Cheltenham Festival Day 2 Tips: Five to follow on Wednesday

Cheltenham Festival Day 2 Tips: Paul Nicholls saddles a notable big-priced runner in the Grand Annual
Cheltenham Festival Day 2 Tips: Paul Nicholls saddles a notable big-priced runner in the Grand Annual

Chris Baker provides his Cheltenham Festival Day 2 Tips which include picks in the Coral Cup and Grand Annual Handicap Chase...

Chris Baker's Wednesday Tips

Coral Cup - Grand Roi at 13/2Guard Your Dreams at 12/1Craigneiche at 10/1 and Witness Protection at 25/1 with bet365

Grand Annual - Ibleo at 11/1 and Ashutor at 25/1 with bet365

I have little interest in today’s Cross Country Chase and cannot see beyond the well fancied market leaders in the Ballymore (Bob Olinger), Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (Monkfish), Champion Chase (Chacun Pour Soi) and Champion Bumper (Kilcruit and Sir Gerhard). I have therefore focussed my attention on the two big-field handicaps, for which I have picked out a total of six bets (4 points staked).

Cheltenham Tips

14:30 – 2m5f Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 

GRAND ROI (1 point win bet at 6/1) ended last season with a fourth-place finish in a Listed bumper here at Cheltenham (beaten by just ¾-length) before consecutive victories in maiden / juvenile hurdles by a combined distance of 20-lengths. He subsequently left Nicky Henderson for Ireland but has continued his progressive form this term with an 8-length win at Limerick (Grade 2) preceding a second at Naas last time out. The step up to 2m5f will be in his favour.

Wed 14:30 - Coral Cup
Grand Roi silk

Grand Roi

lost

The step up to 2m5f should also really suit GUARD YOUR DREAMS (0.5 point win bet at 12/1), who finished strongly to take sixth in the Betfair Hurdle last time out. He made an impressive hurdling debut at Bangor in September before disappointing there next time out. He then bounced back to form with an authoritative 10-length victory back at the Welsh course three starts back and stepped up in class to land a competitive Sandown handicap in January. He remains open to plenty more improvement and should go well.

Wed 14:30 - Coral Cup
Guard Your Dreams silk

Guard Your Dreams

lost

CRAIGNEICHE (0.5 point win bet at 10/1) is clearly held in high regard by connections and is a fascinating contender having demolished a decent field at Ascot 53 days ago. That step up to Grade 3 company came on just his third start over hurdles/seasonal reappearance and given that he possesses plenty of stamina, the return to 2m5f will suit. Having won a Market Rasen bumper in commanding style first time out, he then finished third behind The Big Breakaway before winning a maiden hurdle at Doncaster by a comfortable 3.25-lengths. The Big Breakaway went on to frank the form by finishing fourth at last year’s Festival, and he was placed in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.

Wed 14:30 - Coral Cup
Craigneiche silk

Craigneiche

placed

At a big price and off a low weight, WITNESS PROTECTION (0.5 point win bet at 25/1) is my final selection for this ultra-competitive handicap hurdle. Martin Keighley’s runner has done little wrong in novice hurdles and can outrun his odds now up in class.

Wed 14:30 - Coral Cup
Witness Protection silk

Witness Protection

lost
Cheltenham Festival Tips

16:15 – 2m Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 

The unexpected rain on Sunday night will help the Venetia Williams-trained IBLEO (1 point win bet at 12/1), who arrives here in tremendous form having won his last two races. Ideally, he’d prefer more rain, so he will have to prove his effectiveness on a slightly quicker surface. However, his seven races over fences to date have produced impressive form figures of 1122211 with one of those runs coming here at Cheltenham. He was beaten by just under four-lengths that day but stayed on nicely up the hill to chase home Sky Pirate, who was very well-handicapped at the time.

Wed 16:15 - Grand Annual Chase
Ibleo silk

Ibleo

placed

I also like the Paul Nicholls-trained ASHUTOR (0.5 point win bet at 25/1) at a big price. This prominent racer won a couple of handicaps last summer by a combined distance of 24-lengths before understandably finding things tougher the last twice. He gets in off just 10-7 here though and with proven stamina over further, could be hard to peg back on the run to the line. He should also have come on for his recent return to action at Fontwell, where he finished second to a well fancied favourite.

Wed 16:15 - Grand Annual Chase
Ashutor silk

Ashutor

lost
Cheltenham Gold Cup
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