Cheltenham Festival 2023: Edwardstone to win Day 2 feature

March 14th, 2023

Day two at the Cheltenham Festival is all about variety. In addition to three standard steeplechases ranging from two to three miles and two hurdle contests, day two features the only flat race at Cheltenham (the Champion Bumper), and the Cross-Country Chase, featuring a much wider range of obstacles than usual.

The highlight is the Queen Mother Champion Chase (G1), where the best two-mile steeplechasers provide a fast and spectacular sight. Energumene will be defending his title against newcomers Edwardstone and Editeur Du Gite.

Below is a look at all seven races on the Day 2 card.

* If you followed our Cheltenham Festival tips from yesterday, you would have had reason to be happy. Among the successful predictions were four trifectas, including a $193.70 trifecta for a $16 investment in the Mares' Hurdle, and a 15.9-1 winner (Jazzy Matty) in the National Hunt Challenge Cup.

Race 1, 9:30 a.m. ET: Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (G1), 2 5/8 miles, novice hurdlers

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Selections

  • #5 Hermes Allen
  • #3 Gaelic Warrior
  • #7 Impaire Et Passe

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #5 Hermes Allen
  • $1 trifecta: 3, 5 with 3, 5, 7 with 2, 3, 4, 5, 7

There are two questions here: which is the best of the numerous Irish chances, and is the unbeaten British hope #5 Hermes Allen capable of going with them?

Hermes Allen has run three times and has won extremely easily on each occasion. The Paul Nicholls pupil has also won at Cheltenham over this trip, so there’s no question he can get up the tough finishing hill well.

But how will his form stack up against the Irish? Willie Mullins has four runners, and three of them — #7 Impaire Et Passe, #3 Gaelic Warrior, and #2 Champ Kiely — are in single-figure odds. Also due respect is Barry Connell’s #4 Good Land, a Grade 1 winner at Leopardstown last month.

Gaelic Warrior, a strong handicap winner at Leopardstown, and Impaire Et Passe look the best of the Irish, but I’ve been extremely impressed by Hermes Allen, and I’m going to support him.

Race 2, 10:10 a.m. ET: Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (G1), 3 miles, novice steeplechasers

Brown Advisory Chase Selections

  • #8 The Real Whacker
  • #4 Gerri Colombe
  • #10 Thyme Hill

Brown Advisory Chase Trophy Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 show: #8 The Real Whacker
  • $1 trifecta: 4, 8 with 4, 8 with all

This can be a good race for the British compared to the other novice Grade 1 contests, and they have a few good chances here. Former top staying hurdler #10 Thyme Hill has taken to chasing well, and Dan Skelton’s #11 Galia Des Liteaux has been very good when the track is heavy.

But the most impressive of the trio has been #8 The Real Whacker. His relentless front-running style has already been successful at Cheltenham, and he looks a very strong prospect here.

The leading Irish challenger is clearly the unbeaten #4 Gerri Colombe, who has won two Grade 1 races this season comfortably. He hasn’t raced over three miles but looks like a type that will handle it. Also not to be underrated is last year’s Ballymore Hurdle (G1) winner #7 Sir Gerhard — though he may be doubtful at three miles.

With his Cheltenham record and staying ability, I’m sticking with The Real Whacker.

Race 3, 10:50 a.m. ET: Coral Cup Handicap (G3), 2 5/8 miles, open hurdlers

Coral Cup Selections

  • #12 HMS Seahorse
  • #10 Captain Conby
  • #3 Run For Oscar

Coral Cup Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 show: #12 HMS Seahorse
  • $1 exacta: box 3, 10, 12, 19

Usually one of the toughest races to predict at Cheltenham, and this year looks to be no exception. The field includes last year’s Triumph Hurdle (G1) runner-up #1 Fil Dor and #3 Run For Oscar, winner of the time-honored Cesarewitch on the flat at Newmarket in autumn.

One horse on the improve that caught my attention was #12 HMS Seahorse. The five-year-old enjoyed the step up to 2 1/2 miles when winning at Navan Jan. 21. He looks to be on the improve, and I’m going to support him.

Others to watch out for are #19 San Salvador and #10 Captain Conby, first and second in a handicap at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve.

