Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
The trio of Ronan Lambe, Dermot Weld and Davy Russell teamed up to scoop the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle with Windsor Park (9/2) in what they will hope to be a sign from the stars that they can do the Gold Cup double with reigning champion Lord Windermere on Friday.
Windsor Park was always prominently ridden by Russell, in the first three the whole way through the race, accompanied by Warrantor (33/1) and Beast of Burden (8/1) in the early stages. He could not be headed as he took the lead from the second-out despite a number of other runners being hot on his heels. His jockey, who picked up his 14th Festival win and second in this race, described him as being ‘class’ and told that he ‘jumped every hurdle very well’.
Vyta Du Roc‘s (15/2) serious error at the final hurdle allowed Parlour Games (13/2), who weaved through the pack from the back of the field, to take second for John Ferugson and AP McCoy and the favourite Nichols Canyon (7/2) to grab third for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.
Our tip Outlander (4/1), another of Mullins’ mounts, was one with a chance in the final straight but failed to pick up to finish sixth.
Not only did Don Poli give Willie Mullins his fifth winner of the 2015 Festival, he gave us our first after we were just squeezed out in the Mares Hurdle yesterday. The Gigginstown Stud charge continued Mullins’ strong record in the race, his fourth success story since 1998, whilst also providing jockey Bryan Cooper with his first winner.
The 13/8 favourite and last year’s Martin Pipe victor allowed nearest market rivals Kings Palace (4/1) and The Young Master (11/2) to dictate the pace throughout the early stages, travelling in pursuit alongside Paul Nicholls’ Southfield Theatre (13/2). The two front-runners were still three lengths better off than the rest of the field with a circuit to go and it didn’t look so good for favourite backers as Don Poli needed some considerable encouragement to keep stalking.
He took the lead four-out thanks to Kings Palace standing off, that the last of a series of jumping errors from the long time leaders. The Gigginstown horse got in close to the penultimate allowing Southfield Theatre back in but extended with ease to claim his six length victory. Wounded Warrior (12/1) snatched third from Adriana Des Mottes (14/1) in a close finish for the final place.
Our first successful tip of the Festival will now be aimed at next year’s Gold Cup, his trainer announcing that he thought the horse was as good as Florida Pearl, his multiple Grade One victor.
Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies managed to get on the board thanks to Aux Ptits Soins (9/1) in the Coral Cup in his first ride in Great Britain. Nicholls picked up his first winner in this race after the horse managed to stay on, beating 25/1 shout Zabana by a neck.
Barizan (66/1) was withdrawn at the start for Brendan Powell, leaving the eventual second to challenge for the pace-setting positions with Shammick Boy (50/1) and Dell’ Arca (16/1).
Whilst Aux Ptits Soins made an error at the second, it certainly wasn’t the worst of the mistakes with Dell’ Arca falling and bringing down Ttebbob (33/1) when still prominent and in with a chance. You could chuck a blanket over the field coming down to the third-out, though Zabana was still looking good to make all before being joined by the eventual winner. Andrew Lynch’s horse just couldn’t battle back before the line.
Activial (17/2) was looking to become only the second winning favourite in the history of the race but had to settle for third whilst our tip Taglietelle (14/1) looked to be out of it early on, dropping back through the field from his established mid-division place. He quickened up in the straight to just miss out on third. A profit for each-way backers nonetheless. Volnay De Thaix (18/1) completed in a distant fifth.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
The big news of the morning was the withdrawal of Champagne Fever from the big race of the day, Willie Mullins’ fancy having been bitten by his travelling mate on his way down to the course.
All the hype concerned two former champions Sire De Grugy (5/2) and Sprinter Sacre (9/4) though neither were involved in the finish of this race as the Queen Mother was scooped by our tip Dodging Bullets (9/2) to record a quick-fire double for Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies. This success justified the trainer’s confidence in him, the Manor Farm man having previously announced that he thought the horse should have been favourite on form. This was reinforced by Ruby Walsh, who would’ve ridden Champagne Fever, saying that he would have liked to have ridden this charge over all of the other entrants.
As expected, Special Tiara (18/1) was eager to establish a break-neck speed and was a good 10 lengths clear with four already jumped. The eventual winner closed up on the long time leader three-out when another former champ, Sizing Europe (22/1), made a noticeable error when tiring.
