SHISHKIN has everything in his favour to make it a third successive victory at the Cheltenham Festival by capturing today’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. The winner of the Supreme Hurdle two years ago and last year’s Arkle Chase at the Festival, SHISHKIN (3.00, nap, ITV) has yet to be beaten in his seven outings over fences.This talented individual showed his undisputed superior class when chinning Energumene at Ascot in the Clarence Huse Chase where he overcame some indifferent jumping and a dislike for going right-handed.
Connections of Energumene admitted they would struggle to turn the tables at Cheltenham where Shishkin is clearly in his element.To add another plus, the gelding’s trainer Nicky Henderson has won today’s prize a record-equalling six times, along with Paul Nicholls and Tom Dreaper.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls, a notable absentee from the winner’s enclosure at last year’s Festival, can make up for that disappointment by celebrating with Bravemansgame in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. Nicholls has made no secret of how highly he rates BRAVEMANSGAME (2.10, nb, ITV), the impressive winner of all of his four races over fences. He had a simple task on his latest outing when slamming Pats Fancy at Newbury last month but a more informative guide to his ability was on his penultimate run when beating Ahoy Senor at Kempton.
Ahoy Senor highlighted that form when cruising to victory on his next outing at Wetherby last month. Of the Irish runners, Capodanno represents the biggest threat having chased home the smart Bob Olinger at Punchestown in January.
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Willie Mullins, responsible for Capodanno, can kick off the meeting in style by taking the Ballymore Hurdle with SIR GERHARD (1.30, ITV). The winner of last season’s Champion Bumper has impressed in his two hurdle races, winning twice at Leopardstown.
Impressive Ascot winner GOOD RISK AT ALL (2.50, ITV) has the ability to defy his 10lb rise in the weights. He came home with more than stone in hand on that occasion and his trainer, Sam Thomas suggested at the time the gelding is still well-handicapped.
With ground conditions in his favour, TIGER ROLL (4.10, ITV) is expected to sign off his remarkable career, that included two Grand National victories, by taking the Glenfarclas Chase for the third time. This remarkable character, successful ve times at the Festival, is absolutely ying in his homework according to his trainer Gordon Elliott.
The decision by the connections of EDITEUR DU GITE (4.50, treble) bypass the Champion Chase in favour of the Grand Annual Chase can be rewarded. The gelding has an excellent record at the track where he has won both of his two starts in the manner of a progressive individual. Admittedly he is now creeping up the weights, 8lb higher for his latest success, but further improvement is expected from the Gary Moore- trained eight-year-old.
Thyme White, trained by Nicholls, is the one to chase him home. The Ditcheat master is bullish about his chances. Nicholls believes he is now weighted to turn the tables on Amarillo Sky (now 7lb worse off), who beat him at Newbury, as he was far from fully t on that occasion.
The betting and the performances on the track suggest FACILE VEGA (5.30) has everything in his favour to give his trainer, Willie Mullins, a remarkable record 12 winners in the Champion Bumper. However, the betting in this contest has not always been the informative guide for the Mullins runners.
In the past, they have landed the contest with their outsiders. It makes sense to have a saver on the stable’s other runners, James’s Gate, Madmansgame, Redemption Day and Viva Devito.
Cheltenham tips – Day two
1.30 Sir Gerhard
2.10 BRAVEMANSGAME (nb)
2.50 Good Risk At All
3.30 SHISHKIN (nap)
4.10 Tiger Roll
4.50 EDITEUR DU GITE
5.30 Facile Vega