Cheltenham 2018 LIVE: Today’s results, tips, racecards and news from Cheltenham Festival
Tuesday saw the Festival start with the going heavy, soft in places, the toughest conditions on day one at Cheltenham since 1982.
However, it was quickly drying with the snow of just a few days earlier replaced by bright sunshine at times, and the sun shone on the punters as favourites galore came in.
Footpad, Coo Star Sivola and Buveur D’Air, the last of whom retain his Champion Hurdle crown despite a race-long tussle with Faugheen and a spirited finish from the fast-closing Melon.
Today, the Queen Mother Champion Chase will be the feature race – and there looks to be a three-way fight between Altior, Douvan and Min brewing.
Cheltenham day two – Ladies Day LIVE
2.20pm: Presenting Percy wins! The favourite makes his move with three to jump and hits the front with two to go. Monalee and Black Corton tried to stay with him but just couldn’t handle the pace in the latter stages. A classy ride from Davy Russell.
2.15pm: Black Corton leads at the halfway stage but this is too quicky I think. Monalee is in second, two length clear of the chasing group with Ballyoptic and Al Boum Photo leading the pack.
Presenting Percy very happy tucked in at the back.
2.10pm: They’re off with Ballyoptic, Elegant Escape and Black Corton jumping out into the lead. The favourite Presenting Percy is tucked in at the back for the three-mile trip.
2.05pm: Jeremy Kyle, pictured earlier, has a piece of Black Corton as a joint owner. He is pretty excited to be in the ring with trainer Paul Nicholls.
2pm: Our attention turns to the Novices’ Chase now, where Presenting Percy is a 5/2 favourite although the ground is a major concern for his camp and The Scout doesn’t fancy him though…
“BLACK CORTON (nap) could give the highly-promising Bryony Frost the biggest winner of her fledgling career. The Paul Nicholls-trained runner has won eight of his 11 races over fences and was second in the other three so is sure to give his running today. A comfortable winner at Ascot last time, he is yet to race on heavy ground, but it would be a surprise if he couldn’t cope with the conditions.
“Presenting Percy is Ireland’s leading novice chaser and is respected. Had a hard race at Gowran Park last month when runner-up to Our Duke and provided that hasn’t left a mark he is sure to make them all go.
“Fellow Irish challenger Monalee might have had a perfect three-from-three record leading into this but for falling at Leopardstown in December. Book-ended that unfortunate run with wins at Punchestown and on a return visit to Leopardstown.”
1.50pm: Jockey Kennedy is asked if Samcro is a Gold Cup horse.
“I’ve never ridden a Gold Cup horse so I wouldn’t know!”
I think we can tell you that he’s definitely good enough, Jack.
1.40pm: Gowiththeflow and Scarpeta set the early, even pace with Samcro, tracked by Brahma Bull, happy to be back in fifth and travelling well.
Vision Des Flos had rarely been out of contenttion and took the lead with two to jump but coming round the bend after the penultimate hurdle, Samcro put the squeeze on and drift five lengths clear with apparent ease. Black Op had travelled well too and briefly closed but Samcro was too good in the home straight.
1.35pm: Samcro WINS! Brilliant ride from Jack Kennedy. So, so easy. What a horse!
The Irish are coming… Samcro and jockey Jack Kennedy celebrate winning the first of the day
1.28pm: They’re down at the start. Jack Kennedy looks pretty happy with his 8/11 favourite.
1.25pm: Samcro looks enormous in the ring. What a horse. Ireland expects, as do I. Surely he’ll deliver?
1.20pm: Let’s get the lowdown on the first race from The Scout, our resident tipster and Britain’s leading expert in 2018. He, like so many others, can’t look past Samcro. Too right.
“SAMCRO is unbeaten in six runs – three bumpers and three hurdles – and should remain so despite this being the biggest test of his short career. Gordon Elliott’s charge was given a short break to freshen him for his pre-Cheltenham run and he did all that was asked of him in defeating Duc Des Genievres comfortably at Leopardstown last month.
