Paul Nicholls stated in the Cheltenham Preview this week that he feels Stage Star is one of his best chances of the week, and I have to agree with that statement. This horse has gone slightly under the radar this season due to the Irish contingency being the main talking point of this race, but I feel Stage Star has a thoroughly good chance in this race. He is currently unbeaten over hurdles this season, winning at Chepstow and Newbury twice, including the Grade 1 Challow Novices Hurdle last time out, winning by just under 7 lengths. He jumped like a professional and really glided across the softer conditions with connections being very happy with how he performed after the race. It looks as if the softer conditions won’t be there for Festival week, but he did win on good ground back on his hurdling debut last October, so the current forecasted conditions won’t be an issue, but they might not be so ideal further down the line. Stage Star has taken the same route as stable star Bravemansgame this season and looks to do so next season when tackling fences, as connections feel he will be an even better horse over the larger obstacles. He is already a Grade 1 winner this season and will arrive at the Ballymore very fresh which is something his trainer commented on saying it is a good point as he is a big raw horse, also whenever champion trainer Paul Nicholls says this is his best chance of the week, that has to be taken seriously.
This horse trained by Gordon Elliott was an interesting prospect coming into this season, only lightly raced over bumpers last season with just the two runs including a fourth-place finish in the Champion Bumper at the Festival, he certainly had a few intrigued eyes on him going into this season. He has had just the three starts over obstacles this season, winning by 6 lengths on debut at Fairyhouse last November, before taking the step up in grade on his next two runs, which happened to be Grade 1’s, where he finished 1 and a half length 2nd to Mighty Potter (Supreme Horse) in December and then 6 lengths behind Sir Gerhard (Favourite for this race) last month. Both horses take the step up in trip for this race, which leaves question marks for both, but I think it will suit Three Stripe Life better, he was always running on in the Champion Bumper last season and in his previous race, he has stamina in his pedigree, so the extra few furlongs and Cheltenham Hill won’t be an issue. His trainer has come out stating he is doing really well at home and will come on for the further trip, which he has in this.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 1 👇🏼
One of the stars of the Novice Chasing season, Bravemansgame has come on leaps and bounds this season since switching to the larger obstacles, and Paul Nicholls is very confident in his chances of winning at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday. The 7yo is currently four for four over fences, landing the Grade 2 Kauto Star Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day beating Ahoy Senor by 7 and a half lengths, but arguably put up his career best performance last time out. That was just in a Handicap at Newbury, but he was carrying well over a stone in weight compared to his other rivals (because he was by far the highest rated horse, he had to carry plenty of weight compared to his other rivals) and even over a stone and a half to two of the other runners but jumped like a real professional and didn’t let that bundle of weight get the better of him. He made all that day, jumping slightly out to the right on the odd occasion but did really well to put the race to bed when two jumps out, to then go on and win by just over 3 lengths. That was a superb display, and he has been compared to some of the greats by his trainer Paul Nicholls, so he has to be taken seriously in this race.
Probably not going to be off at a big each way price, but I feel the top 3 or 4 in the market will be incredibly hard to beat, either to win or getting in the placings. The Venetia Williams horse is another one to come on wonders this season, winning all four of his runs by a combined 50 lengths, which in simple terms is half of any track. His career best performance to date was last time out in the Scilly Isles at Sandown, jumping with absolute ease, to then pull away from 2 jumps out, to win eased down and claim a first Grade 1 success for jockey Charlie Deutsch. That was a superb performance from him that day, really stamping his authority on this festival meeting. The way he went about it last time out, the step up to 3 miles in this from 2 miles 4 furlongs will suit as he is the typical Venetia Williams staying type, he is interesting and certainly one of the main protagonists for the UK this year, at a track he has already won at this season.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 2 👇🏼
Trainer Dan Skelton has always outlined a tilt at the Coral Cup for this horse and he stated recently that usually the winner of these sort of races is a Graded type of horse running in a handicap. Dan and his team think a lot of this horse and they think he will run well in this before trying to land some black type to his name later on in his career. Unexpected Party has run eight times in his career, all of them coming over Hurdles, with two wins to his name so far. He was very unlucky not to make it three wins when finishing second at Wetherby over Christmas, stable jockey Harry Skelton came out and criticised his ride saying he would love to do it over again to get his horse in a better position and win. They certainly put that right next time out however when contesting in a Class 2 Handicap Hurdle off the rating of 130, travelling strongly whilst jumping well, to win very comfortably by just over 4 lengths. He certainly looked like a horse that is carrying a low rating, which the handicapper has looked to sort with a 12lb rise to a new rating of 142, but with the manner that he won last time out suggests he could be a Graded horse running in a handicap and even now, his current mark is very winnable. Dan Skelton and his yard have had a few handicap winners at the festival in previous years, so he will look to get another one on the board with Unexpected Party.
