Cheltenham Festival News

Cheltenham Festival: Lydia Hislop's top tips for Wednesday

By Lydia Hislop@LydiaHislop
Wed 15 Mar 2023

Award-winning broadcaster and Road To Cheltenham presenter Lydia Hislop shares her best bets for day two of the Cheltenham Festival.

1.30 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 5f

The received wisdom for this race is you need a horse with a turn of foot because, although it’s staged over five furlongs further than the Supreme, it’s most often conducted at a dawdle whereas the shorter race is run at an end-to-end gallop. On Monday’s Live Road To Cheltenham, Ruby Walsh suggested this might be borne of jockeys’ collective first-day regret for going too hard.

Whatever, chuck that idea this time around. The word on the Festival Preview circuit has been that Harry Cobden will go forward with strong stayer Hermes Allen, and Danny Mullins won the Lawlor’s Of Naas on Champ Kiely by going a good pace and then winding it up.

Both Champ Kiely and progressive Gaelic Warrior jump right – respectively, inveterately and chronically – so it will be interesting to see who wins the battle for the inside rail in order to limit those horses’ opportunity to be wayward at their hurdles. And therefore, who’ll also be inconvenienced on their outer…

A strongly run 2m5f raises stamina questions about Gaelic Warrior, so you’d want his rider Patrick Mullins not to have him in the front rank in the likely circumstances.

By contrast, I’m not worried about the staying capabilities of IMPAIRE ET PASSE, this column’s longstanding selection, even though he is yet to race over this far. He also jumps beautifully, displayed a good turn of foot when winning the Grade Two Moscow Flyer last time out, and carries the considerable expectations of being the Closutton Banker on last week’s Preview circuit.

Were an archetypal Ballymore in the offing, I would have been concerned about Nathaniel Lacy winner Good Land dropping down in trip. Instead, he and Hermes Allen rate the main dangers to my selection.

Already advised 19/01/23: Impaire Et Passe 6/1 with various firms.

2.10 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 3m 80y

The recent rain has removed the primary concern about Gerri Colombe, who is unbeaten in all disciplines but has proved especially talented as a chaser. He took a little while to warm up before winning the Grade One Scilly Isles at Sandown last time out, but his stamina then kicked in and he’ll relish this extra half mile. A worthy favourite. It’s interesting to note this will be his first time left-handed over obstacles, so that is at least an unknown.

Whereas this column’s ante-post selection THE REAL WHACKER is well-versed at Cheltenham, having won over this course and distance on chase debut in November and then over shorter on the New Course in a robust time in January, jumping fluently on both occasions. Stepping back up in trip will suit him.

Thunder Rock links those two form-lines and would have been better suited by racing right-handed behind Gerri Colombe than when getting closer, though admittedly gaining cheap late ground, against The Real Whacker. He’ll enjoy being upped in trip, too.

None of Willie Mullins’ five runners really floats my boat. Sir Gerhard has been stepped up in trip because he didn’t jump well enough on his belated chase debut but this race rewards a more rugged profile and there are serious stamina doubts. Adamantly Chosen, Bronn and I Am Maximus aren’t good enough. The first two also go out to their right and the last-named wildly left. It’s possible Ramillies might nick a place – he’ll be staying on.

Former high-class staying hurdler Thyme Hill switched to fences late in life and appeared not to be taking to them until winning the Grade One Kauto Star at Christmas. But that was a weird race in which his rivals – including Galia Des Liteaux – made a catalogue of errors, the runner-up went lame and the time was glacial. The mare then bounced back under an aggressive ride at Warwick and is a player now that the rain has come.

Already advised 05/01/23: The Real Whacker at 12/1 with Paddy Power or Coral.

2.50 Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race - Grade 3) 2m 5f

LANGER DAN has again caught the eye ahead of his Festival date, this time with the Coral Cup in mind rather than the Martin Pipe – in which he finished second to Galopin Des Champs in 2021 (ouch) and was brought down at the second when favourite last year (double ouch). To underline his misfortune, he went on to win at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in April. This season, he has shaped well in all three starts, especially last time out in the Relkeel.

Good Risk At All missed the cut by one for his Festival last term and didn’t see out three miles last time out at Haydock. He’s better judged on his emphatic Carlisle success in October.

Of the Irish challengers, CAPTAIN CONBY looks best. He conceded first run to San Salvador at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve – the only horse to get into the ace at all from rear of mid-division – but is clearly on an upward curve.

Back now: LANGER DAN at 11/1 with Bet365 or William Hill.

Back now: CAPTAIN CONBY at 12/1 with various bookmakers.

3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 99y

For the second year running, an exciting clash in the Clarence House this season has built anticipation for the rematch. On the more testing, less tightly left-handed New Course in January, Niall Houlihan delivered an exquisite ride on Editeur Du Gite to take the notable scalps of EDWARDSTONE and Energumene.

