CHANCE TO BUY A RELATIVE OF UNIBET CHAMPION HURDLE WINNER ALLEN
A cast of potential champions comes under the hammer at Cheltenham tomorrow when Tattersalls' Festival Sale takes place at 6.15pm in the winner's enclosure.
The event has become a feature of The Festival™, and offers racehorse owners the chance to invest in young, lightly-raced horses who have run once or twice as a way of advertising their credentials. For the past two years turnover has reached £3m, and the average price 12 months ago was in excess of £158,000 when two horses topped the sale with valuations of £330,000. Feel My Pulse has not run since, but Andy Dufresne won in style at Down Royal in January and is entered to run again at Limerick on Saturday for trainer Gordon Elliott.
The majority of tomorrow's 24-strong catalogue has taken part in an Irish point-to-point, but there are two British pointers and a Newcastle bumper winner.
One whose profile was given an additional update yesterday was Enjoy D'Allen (Lot 18), who comes from the family of Unibet Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D'Allen. Four-year-old Enjoy D'Allen was second on his point-to-point debut last month then romped to an easy win at Tinahely. Trained by Peter Flood, he cost €50,000 as an unbroken three-year-old (also known as a store horse), and will certainly sell for more tomorrow.
Others to note include Linelee King (Lot 6), who was another impressive winner at Tinahely, scoring for Colin Bowe's stable, and the Pat Turley-trained filly My Whirlwind (Lot 9), who raced through a snowstorm to win at Ballycahane - her relatives include dual Ryanair Chase winner Albertas Run. Sporting John (Lot 10) opened his account at Borris House for Matthew Flynn O'Connor - his dam was a half-sister to the dam of top hurdler Oscar Whisky - Telmesomethingirl (Lot 21) won at Ballinaboola for Colin Bowe, and following her into the ring is Farouk D'Alene (Lot 22). His busy week has included winning on debut at Belclare on Sunday before crossing the sea to take his chance in the sales ring.
Tom Lacey sold four-year-old Interconnected for £220,000, a record for a British pointer, at this sale last year, and he returns with Ramillies (Lot 14) who scored at Bishops Court in Devon recently, while Presence Of Mind (Lot 15) won on Sunday at Charlton Horethorne for the team of jockey Charlie Poste and his partner, Fran Nimmo.
Full details of all lots can be found at tattersallscheltenham.com
PUNTERS HOPING TIGER ROARS AFTER DAY ONE DISASTER
Bookmakers reigned supreme on day one of The Festival™ presented by Magners following a number of surprising results at Prestbury Park. In the feature race of the day, the G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle, favourite Apple's Jade (7/4f) was sixth, defending champion Buveur D'Air (11/4) fell at the third hurdle and Laurina (5/2) could only finish fourth, with 16/1 shot Espoir D'Allen, pulling off an unlikely victory. Meanwhile, punters were left crestfallen in the G1 OLBG Mares' Hurdle following the final-flight fall of 10/11 favourite Benie Des Dieux, which evoked memories of Annie Power's tumble in the same race in 2015, both of which were ridden by Ruby Walsh. There was just one winning favourite yesterday with A Plus Tard (5/1) landing the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase.
Day two of The Festival 2019 sees the mighty Altior bid to equal Big Buck's' record of 18 consecutive wins over Jumps in the feature race, the £400,000 G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30pm). Nicky Henderson's superstar is unbeaten in three starts at The Festival having captured the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (2016), the G1 Racing Post Arkle Novices' Chase (2017) and last year's Champion Chase. He bids to emulate another Henderson-trained inmate, Sprinter Sacre, in landing the G1 renewal twice. The nine-year-old son of High Chaparral is a solid 4/9 favourite with the sponsor. Minhas chased home Altior in both the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and last year's Champion Chase, but he has proved popular at 100/30 from 7/2 with Betway.
In the opening contest of the day, the £125,000 G1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (1.30pm), the Olly Murphy-trained Brewin'upastorm is the one for each-way money. He fell at the final flight on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham when holding every chance and ground conditions are in his favour. He is a 13/2 shot from 8/1 with Coral. Willie Mullins' Easy Game is an 11/1 chance from 14/1 with Betway following two comfortable victories at Navan.