This horse trained by Willie Mullins hasn’t been seen since contesting in a red-hot Grade 1 at Punchestown back in April of last year, which speaks wonders as his trainer thought of him as a possible Graded horse. Now unfortunately the form doesn’t read well, as he did fall late on, but that was at the last flight when he was stalking the leaders in behind, he was in the process of running a huge race at fairly big odds. Now he has the 11 months break to overcome, but Willie Mullins’s horses normally do run well after a break, so there shouldn’t be any issues there, and the yard are currently operating at a 42%-win strike rate, which is fantastic. Judging by his run last time out in a Grade 1 I think he looks chucked in here and at decent odds in a usual wide-open race, it’s worth chancing it, especially when it comes to a Willie Mullins horse.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 3 👇🏼
This for many racing fans is the race of the festival week, the main two protagonists in the market have already produced a phenomenal clash at Ascot back in January, something that will live long in the memory for the thousands in attendance that day, as it really was a clash for the ages, stated as one of the best races in decades. Ever since that race it’s been discussed what the Irish horse can do to beat Shishkin in the Champion Chase, but the answer is nothing. Shishkin was the superior horse at Ascot that day and at a track he has won at previously in Cheltenham, he will be the superior horse again. He was the Supreme winner back in 2020, and the Arkle winner last year, where he romped home by 12 lengths. He has that unusual blend of speed and staying ability, something that is reminiscent of a former horse trained by Nicky Henderson Altior, a horse who won 19 races consecutively, the record for most wins for a jumps horse. A lot of people are comparing Shishkin to Altior and Sprinter Sacre, another top 2-mile horse trained by Nicky Henderson, and in some people’s view, Shishkin could easily be better than the pair of them as he looks unbeatable. He is two for two at Cheltenham and his running style will suit that track a lot more than his rivals, making him the class act for the second day of the festival.
Last year’s winner Put The Kettle On hasn’t exactly hit top form since her triumphant win in the Champion Chase last year, with this year’s race being considerably harder she might be up against it, but there have been excuses for previous bad runs made by her trainer Henry De Bromhead, and she has been freshened up by having a break for a tilt at the ace again this year. She was brilliant in this race last season, beating the fast-firing Nube Negra by half a length staying on stoutly up the Cheltenham hill. She currently has a brilliant record at Cheltenham, with form figures of 11113 including two festival wins. As previously mentioned, she hasn’t exactly been in great form recently, but she evidently loves Cheltenham and has provided some fantastic memories for connections there, if she is back on song, she could be hard to beat providing she can get in from coming up the straight.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 4 👇🏼
It has been confirmed by trainer Gordon Elliott and owner Eddie O’Leary that this will be the swan song for dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll, who has such a following and an even better CV, with 5 Cheltenham Festival wins to his name as he looks to make it six with his last ever career run this year. The form to his name isn’t exactly much to look at, but that was part of the plan by the yard to hopefully get him a lower mark for the Grand National this year to give him a great chance, running him in hurdle and chase races that didn’t suit the horse trip wise, but that didn’t go to plan as they weren’t happy with the final weight, he got for this year’s Grand National. Which is a shame for racing fans to not see him go for three, but at least we get to see him one final time at the home of the jumps racing, a race that he has won previously in incredible fashion, including a 22-length romp back in 2019. He may not have the legs of old, but one thing for sure is that Gordon Elliott will have him primed and as ready to go as possible, as he loves the horse. He deserves to retire via the winner’s enclosure, so I’m sure there will be a lot of people cheering him home on the day.
