With the rain that fell yesterday afternoon and all that is expected today, Sams Profile can reverse recent form over Battleoverdoyen when they renew rivalry in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival. The unbeaten Battleoverdoyen is entitled to be vying for favouritism with Champ, but Sams Profile ran on strongly last time after being tapped for toe at a crucial point in the Leopardstown race.
The more testing conditions and stiffer track will play to the strengths of the Mouse Morris-trained runner and he looks a great each-way bet to get punters off to a winning start. Delta Work is quite a warm order to land the Grade 1 RSA Chase and he has obvious claims in his bid to give trainer Gordon Elliott a first win in the race, but he may find Topofthegame a tough nut the crack.
The latter may have a couple of quirks, which for now can be put down to immaturity, but he has bundles of potential and can take the next step in his career today. Just touched off in the Coral Cup at this meeting last year, he made a remarkable chasing debut on his next start, off a nine-month break.
After whipping around at the start and giving away a considerable amount of ground to the opposition, he worked his way back into contention and found only JLT favourite Defi Du Seuil too good. He followed that up by finishing in the same spot behind La Bague Au Roi in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novice Chase on his next start.
He appeals as the type to improve markedly with each experience and can edge out Delta Work. With the softening ground, Joseph O’Brien’s Mortal could run into the frame. It’s almost impossible to oppose Altior in the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase. Nicky Henderson’s horse is seeking an 18th consecutive victory, and two of those were over today’s chief rival, Min.
There have been moments in his career when Altior has looked in trouble, including in this race last year, but inevitably he finds a way to come through unscathed. It may be the same today as the ground could be softer than ideal, but not enough to warrant looking elsewhere. He was seven lengths in front of Min in the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the same distance clear of his old rival in the 2018 Champion Chase.
He can confirm that superiority today, but Min is about as far clear of the remainder as Altior is of him, and thus should complete his hat-trick of runner-up finishes behind the odds-on favourite. Like Altior, Tiger Roll is seeking a fourth Festival success and it’s difficult to look beyond him in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. The Triumph Hurdle, National Hunt Chase and Cross-Country Chase winner won the Aintree Grand National in April and looked every bit as good as ever when bolting up in a Grade 2 at Navan on his most recent start.
That sets him apart from today’s rivals and he can justify favouritism despite ground conditions likely being softer than ideal. Cue Card was the last four-year-old to win the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, but Blue Sari can emulate Colin Tizzard’s horse by taking this afternoon’s finale.
The selection’s trainer, Willie Mullins, has won this race nine times and on the eight occasions which he was solely represented, as he is today, he won the race four times. While there may be reasons for the Closutton trainer having just one runner today, Blue Sari was tremendously impressive on his only start to date and can follow up. Meticulous, trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by champion flat jockey Donnacha, is also worth considering. He was behind Envoi Allen last time but ran an eye-catching race and looks sure to improve.
He, Envoi Allen and Abacadabras are all worth considering in what looks quite a competitive race.