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The Guardian

Cheltenham Festival day two tips: Energumene can prove Champion

By Greg Wood,

2023-03-14
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Paul Townend celebrates victory on Energumene in last year’s Champion Chase at Cheltenham. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Energumene was an odds-on shot for Wednesday’s Champion Chase before running the only sub-par race of his career last time out and he appeals as an excellent bet at around 7-4 to win the two-mile chasing championship for the second year running.

Willie Mullins’s chaser appeared to be ridden to beat Edwardstone, his main market rival on Wednesday, in the Clarence House Chase at the end of January at Cheltenham, and also did himself no favours with a blunder at the last.

Related: Cheltenham Festival 2023: Constitution Hill goes for glory in Champion Hurdle – live

His earlier form puts him a few pounds in front of Edwardstone and Editeur Du Gite, who fought out a close finish in the Clarence House. With more positive tactics likely to be deployed this time, Energumene (3.30) and Paul Townend should set the record straight in the feature event of the day.

Cheltenham 1.30 The money says one thing in the opening race on day two, with Mullins’s Impaire Et Passe firmly installed as market leader after sustained support in recent days. The form book suggests another as the win by Hermes Allen in the Challow Hurdle in January is the best on offer. The time was strong too, even though Harry Cobden was able to ease down in the closing stages, and the runner-up franked the form in a Grade Two next time.

Cheltenham 2.10 Sir Gerhard will complete a remarkable treble if he can add a Grade One chase to his previous Festival wins in the Bumper (2021) and Ballymore Hurdle (2022), but it could prove a step too far if Gerri Colombe runs up to his best. Gordon Elliott’s chaser remains unbeaten after seven starts under Rules and looks tailor-made for this step up to three miles, having stayed on strongly up the hill to beat Balco Coastal in the Grade One Scilly Isles Novice Chase last month.

Cheltenham 2.50 All but a handful go to post with a chance and at least a dozen – including the likely favourite, Run For Oscar – will have been trained solely with this race in mind. Good Risk At All has often looked likely to be suited by this kind of test, but marginal preference is for Joseph O’Brien’s San Salvador, who was put away after showing a good turn of foot to win at Punchestown in December. He is closely matched with Captain Conby, who is shorter in the market, on that form, but was always finding enough in front and looks the pick of the prices at around 16-1.

Cheltenham 1.30 Hermes Allen (nb) 2.10 Gerri Colombe 2.50 San Salvador (nap) 3.30 Energumene 4.10 Delta Work 4.50 Dads Lad 5.30 Encanto Bruno

Huntingdon 1.50 Not Another Muddle 2.30 Moore Margaux 3.10 Feel Good Inc 3.50 Corey’s Courage 4.30 Enduring Love 5.10 Rock On Tommy 5.50 Westerninthepark

Newcastle 5.05 Land Legend 5.40 Arabian Storm 6.15 Mintnthat 6.45 Grand Libya 7.15 Walking On Clouds 7.45 South Dakota Sioux 8.15 Paddy K

Kempton 6.00 Maasai Mara 6.30 Woodstock 7.00 Brave Emperor 7.30 First Emperor 8.00 Hannah’s Return 8.30 Where’s Tom

Cheltenham 4.10 Delta Work spoiled the farewell party for the great Tiger Roll in this race last year and looks sure to take all the beating again. Galvin, a stable companion at the Elliott yard, is also top-class on his day, but may need at least one sighter to get to grips with this unique test.

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