Cheltenham Day 2: Canyon can strike in Neptune
Well day one was definitely owned by one Mr.Mullins. Four winners from seven races and the first three home in the Champion Hurdle. Some training performance from a genius and Ruby Walsh was not too shabby either! Not as strong a team today on paper at least but I think they will still be in the winner’s enclosure a couple of more times today, starting with the Neptune, which kicks off day two.
Nichols Canyon has really impressed me so far in his hurdling career, not just because of his record of three wins from four starts (his only defeat coming when unseating Ruby at Leopardstown), but because of his style of galloping and more importantly, his attitude. After his victory in the Deloitte last month, I was struck by his similarity to one Hurricane Fly, a thought backed up by his trainer who said the very same thing.
He steps up in trip today but given that he stayed 2 miles when trained on the flat by John Gosden and the way he has finished off his races to date, that should be ideal. His biggest danger today will come in the form of stablemate Outlander, who was much improved over this sort of trip at Leopardstown last time. Fellow Irish raider, Windsor Park is another to consider now finding himself on a sounder surface.
In a very competitive looking RSA Chase, Mullins has another strong hand with last year’s Martin Pipe winner, Don Poli. I thought, like many, that he would line up in yesterday’s four miler but has instead been sent here and he is the one to beat. I am a big fan of David Pipe’s Kings Palace, however and I think he will take some catching if he gets a soft lead at a track he loves.
Unbeaten in three starts over fences, the 7yo has won four of his five starts at Prestbury Park, with his only defeat coming when falling in last year’s Albert Bartlett. The way he jumps his fences is a joy to behold and he will not be easy to reel in up the hill if at his best. Southfield Theatre must also come into consideration, having won three of his four starts over fences and he should have plenty more to come in this sphere.
The Coral Cup is always a race to get involved with on day two and you can usually find a few at big prices that can be in the mix for the places at least. This year I am putting my few pennies e/w on the Paul Nicholls trained Lac Fontana, who has been mixing it in Graded company this season and beat yesterday’s Champion Hurdle runner-up, Arctic Fire in last year’s County Hurdle. He is a little high in the weights but the brilliant Sean Bowen takes of 5lbs which make a big difference.
Another to get a few pennies at a huge price, is the once highly thought of Rolling Star. Representing last year’s winning trainer/jockey combo of Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville, Rolling Star has shown very little since a stellar juvenile campaign but he has had plenty of injury problems and may not be worth giving up on just yet. He should come on bundles for his reappearance run at Ascot and today’s step up in trip should also be a help.
Kevin Walsh 11/3/15
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