CHELTENHAM DAY 2
HERMES ALLEN can end up a much bigger price than anticipated at 7/2 for the Ballymore (1.30pm), and probably to a point where he needs to be backed. For a long time the clear favourite for this, he has been usurped not by the exploits of others, but by the connections of his rivals talking up their chances. It is entirely feasible that Impaire et Passé, for example, could be a superstar and we know that Good Land is a good horse at least. But, unfashionable though British form is (understandably), the Challow has worked out a treat – and Hermes Allen demolished them with a display of super slick jumping in bad ground. This may be much more of a test than often is the case, and that will play to his strengths.
GALIA DES LITEAUX now looks the answer to the Brown Advisory (2.10pm) at 13/2. There were perfectly reasonable excuses for her poor performance at Christmas, one which she consigned to the bin with a tremendous display at Warwick. It’s worth remembering she beat Complete Unknown (very useful) and The Goffer (likewise) by half the track in testing conditions and this generally good jumper can make her mares’ allowance tell in testing conditions.
BEACON EDGE and ICARE ALLEN are two that I like in the Coral Cup (2.50pm) at 14/1and 28/1 respectively. The first named is in a handy spot in the handicap now, having spent his life knocking heads with Grade One horses. He likes a spot of soft ground and the booking of Michael O’Sullivan is a plus. Icare Allen just looks a bit big for these connections in light of his Triumph Hurdle fourth and his good run at Christmas. His Betfair run is a strike out, as he hated the ground and never got competitive, but the handicapper has sliced a chunky four pounds off, which looks rather generous.
EDWARDSTONE has been my pick for the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30pm) for a long time now, but confidence is ebbing a shade with the weather. Still, I need to hold firm to my belief that he’s the best horse in the race and at 6/4 can confirm his superiority over Energumene.
SNOW LEOPARDESS looks a monstrously big price at 20/1 in the Cross Country (4.10pm) and, for all my massive respect for Delta Work in these conditions, the selection will also love the rain that has fallen. I thought she ran more than respectably over these fences the first time – indeed, she might have really enjoyed it given how much sweeter she then raced when just touched off at Haydock. This much greater test of stamina could easily sneak her into the frame at good odds.
GLOBAL CITIZEN can make a very bold bid for the double in the Grand Annual (4.50pm) at 14/1. He’s just three pounds worse with Andy Dufresne from last year’s race, but beat that horse pretty comprehensively and is five times the price. He’s not really had any proper races over fences since and, if he’s tuned up fully from his recent spin over hurdles, could get freewheeling on the front end again on ground that he’ll love.
A DREAM TO SHARE may be somewhat compromised by softer ground, but he was so impressive at Leopardstown I’ll take him to collect again at 7/2, notwithstanding his rider’s inexperience (5.30pm). I’ve not been wild about any of the Mullins horses, and the team seem a little unclear as to which is the best, though Fun Fun Fun might take the biggest step forward. I won’t leave this race alone completely until I’ve also had a little each-way on FAVOUR AND FORTUNE, who was really impressive under a penalty at Warwick, when his rider could hardly pull him up after. He’s a strong, impressive type of horse, who could handle the hustle and bustle of this quite well at 28/1.