Alex Hammond blog: Cheltenham Festival day two tips with Nicky Henderson and Shishkin chasing Champion Chase glory | Racing News


Sky Sports Racing’s Alex Hammond offers her analysis and selections for day two of the Cheltenham Festival, including an epic clash in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle gets us underway on Wednesday. Sir Gerhard has this option as well as the Supreme and last year’s Champion Bumper winner will be popular if he rocks up here.

Dysart Dynamo also comes into calculations should Willie send him here rather than for Tuesday’s contest. It’s a guessing game at this stage, but those two are top of the list if lining up.

On to the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (that’s the old RSA if, like me, you still can’t get your head around the Brown Advisory/Turners chat just yet). I’m all in with Bravemansgame here for Paul Nicholls.

His trainer compared him favourably to the mighty Denman and that’ll do for me. He’s a big lump of a horse, who is only just starting to hit his stride at the age of seven, in what will hopefully be a long and fruitful career.

Maybe we should be looking at the 12/1 with Sky Bet for next year’s Gold Cup, but the 7/4 he is for this race will do for now; I’m not greedy.

Champion Chase returning to the UK?

The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase looks like one for Britain. Anything other than a win for Shishkin here will be disappointing for me. Nicky Henderson’s latest two-mile machine didn’t do everything right when beating Energumene in the Clarence House Chase but still came out on top.

There are a handful of occasions that you are lucky enough to say you were there to witness sporting excellence and to be at Ascot when those two faced-off was special. The way Shishkin fought back to reel in Energumene was spine tingling, and I hope he stamps his authority on this field again.

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Top trainer Willie Mullins speaks exclusively to Sky Sports Racing on his leading contenders for the Cheltenham Festival this year.

I was at Doncaster last year when he won the Lightning Novices’ Chase and had the temerity to suggest he didn’t knock my eye out physically. Whether I was right or wrong to be underwhelmed that day is irrelevant really, it’s all about opinions, but he looked like a beast at Ascot and this lad sure has blossomed for another summer on his back.

What a racehorse.

Fond farewell for Tiger Roll

We are bidding a fond farewell to Tiger Roll win lose or draw after the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. All the shenanigans surrounding his participation in the Grand National is water under the bridge now, so let’s just celebrate this wonderful little horse.

His Cheltenham exploits began in 2014 with a win in the Triumph and his festival record stands up to pretty close scrutiny since.

He was well beaten in the World Hurdle a year later, he bypassed the festival in 2016, subsequently won the National Hunt Chase (2017) and has since won the 2018, 2019 and 2021 editions of this cross-country chase and was runner-up in 2020 for good measure.

It would be wonderful to see him bow out in a blaze of glory, albeit in a race that is more novelty than national.

Vega to bring up the dozen for Mullins

The Wetherbys Champion Bumper has been won by Willie Mullins an incredible eleven times (he also rode his first winner Wither or Which). I think he’ll make it twelve with Facile Vega.

This horse is the son of the mighty Quevega, but unlike his diminutive mother, is a big strapping type, with an engine to match hers.

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Trainer Lucinda Russell is very excited to see Ahoy Senor take on Bravemansgame in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next week and prove himself as a ‘champion’.

At the prices though it might be worth keeping Redemption Day on side for his all-conquering trainer as he apparently does little wrong at home.

American Mike is the other protagonist in the bumper and brings an unbeaten record to the race too. Trainer Gordon Elliott called him a “proper horse” after his second win under rules and sends him straight here rather than taking in the Dublin Racing Festival en-route. It should be a cracking contest to sign off day two.

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