National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup
OK, heads down for day two of the festival, which kicks off with a fiendishly difficult race in which you can make a case for plenty. The favourite Can’t Buy Time has the best form in the book, but the best horses don’t always win this race and my two against him are PARSONS PISTOL (14/1 bet365, £100 free) and TANK TOP (33/1 bet365). The latter is trained by the massively in-form Tom George and stays longer than the mother-in-law, while Parsons Pistol gives the impression he will be suited by this marathon distance. bet365 go four places on this non-handicap, so they deserve your business.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
Time to go in big for the ‘banker’ of the meeting, KARABAK. He jumps, travels well, stays, and is ridden by Tony McCoy. What more do you want? Get stuck into the 7/2 with Ladbrokes (£200 free) as he could be around 3/1 once his punting owner gets stuck in on course.
My ante post pick Carruthers (20/1 - hope you are on?) has made it to the race in one piece, which is always half the battle. If you’re not already on, I suggest an each way bet on the strong-staying and sound-jumping CASEY JONES at 14/1 (Victor Chandler, £50 free), who could be another winner for the Irish.
Barring accidents, there can only be one winner, MASTER MINDED – but who wants to back a 1/3 shot? Of course, the festival is not all about betting, so sit back and enjoy the spectacle!
Best to concentrate on those in the handicap proper and MIRAGE DORE just scrapes in on 10st, which could be a lenient mark considering he was a course and distance winner last time. Don't be put off by the fact that he’s ridden by Rose Dobbin as she’s been on board for all his wins. Each-way steal at 16/1 with Coral (£25 free), especially as they go FIVE places!
Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle
I think the Irish jolly, Alexander Severus, has been hyped up to such an extent that he’s a place lay at the current 3.75 on Betfair (should be less on the day). Picking a winner is a different matter, but RONALDO DES MOTTES should go well at a standout 14/1 with Paddy Power (£30 free)
Given his plethora of entries, it will be amazing if Willie Mullins fails to win this race for the seventh time. However, there seems to be plenty of confidence behind the Dermot Weld-trained RITES OF PASSAGE (5/1 Skybet) and he’s taken to spoil Mullins’ party.
Parsons Pistol / Tank Top (both each with bet365 who offer four places)
Karabak – NAP Ladbrokes
Mirage Dore – NEXT BEST (each way with Coral, who offer five places)
Ronaldo Des Mottes Paddypower
Rites Of Passage Skybet