Cheltenham Festival 2022 – Day 2 Handicap Races Tips and Betting Preview

As with the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival there are a couple of handicaps on the Day 2 card at the meeting which keeps those who like to solve tricky looking puzzles well catered for and the two on offer on Wednesday look particularly tough.

We have the cavalry charge that is the Coral Cup where 26 are scheduled to go to post and then the slightly less bonkers Grand Annual which sees just the 20 runners expected to line up. We’re going double handed in both races.

14.55 Cheltenham: Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

Preview

Time to get the lucky pins out as 26 head to the start for the Coral Cup of which 7 of them are from the yard of Gordon Elliott including the current favourite Saint Felicien.  This is his first time in a handicap so isn’t one to be taking at shortish odds.   In fact, of his 7, I prefer the chances of Indigo Breeze but again this is his first run in a handicap & inexperience may be an issue.  Camprond is thought to be best of the British after finishing 4th in the Greatwood although Gowel Road has been well touted but looks a bit exposed to me.   The Irish have a good record in this so that’s where I’m sticking & with such a big field, I’m going double handed.

Betting

I’m not sure what it is about Cheltenham but The Shunter loves this place & this likeable dual purpose horse is the first of my bets.  He won the Greatwood at the November meeting in 2020 & was again successful when landing the Plate over fences at last year’s festival.  He’s not been seen over hurdles since finishing 3rd of 24 in a big handicap hurdle at Punchestown last May & I’m pretty sure he’s been targeted at this for some time.   He’s been kept fit by running twice over fences albeit he’s had just one start since last July so comes here fresher than most.  His mark is lower over hurdles & his record in handicap hurdles since being with this yard reads 1st of 14, 1st of 14 & 3rd of 24.  He has the ideal profile for this & should go close.

Another horse who looks to have been aimed at this is Fastorslow.  He was thought to be a good prospect over in France in 2019 before moving to Ireland but has had few opportunities on the track since.  His debut in Ireland was when he finished 2nd in a hurdle race where he had good handicappers Decimation, Winter Fog & Panda Boy all in behind.  That was over two & a half miles but since then he’s run twice in big handicaps at Leopardstown over the bare minimum of 2 miles.   On both occasions, he’s finished midfield but whilst nothing to get excited about, he was seen to be staying on to good effect on his last run.  It feels like his trainer has been trying to protect his mark & I’m certain there’ll be bundles of improvement now stepped back up in trip.  The tongue tie goes on the first time & hopefully that will sharpen him up.  At decent odds & with so many places on offer, he rates a decent bet.

Tips

Back The Shunter (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-8)

Back Fastorslow (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-8)

 


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16.50 Cheltenham: Grand Annual Handicap Chase

Preview

A maximum field of 20 for the Grand Annual which has now been switched to the Old Course.  Gordon Elliott has the favourite here in Andy Dufresne who has a good record over fences but this is his handicap debut & he has a monster weight to carry so there’s probably better value elsewhere.  Gary Moore’s Editeur Du Gite is the best of the British having won his last 4 completed chase starts including 2 here but this bigger field will make it hard to dominate.  Sky Pirate should go well but has top weight whilst Before Midnight is another I think could run a big race.   As this is another big field handicap, I am again taking 2 against the field.

Betting

The first of those is Embittered who went off favourite for this 12 months ago & was travelling well when coming to grief at the 9th.  He’s in here off 1lb lower so the fact he’s almost 3 times the price is appealing.  He’s mainly been campaigned in novice chases this season & has faced some really tough tasks in defeat the last 3 times but previous to that, won 2 & was second in 2 more.  It’s almost certain he’s been targeted at this & back in handicap company, he should prove a different proposition.  He will like the ground too & I like the jockey booking who won on the horse earlier in the season.   Should he stay on his feet this time around, I expect him to go very close.

The second of my bets is Buddy Rich, a novice chaser who has won once & finished runner up a further 4 times from his 6 career starts.  Amongst his form, he’s beaten Ballyadam, was 2nd to Cape Gentleman & Bleu Berry and also has course & distance form when 2nd to the excellent Third Time Lucki here in October.  On his most recent start, his first in a handicap, he was just over 6 lengths 4th in a race won by Dunvegan who is now rated 160.  Our selection here is racing over a stone lower than that.  In that race, he looked to be making his challenge when going easily 2 out but began to struggle over the last.  It’s interesting that his trainer has kept him fresh, off the track since November & I think that he’s well handicapped, will like the ground & has no issues over the track.   Another who should go well at a great each way price.

Tips

Back Embittered (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)

Back Buddy Rich (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 Betfred BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)

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Author: Martha Chavez