DAVY RUSSELL BLOG: Cheltenham Festival Wednesday

As the photo shows I’m still smiling despite finishing second twice on the opening day of the meeting. The day began with ABACADABRAS who travelled like a dream into the Supreme Novices’ before losing out in a bob of heads to a very good winner in Shishkin (pictured below).

Obviously it’s gutting when you get beat like that, but I’d say the winner would have been a very unlucky loser if he hadn’t got up.

COEUR SUBLIME was bitterly disappointing in the Champion Hurdle and there is no real explanation for that run.

I’d say it’s back to the drawing boards with him.

As for GALVIN in the Novices’ Handicap, I’ve crept him into the race but the winner has just kept on pulling out more when I got to him.

Anyway, onto Day Two and hopefully my luck will change…

WEDNESDAY

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

ENVOI ALLEN (1.30pm – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Grade 1)

They’re very happy with him and he has travelled over well. His form is rock solid so it’s just a case now of keeping fingers crossed and hoping he gets the job done. We had the option of going over two miles in the Supreme because that distance doesn’t inconvenience him but Gordon (Elliott) decided to stick with the original plan of the longer Ballymore trip. There are so many to be respected in what looks a very good renewal. A very long shortlist would include Sporting John, The Big Getaway, The Big Breakaway, Longhouse Poet and Mossy Fen who stays really well, but I wouldn’t swap my lad (pictured below) for any of them. He’s been to the Festival and won before so we no the track is no bother.

BATTLEOVERDOYEN (2.10pm – RSA Novices’ Chase Grade 1)

Has been very good throughout the year apart from the last day in Leopardstown where he was a little disappointing before falling at the last. Hopefully he can put that run behind him as he is a very talented, big horse who is very versatile. It’s a big test for him today though as he hasn’t always been up against the strongest opposition this season. It looks a wide open renewal. Champ was second in the Ballymore here last year but comes into this on the back of a fall. Copperhead was very good at Ascot, whilst Minella Indo and Allaho are both also trying to put a stamp on this big prize.

BLACK TEARS (2.50pm – Coral Cup)

Has been running well in graded mares races all along before winning her first handicap in Leopardstown where she won nicely for me. She also ran well for me the last day in Punchestown where she chased home Elfile who finished third here on Tuesday. She also brings Festival form to the table, having finished fourth in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle here last season and is very versatile ground wise. There’s plenty of dangers and it’s a case of trying to find one that’s on the right side of the handicapper. Charles’ (Byrnes) Thosedaysaregone won well in Leopardstown, Gordon’s Coko Beach ran well here last year, Canardier has his first run for Willie (Mullins) who also has Franco De Port. After his birthday winner with Epatante in the Champion Hurdle JP’s week could get better as he has a very strong hand including his recently purchased Alfa Mix and Kilfenora is by no means out of it. Put it this way – there’ll be plenty of green and gold around me.

3.30pm – Champion Chase

No ride for me here but I will be glued to watching it in the weighing room. It was obviously disappointing to hear the news before racing on Tuesday that Altior misses the race but it still should prove a fantastic battle between Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi. The only time they met previously was in the Ryanair Novice Chase in Punchestown where Chacun Pour Soi had the edge but you cannot fail to have been impressed by what Defi Du Seuil has done since and he was so impressive when winning the slowly run Clarence House at Ascot last time. He gets my narrow vote.

4.10pm – Glenfarclas Chase Cross Country

Obviously I’ll have both eyes on Tiger Roll and really hope he can make it a hat-trick in the race. He’s lost a lot of weight since his first start of the season in Navan and has really tightened up. The only concern might be whether it gets too soft as the cross country course often rides tougher than the main tracks. He handles soft but it’s a bit more of a leveller and this doesn’t look a bad renewal by any means. Easysland is a cross-country specialist who likes juice in the ground.

RECENT REVELATIONS (4.50pm – Boodles Handicap Hurdle 4.50pm)

Sacchoandvanzetti has beaten most of the Irish horses in this race but is a big price in this handicap. I like to start at the top in novice handicaps and work down. My own lad is fine – he beat the older horses in Mallow although he was fairly readily outpointed by stablemate Aramax in in Naas so we have some ground to make up with that one. Tronador likes the ground and stays well. The UK runners Mick Pastor and Palladium also come right into it on the formbook.

ESKYLANE (5.30pm – Champion Bumper)

Tom Lacey’s horses are running well at the moment so you have to consider Adrimel whilst Israel Champ and Darling Daughter are also on the short list but I think the one we all have to beat is Appreciate It who stays really well and was most impressive over this trip when winning a Grade 2 in Leopardstown last month. My fella won a Point at Broughshane and was an easy winner in Navan of a bumper in January but this is a massive step up.

Good Luck
DAVY


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