Nico looks ahead to day 2 of Cheltenham – so how does he see the day panning out?
Like most it seems, I am a big fan of Neon Wolf, who I thought looked very good when beating Elgin easily at Haydock and that form stacks up with some of the best novice form around. At a bigger price I would give Willoughby Court an each-way chance; I rode him to win at Southwell and when fifth in the Aintree bumper last season, and he looked very good when beating a subsequent winner in Gayebury in a Grade 2 at Warwick in January. That was on soft ground but I think he will handle the better conditions here okay.
Everyone seems to hate Might Bite! Perhaps everyone has a downer on him because he is a Scorpion but I think people are nit-picking to a large degree and if you can get 4-1 about him winning then I would think that is perfectly fair. Aside from his sire, perhaps people are looking at his novice chase disappointment here two seasons ago, his last-fence fall at Kempton and maybe the fact that he could be taken on up front by Acapella Bourgeois. But I will be quite happy to take a lead and he was in the process of posting a pretty special performance when coming down at last in the Kauto Star. Some people even questioned his win at Doncaster last time but he did nothing wrong there and when we turned down back I gave him a slap and he went on and jumped well. No-one bar Altior can go with him on the schooling ground and I have a lot of faith in his jumping. Of course, you can make claims for Alpha Des Obeaux and Royal Vacation (the horse he was going to beat by 20 lengths at Kempton) is solid, but I wouldn’t rule out our other two horses. Whisper has the form to figure and I am a big fan of O O Seven. I rode him when he won here in November and he did well to win off a mark of 148 at Huntingdon last time. I think 3m on ground he likes should be fine for him.
I don’t have a ride but I thought Air Horse One was impressive at Ascot and he could still be competitive off an 8lb higher mark.
It is hard to see past Douvan but I would have loved to have seen Sprinter Sacre up against him in his pomp. I know who I would have fancied.
I don’t have a view in the Cross Country.
I think the guvnor believes Divin Bere has 14lb in hand judged on his Huntingdon defeat of Master Blueyes, so no wonder he is favourite. So we could all be up against it. My mount steps down in class after chasing home the runner-up in the Adonis at Kempton and perhaps his earlier defeat at odds of 1/7 at Sandown wasn’t as bad as it looked at the time as the winner followed up at that track on Saturday. The good ground will suit and don’t forget he was a 98-rated horse on the Flat, so perhaps there is some mileage in hurdles mark of 124.
He won a decent bumper at Haydock back in November but his overall form does leave him with a bit to find here. But he is tough and he finished a good second in a rough race at Doncaster for me against a well-regarded horse of Tom George’s, and we pulled clear of the third. We were also giving the winner 7lb and were only beaten just over 2 lengths. I think he may go better than many are expecting.
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