Dodging Bullets, with Special Tiara on his inside and Somersby (33/1) on his outer, was just the slight leader over the last but managed to hold off challenges from the wily De Bromhead horse and the 11-year-old who was finishing second in this race in consecutive seasons. This was Nicholls’ fifth Queen Mother win since 1999.
Sire De Grugy stayed on for fourth whilst Sprinter Sacre pulled up in the closing stages.
Cross Country Chase
There were plenty stories in the Glenfarcas Cross Country Chase, last season’s runner-up Any Currency (7/1) having to settle for second position again today after being headed by Rivage D’Or (16/1) at the last. This was rider Davey Russell’s second of the day after his ride on Don Poli, that horse also owned by Gigginstown, those behind Rivage D’Or.
Any Currency’s trainer Martin Keighley had previously acknowledged the jeopardy of being up in the weights for this renewal and this may well have contributed to his successive second, being pushed a long from a far way out. Uncle Junior (20/1), the race’s oldest participant at 14-years-old, grabbed third whilst fourth was taken by Dogora (20/1) adding further prize money to the pot of Rich Ricci and Willie Mullins. Dogora’s place also saw Katie Walsh with her second place of the Festival.
The result may have been somewhat different with Quantativeeasing (8/1) going well for the race’s leading jockey Nina Carberry sporting the green and yellow hoops of JP McManus. Her dreams of a fourth winner in the race were scuppered two-out when carried through the running rails by Toutancarmont (9/2) and Jonathan Plouganou.
Our tip Chicago Grey (12/1) received a kick from the eventual second prior to the race and needed to be checked over by the on-course vet. He was eventually cleared to run though a slow start saw him surrender precious ground in the opening stages. The horse failed to recover and made no impression ending up last but one.
Fred Winter Hurdle
If day one of the Festival went to Willie Mullins, day two was one to remember for Paul Nicholls, a winner in the Fred Winter completing his hat-trick of Festival victors on this Ladies Day. The success of Qualando (25/1) also saw the Brit become the first trainer to win multiple Fred Winter titles following his victory in 2010 with Sanctuaire.
The horse was patiently ridden by Nick Schofield in his first winner in the race, stalking a number of prominent runners in Starchitecht (16/1), Arabian Revolution (7/1), Verawal (66/1) and Gwencily Berbas (16/1).
All of these early pace-settlers fell away in the latter stages (apart from Starchitecht who managed to grab the final place position) to allow Qualando to come through with stablemate Bouvreuil (14/1) who followed him home just a length behind in second. You guys got lucky once again as The Saint James, last of all through the opening blows, picked his way through the pack to take third at the nice price of 33/1. This was something Unanimate (12/1), our other fancy, failed to do with any real conviction.
Top weight Golden Doyen (14/1) took a dramatic fall four-out ending the chances of a number of contenders.
It was win number three for our punters as Moon Racer (9/2) secured the Champion Bumper in dramatic fashion after being left flat footed at the beginning of the race by the standing start. Modus (33/1), who finished in second, was another who had to overcome this disadvantage. The win for the favourite was the first in this race for trainer David Pipe and jockey Tom Scudamore as well as being their first winner of the 2015 Festival.
Pylonthepressure, who was fancied in some quarters, was pulled out of the premiere flat race this morning after being found to be lame and left 23 at the starting post for this event.
Henry De Bromhead’s Supasundae (17/2) was prominent throughout still leading the runners through the first half mile. Up For Review (40/1) was also on the premises as was Au Quart De Tour (25/1) and Bordini (7/1). Both our tips Moon Racer and General Principle (9/1) first came into contention trying to close down the leading group at the top of the hill.
The winner kept on to see off Supasundae, who would eventually finish outside of the places, whilst Modus probed but failed to get on terms, behind by a length-and-a-half. The minor places went to Wait For Me (9/1) and Yanworth (16/1), as Willie Mullins with a six strong quiver failed to record even a place. Bellshill came in 10th under Ruby Walsh in what was the County Carlow trainer’s best finisher in the race this year. Vigil (8/1) completed in fifth for the second successive season.
General Principle was back in 11th.
Take a look at all our Cheltenham Festival Day two betting tips today.