The second day at Cheltenham promises to be another cracker – with Anglo-Irish rivalry right at the top of the agenda.
With all the big hitters fielding big names, let’s go straight in and look at the best bets from the second day at Prestbury Park.
This is another race that promises to be spectacular, especially if all the market principles stand their ground.
The Irish look to have a pretty strong hand in the race with four of the top-five in the market hailing from across the Emerald Isle.
Last year’s Pertemps winner Presenting Percy heads the market at 5/2 and the Patrick Kelly trained seven-year-old looks to be fully deserving of that position based on how easily he won at the Festival last year.
He has had rather a strange prep this year having run over both hurdles and fences. He was last seen when narrowly defeated by leading Gold Cup fancy Our Duke in the Red Mills Chase, and although that was a more than fair effort, it was run on very testing ground – and there must be question marks on whether that race will have left its mark.
Presenting Percy is still the most likely winner and he has course form on his side but the one I’m interested in is Gordon Elliott’s Dounikos at 11/1.
Elliott’s runner has been progressive so far this season, having won twice and his close fourth in the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February gave his supporters plenty of room for optimism.
He was behind both Monalee and Al Boum Photo that day who both line up again here, but the big angle for him to improve past them is better ground.
His form was average at best as a novice hurdler on bad ground, but as a chaser he has yet to run on ground faster than soft-heavy and a sounder surface at Cheltenham could bring out some improvement.
This looks a straight duel between England and Ireland as Nicky Henderson’s Altior takes on the Willie Mullins-trained Min.
Altior, who for many is the best horse in training, is the worthy favourite after his impressive victory at Newbury last month after an extended period off the track due to a wind issue. He is twice a festival winner, including when comprehensively beating his market rival in the Supreme in 2016.
Min has run three times so far this season and he would be three from three had he not been disqualified on his penultimate start.
He was incredibly disappointing that day and a close finish with Simply Ned is hardly the form required to win this calibre of race.
His performance at Leopardstown last time was much more impressive, comfortably winning the Grade Two Dublin Chase by 12 lengths.
These are two very good horses and if they are both on top form, it could be a fantastic watch.
In terms of a betting angle, it’s hard to get away from Altior who on all known form has the measure of his Irish rival. He should take all the beating and can give Henderson a fifth win in the race.