Having gone fast early, then steadied the pace, then kicked but saved enough for his mount to rally at the finish, Houlihan couldn’t have judged it better. He lacks the element of surprise this time, but the defection of Gentleman De Mee due to an infection removes one rival for the pace – albeit recent quick-smart Newbury winner and last year’s runner-up Funambule Sivola and weak-finishing Captain Guinness may be up for it. Nonethless, I expect Editeur Du Gite to run well.

It sounds like Energumene is unlikely to go forward, despite many believing such tactics favour him. His propensity to adjust right at his fences became immaterial when winning this race last year because the race fell apart around him with Shishkin beaten before the first and Chacun Pour Soi unseating.

Yet it was his undoing in January when Edwardstone’s presence on his immediate right at the final fence deprived him the space he needs and forced a chance-ending error. Ruby Walsh rightly argued that chewed-up ground on the inside line on the second day of racing on the Old Course is likely to mean that racing wide is less of a disadvantage. Expect Paul Townend to cede the outside to nobody, perhaps?

Edwardstone was too fresh in January, having not had a race when he needed one at Christmas due to decanting Tom Cannon at halfway in Kempton’s Desert Orchid Chase. That meant Cannon took him further back off Houlihan’s cunning pace and, whilst he was watching Townend, the winner kicked clear.

That Edwardstone was able to make up that much ground that he even briefly headed Editeur Du Gite was impressive. Trainer Alan King was tellingly satisfied in defeat. Previously, his flagship horse had brushed off an improved Greaneteen at the latter’s manor of Sandown in the Tingle Creek. He just wins.

Back now: EDWARDSTONE (nap) at 6/4 or better.

4.10 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f 37y

Gordon Elliott has built a reputation for taking a top-class chaser and reinventing them as a cross-country specialist. This year, he fields GALVIN in the role Delta Work played to the dismay of most of the crowd 12 months ago, when he denied Tiger Roll his fairytale send-off.

Galvin has been freshened up by a spell of dressage, among other distractions, and was brought over to Cheltenham by the Cullentra team for a schooling session over this course earlier this year whilst the sales were on. Delta Work ran creditably here in December but will be favoured at level weights reopposing Back On The Lash and Deisa Aba here.

The party line from the yard is that the recent rain will favour the titleholder over the new challenger, but I’m not so sure. Galvin can bring Davy Russell a surprise 26th Festival winner – if he hasn’t already ridden one on Tuesday – when he was set to watch this year’s meeting in his slippers.

Back now: GALVIN at 5/2 with various bookmakers.

4.50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 62y

My long-term fancy for this race hasn’t made the cut, leaving me scrabbling around for an alternative. I’d love the highly progressive Final Orders to triumph, as he’s been a revelation over fences this season and seeks his sixth straight win.

Last year’s second ANDY DUFRESNE has either had his whole season built around this race, or else is bang out of form, albeit outclassed in graded races prior to predictably hating racing right-handed at Fairyhouse last time out. Both concepts are not mutually exclusive, of course. He wears a first-time tongue-tie here and probably allowed Global Citizen to get away from him before the home turn 12 months ago. I’ve come around to thinking he’s worth a shot.

His owner JP McManus also has novice mare Dinoblue in the line-up, who’s currently trading as favourite and has the potential to improve. The rain has probably helped her, whereas it may count against recent Sandown winner Third Time Lucki. Thyme White, an impressive winner at Ascot in October, has long threatened to have a race like that in him and does go well fresh. Sizing Pottsie is on an attractive mark on his best Irish form but does make errors.

Back now: ANDY DUFRESNE at 6/1 with various bookmakers.

5.30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) 2m 87y

Bumpers are not my bag, so your guess is as good as mine.

The ante-post Road To Cheltenham portfolio:


Advised 01/12/22: Ahoy Senor at 25/1 for the Boodles Gold Cup with various bookmakers.

Advised 14/12/22: Hiddenvalley Lake at 8/1 for the Albert Bartlett with Bet365 or William Hill.

Advised 05/01/23: The Real Whacker at 12/1 for the Brown Advisory with Paddy Power or Coral.

Advised 19/01/23: Impaire Et Passe at 6/1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle with various firms.

Advised 26/01/23: Banbridge each-way at 20/1 for the Sporting Life Arkle with various firms.

Advised 11/03/23: Rare Edition to win the Sky Bet Supreme at 25/1 with various firms


Advised 01/12/22: Noble Yeats at 66/1 for the Boodles Gold Cup with William Hill.

Advised 19/01/23: Corbetts Cross at 25/1 for the Albert Bartlett with Coral or Ladbrokes.

Cheltenham Festival tips for Wednesday:

How To Bet £20 on Wednesday

Dave Nevison's best bets

Lydia Hislop's top tips for day two

The Irish Angle: Johnny Ward's top tips

Placepot picks for Wednesday

Cheltenham Festival: verdicts on key Britain v Ireland clashes

Cheltenham Festival: three runners who stand out on the clock

Cheltenham Festival tips: Harry Allwood's best handicap bets



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