A horse that his trainer Richard Bandey absolutely adores, and thinks will go very well in this race, has already won at Cheltenham twice in his career, once for current trainer and once for previous trainer when being trained in France. It was his performance last time out that really caught the eye for many, when running in the Cross-Country Chase back in December last year. He jumped well but was outpaced when lining up to the home straight, not looking like the winner at all, but he stayed on brilliantly up the Cheltenham Hill to get past the post in front, winning by a nose. He has the main trait required for this race, he stays, and that’s all you can ask for in this 3-mile 6-furlong war of attrition race.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 5 👇🏼
This is such a wide-open race this year with the outsider of the field currently being no bigger than 33/1, showing that every horse currently declared to line up could run well or win the race. Paul Nicholls has two lining up in this race and currently has Bryony Frost booked to ride Thyme White who is unlucky to not have two chase wins to his name in just three starts over the larger obstacles. He was second on Chase debut back at Wincanton last November, only beaten by just under 2 lengths, after a few novice jumps, and then went on to unfortunately unseat at the first at Ascot last December, so it’s obviously hard to gauge how he would have got on that day. But it was his run last time out that really puts him firmly in the picture for this race on day 2 of the Festival, running at Doncaster giving his rivals a trouncing to win with ease by just under 5 lengths. He was keen again that day, but his jumping was much better, and couldn’t have won any easier. He has gone up 8lbs in the weights but is pretty much on the rating he was when running over hurdles (Horses have different ratings for hurdles and fences) but looking at the manner he won last time out, that mark does look very winnable.
The Colin Tizzard charge looks somewhat resurgent this season, winning his last two runs after not being seen in the winner’s enclosure since January 2019. The Tizzard team are in much better form this season, which could be the reason why this horse has got back to winning form recently, winning at Plumpton and Kempton by a combined 14 lengths. He doesn’t particularly look like a natural chaser in the jumping department, but he certainly has a very good engine, which he showed last time out when hitting through the second to last fence, which for most horses would cut their chances of winning the race, but he gathered up brilliantly to win easily by 13 lengths. He is improving with each run over fences, so he will run well in this race, at a track he has won at two times over hurdles previously a few years back (Form figures of 62117 at Cheltenham).
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 6 👇🏼
Willie Mullins has a very good record in this race, like a lot of the races come festival week, and this year is the same as all the others. There are two very nice-looking prospects at the head of the market, both trained by two of Ireland’s best trainers, but Facile Vega is the one I fancy to win the last race of day two at the Cheltenham Festival. He was absolutely electric when winning at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, looking to slightly be in trouble coming around the home bend, but that trouble was soon put to bed when Patrick Mullins popped Facile Vega the question, and he flew down the straight like a bullet out of a gun, to the point where his trainer who has been in the game for a very long time, with plenty of top class horses stated it was one of the best bumper performances he has seen, that surely counts for something. He has won both of his bumpers by a combined 18 lengths on ground varying from soft to yielding, He looks a very good prospect going forward and vibes coming from the yard are that he could be very special going forward. He is the horse a lot of racing fans are looking forward to seeing run next week.
Willie Mullins looks to have a stronghold on this race yet again, as he lines up with seven runners in the hottest and most exciting race of the festival, as it usually brings up a fantastic prospect for the years ahead. Although the two main ones in the market look to be potential superstars, one of the Mullins horses has gone slightly under the radar. Nothing went right for James’s Gate in his only bumper start at Punchestown last month, where he was forced to race wide all the way around, and was constantly harassed up front by other horses, causing him to run keenly, but that didn’t stop him as he couldn’t have won any more impressively. He basically made all, and when asked by Patrick Mullins, he absolutely flew down the home straight, keeping on strongly all the way to the line, to win by 8 lengths. Considering it was his first day on a racecourse, he did exceptionally well against other horses with more experience. I expect him to come on for the run and the Cheltenham hill doesn’t look to be an issue, no matter the outcome of this race, he is an exciting horse to keep an eye on going forward for the future.
Jake has picked out the following bets for final Race 👇🏼
Sign up to Paddy Power and get a full refund if your first bet loses. Grab an account through the offer below and place up to £30 on any horse on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival. Here are the possible outcomes if you if you back any horse on Day 2:
Or you get your £30 stake back as cash
18+ please gamble responsibly. All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing.
📅 When is Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival? / Wednesday, 16th March from 12:50pm
🏟 Where is Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival? / Cheltenham Racecourse
📺 What TV channel is Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival? / ITV & STV