You won’t get rich, but don’t oppose Altior and Tiger Roll

Provided it gets the go-ahead, day two of Cheltenham will see two three-time heroes go in search of a fourth Festival success and it’ll rank as a massive surprise if Altior and Tiger Roll fail to oblige.

You won’t get rich, but don’t oppose Altior and Tiger Roll

Provided it gets the go-ahead, day two of Cheltenham will see two three-time heroes go in search of a fourth Festival success and it’ll rank as a massive surprise if Altior and Tiger Roll fail to oblige. Altior contests the feature, the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, a race he won in ultimately decisive fashion off the back of a troubled build-up last year.

Things have run far smoother this season, Nicky Henderson’s charge winning the Tingle Creek at Sandown, the Desert Orchid at Kempton, and the Clarence House at Ascot to take his unbeaten sequence to 17, one short of the modern-day record of 18 set by four-time Stayers’ Hurdle hero Big Buck’s.

That he jumped markedly to his left at times at Ascot is a slight concern, but connections seem unperturbed by that and, while he will probably frighten his supporters by hitting a flat spot at some point, the confident expectation is he’ll power clear of old rival Min up the hill.

Like Altior, nobody will get rich backing Tiger Roll, but it will be a huge shock if the Grand National hero fails to retain the Glenfarclas Chase. After yesterday’s rain, conditions will be softer than ideal for Gordon Elliott’s charge, but soft ground didn’t stop him last year and the manner of his victory in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan last month suggests he remains as good and as enthusiastic as ever. He should take the world of beating.

The race of the day is the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase, a contest featuring three rising stars in Delta Work, Santini, and Topofthegame who could potentially be major players in next year’s Gold Cup. Given the uncertainty surrounding Santini following his 11th-hour injury scare, it’s understandable support for Delta Work has hardened in the market in recent days.

Gordon Elliott’s charge won the Pertemps Hurdle at last year’s Festival and is unbeaten in three starts over fences, two at the highest level. A bold bid seems certain but the way Santini stayed on in the final stages to finish a closing third to La Bague Au Roi and Topofthegame in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton suggests this assignment will be right up his street.

The stiff finish and recent rain should see him turn the tables on Topofthegame and he may be able to outstay Delta Work. Elliott and Henderson are also on a collision course in the opening race, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Named after the legendary AP McCoy, the Henderson-trained Champ has lived up to his name this season, winning both starts. However, the form of his victory in the Grade One Challow Hurdle hasn’t stood up and his eagerness to get on with things could prove his undoing in testing conditions.

That being the case, preference is for Elliott’s Battleoverdoyen, who is unbeaten in three starts this season, most recently scoring a Grade One success at Naas in January. He looks a top-class prospect in the making and is fancied to take another step in that direction today. Elliott can also provide the answer in the finale, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, where Envoi Allen is fancied to land the spoils.

Like Battleoverdoyen, Envoi Allen brings impeccable credentials to the table having followed up a point-to-point victory 13 months ago with three bumper successes this season. As a consequence, he boasts an edge over most of today’s rivals in terms of experience, an advantage that will add his cause this afternoon.

As for the handicap action, Uradel hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Coral Cup but, given reasonable luck in running, the Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old looks sure to go well, while Chief Justice gets a tentative vote in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

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