Had an entry in the Irish Champion Hurdle and could have gone for the Supreme Novices Hurdle, but connections have plumped for this slightly easier task. What will chase him home?
On the balance of all known form it looks like Next Destination is booked for second spot. Willie Mullins’ runner is also unbeaten over hurdles, but hasn’t quite matched Samcro’s performances thus far. But he is very lightly raced and still improving and might be a bigger threat to favourite backers than the odds suggest.
Duc Des Genievres has already failed to cope with Samcro so the best of the rest could be the Tom George-trained Black Op, who failed narrowly to beat Santina over this course in January. Kept on gamely that day and could be running on up the hill in the closing stages.”
1.10pm: With the first race drawing closer, I briefly want to look ahead to the feature race again. AP McCoy, and few know racing better you would think, is talking up Altior and his ability to handle both the fences and the crowd, a factor that can affect some horses.
The Nicky Henderson-trained horse is currently 11/10 with Douvan at 4/1. It’s clear who the favourite will be but it could be an almighty struggle.
12.45pm: We have royalty in attendance today (of course). Yesterday it was the Princess Royal, Mike and Zara Tindall. Today, we’ve got Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Jeremy Kyle – okay, he’s not royalty but he’s a big deal. To me at least.
Jeremy Kyle is among the race-goers today.
12.30pm: One hour to got until the first race, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. The Scout has gone for Samcro, but a couple of eagle-eyed Express Sport bods have got a piece of Black Op, Noel Fehily’s ride. He won the opener yesterday too so could be in the mix on his 10/1 shot.
That said, Samcro has been picked as the banker of the Festival by many.
12.15pm: A short delay in blogging as your resident blogger grabs his lunch before the afternoon gets REALLY busy. Pictures are starting to flood in from Ladies Day with some CRACKING hats. Honestly, I think the men need to step it up. Why aren’t they wearing anything as spectacular as this from jockey Bryony Frost?
Cheltenham jockey Bryony Frost in her Ladies Day outfit
11.30am: The wind is gusting and that is helping the track dry. The round course is pretty much soft all the way around apparently so anything two miles or under will basically be considered soft, I think. Longer than that and there are some heavy patches.
It could be a little bit tacky though, maybe holding horses back a little bit. Important one for anyone basing their bets on the ground. Perhaps quicker than you think.
11am: Last year, Willie Mullins failed to get a single winner on day one. It was an unusual day in that sense. Well, he didn’t blank yesterday. A brilliant treble took him up to 57 while Nicky Henderson’s one winner took him up to 59 – could Mullins overtake him by the end of the week? That will be fascinating to see play out.
10.30am: Some sad news to report from yesterday. Mossback and Report to Base both died after falls. They did both look nasty at first viewing and unfortunately they have been destroyed.
Read the full story and the inevitable backlash here.
10am: Tips of course are what you’re all after. I know, I know. I won’t give you mine though (although I did ping three winners of my own yesterday, I’ll have you know). Instead, here’s what the Scout is backing.
The Scout tips: 1.30pm Samcro, 2.10pm Black Corton (nap), 2.50pm William Henry, 3.30pm Altior, 4.10pm The Last Samuri, 4.50pm Mitchouka, 5.30pm Acey Milan.
And if you’re after a more discursive view of each race, read his Cheltenham tips piece for Ladies Day.
9.30am: Good morning! Did you win money yesterday? If you didn’t you were doing something wrong. The Daily Express’ own tipster The Scout (officially the best in the country, you know) had four winners and plenty of punters picked up wins galore with favourites coming in three times in the early races.
And there’s no reason today couldn’t be similar, especially with the ground firming up. Here’s clerk of the course Simon Claisse on the subject.
“We’ve had a dry night. That hasn’t really affected the going. It was changed to soft, heavy in places after race five yesterday so on the chase, hurdle and cross-country [courses] we remain soft, heavy in places but there is a strong breeze blowing this morning.
“It may well be by the time we kick off at 1.30pm that we change the ground to soft all round but we’ll just see how things dry out. We are forecast a dry afternoon.”