Race 4, 11:30 a.m. ET: Queen Mother Champion Chase (G1), 2 miles, open steeplechasers

Queen Mother Champion Chase Selections

  • #3 Edwardstone
  • #2 Editeur Du Gite
  • #4 Energumene

Queen Mother Champion Chase Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 place: #3 Edwardstone
  • $2 trifecta: box 2, 3, 4

This race was somewhat turned upside down in the Clarence House Chase (G1) at Cheltenham Jan. 28. Prior to that, defending champ #4 Energumene looked to have the race at his mercy, with last year’s Arkle (G1) winner #3 Edwardstone the most obvious challenger.

However, Energumene was surprisingly beaten into third in the Clarence House, and Edwardstone was outfinished narrowly by the relatively unheralded #2 Editeur Du Gite. He did, however, show improved form his start before when winning the Desert Orchid (G2) at Kempton Dec. 27 by a long way from #7 Nube Negra.

Editeur Du Gite was at 28-1 and 14-1 for his last two successes; he’ll be shorter than that here, but is still likely to start third favorite. I think he’s got a good chance, but with a slightly more patient ride, I think Edwardstone can beat him.

Race 5, 12:10 p.m. ET: Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, 3 3/4 miles, open steeplechasers

Cross Country Chase Selections

  • #4 Delta Work
  • #10 Galvin
  • #9 Franco De Port

Cross Country Chase Wagers

  • $20 win: #4 Delta Work
  • $2 exacta: box 1, 4, 9, 10

It seems strange to watch this race without three-time winner Tiger Roll, but he’s finally been retired and the horse that beat him here last year, #4 Delta Work, is set to take over his mantle. He went on to finish third in the Grand National (G3) after winning this, and his form is solid coming in again.

#10 Galvin could be a solid challenger; he was good enough to win at Grade 1 level last year. Also worth plenty of thought are #9 Franco De Port, who has been taking on Grade 1 company this season, and #1 Back On The Lash, who won over these fences Jan. 28. But I’m sticking with Delta Work.

Race 6, 12:50 p.m. ET: Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap (G3), 2 miles, open steeplechasers

Grand Annual Challenge Cup Selections

  • #18 Dinoblue
  • #3 Final Orders
  • #19 Global Citizen

Grand Annual Challenge Cup Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 show: #18 Dinoblue
  • $1 trifecta: 3, 18 with 3, 18 with 1, 2, 4, 7, 19

Willie Mullins looks to have done well to get #18 Dinoblue into this race with a light weight. He’s in solid form, and looks to have plenty of room for improvement. He’s no certainty, but he looks a very good chance.

The most interesting challenger looks to be #3 Final Orders. He’s done nothing but win in his last five starts, improving his handicap mark every time. He has to concede 10 pounds to Dinoblue, but who’s to say he can’t do it.

I’m going to focus my bets on those two, while looking at #1 Andy Dufresne, #2 Coeur Sublime, #4 Third Time Lucki, #7 Elixir De Nutz, and last year’s winner #19 Global Citizen for the exotic lower rungs.

Race 7, 1:30 p.m. ET: Champion Bumper (G1), 2 miles, National Hunt Flat horses

Champion Bumper Selections

  • #12 It’s For Me
  • #1 A Dream To Share
  • #19 Fun Fun Fun

Champion Bumper Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 show: #12 It’s For Me

Given that he’s won four of the last five editions of this race, you have to look to Willie Mullins here again. The question is, of his 10 runners, which one? It’s not unheard of for one of his lesser-fancied horses to take this out.

Interestingly, stable jockey Paul Townend has chosen to ride #12 It’s For Me. He’s run twice, winning a point-to-point in April last year before trotting up by 10 lengths at Navan Jan. 21.

Also worth strong consideration for Mullins is the mare #19 Fun Fun Fun and the highly-regarded #9 Fact To File.

The one most likely to stop Mullins is #1 A Dream To Share. The John Kiely trainee did the unthinkable and beat Fact To File in a Grade 2 bumper at Leopardstown Feb. 4 and appears to have plenty of speed. But I’m going to stick with Townend’s choice.