance cross country chases (held in November and December) often pays dividends. Add to that the fact that those at the top of the betting tend to perform well, and you should have enough to go on to get close. There is also usually a good dose of each way value available, if that’s what you are looking for.
16.50 – Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle
The Fred Winner Handicap Hurdle – named after the successful jockey and trainer who died in 2004 – is open to four-year-olds only and is run over a distance of two miles and half a furlong with eight hurdles to get over.
Added to the Festival when the fourth day was added in 2005, it is perhaps one of the toughest races to predict given the runners often have little in the way of form to fall back upon.
On the plus side, the bookies often leave room for a fair bit of each way value, but it might be a case of following any late market surges in terms of finding the real contenders for this one.
17.30 – Champion Bumper
The Champion Bumper is the final race of the second day at the Festival and is the only National Hunt flat race of the meeting. This Grade One race, which is run over a distance of two miles and half a furlong, has been a particular favourite of Cheltenham stalwart Willie Mullins, who has saddled an impressive eight winners since it was first run in 1992.
There have been 15 winners aged five years, with three four-year-olds and seven aged six. Really though, we’d be tempted simply to back the best entry from the Mullins stable – a tactic that has often paid off handsomely.