Despite incurring a setback in the build-up to the G1 RSA Insurance Novices' Chase (2.10pm), the Nicky Henderson-trained Santini has been well-supported this morning for the £175,000 contest. The seven-year-old son of Milan pulled off a shoe in a racecourse gallop last week, but has long been earmarked as a potential Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup contender of the future. Santini is 3/1 from 7/2 with Betway and Unibet for today's three-mile event.
The ultra-competitive £100,000 G3 Coral Cup (2.50pm) looks a tricky puzzle for punters to solve, with Closutton handler Willie Mullins responsible for six of the 25 runners. Killultagh Vic, trained by Mullins, has been the one for money, constricting in price to 9/1 from 14/1 with the sponsor. The 10-year-old son of Old Vic was a fine third to Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park in January. The unexposed Highest Sun recorded a decisive success at Chepstow on his latest start for Colin Tizzard and is 14/1 from 18/1 with Coral.
Randox Health Grand National hero Tiger Roll bids to record a fourth success at The Festival™ presented by Magners and he is a solid 6/5 market leader for the £65,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (4.10pm). Opposition to him in the betting has emerged from two French challengers, Urgent De Gregaine, who is 10/1 from 12/1 with Coral and David Cottin's Amazing Comedy, a 22/1 chance from 40/1 with Betway.
Six of the last seven winners have been 25/1 or bigger in the two-mile £80,000 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.50pm). However, that hasn't stopped punters getting behind the Joseph O'Brien-trained Band of Outlaws, who is the solid 5/1 favourite from 6/1 with Betway, following an emphatic success at Naas last time out.
In the concluding contest of the day, the £75,000 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (5.30pm), the Paul Nicholls-trained Ask For Glory, an impressive winner at Chepstow in December has been well-supported into 11/2 from 13/2 with both Coral and Betway.
1.30pm G1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle - Brewin'Upastorm 13/2 from 8/1 (Coral) & Easy Game (11/1 from 14/1 (Betway)
2.10pm G1 RSA Insurance Novices' Chase - Santini 3/1 from 7/2 (Betway & Unibet)
2.50pm G3 Coral Cup - Killultagh Vic 9/1 from 14/1 (Coral) & Highest Sun 14/1 from 18/1 (Coral)
3.30pm G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase - Min 100/30 from 7/2 (Betway)
4.10pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase - Urgent De Gregaine 10/1 from 12/1 (Coral) & Amazing Comedy 22/1 from 40/1 (Betway)
4.50pm Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle - Band Of Outlaws 5/1 from 6/1 (Betway)
5.30pm Weatherbys Champion Bumper - Ask For Glory 11/2 from 13/2 (Betway & Coral)
ALTIOR AND ALLEN HOG HEADLINES
Altior and Espoir D'Allen hog today's racing press headlines, as journalists focus on two championship races.
Espoir D'Allen has his won, having landed yesterday's G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle, and now it is Altior's turn as he bids for the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase - he is unbeaten in 17 races and on the cusp of taking his winnings past £1m, just the sort of achievements that give writers a chance to flex their superlatives.
Marcus Armytage, writing in The Daily Telegraph, is unequivocal about Altior's chance, stating: "He is the nearest thing to a certainty this week," while the Daily Mirror's racing special shows a photo of Espoir D'Allen hurdling the final flight, plus the headline 'Go all Alt', followed by the sub-head 'Henderson's superstar ready to equal Big Buck's record'. That is a reference to Big Buck's modern-day record of 18 successive wins over jumps.
'Alt on his own' screams the front-page headline on the Daily Star's racing special, while the Daily Express raves 'Altior on course to make history', and prints a photo of the horse winging Cheltenham's water jump.
Altior must be special, because in terms of today's press coverage he is keeping a legend - a word not to be used lightly - off the front page. Tiger Roll bids to win his fourth Cheltenham Festival race, and his second Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, a fabulous achievement topped up by victory in last year's Randox Health Grand National. David Carr, writing in the Racing Post, finds an unusual angle with which to link Altior and Tiger Roll, reminding readers that both horses started with a win in Lincolnshire at Market Rasen.
Ed Chamberlin, ITV Racing's front man, is a committed fan of Tiger Roll, and in his guest column in The Daily Telegraph he writes: "His CV is unusual, ridiculous and brilliant in equal measure." The Racing Post prints a photo of Tiger Roll and the headline 'Tiger feat'.
Yesterday's hero, Espoir D'Allen, vies for column inches with Altior, and it is his Unibet Champion Hurdle win that is celebrated on the back page of the Western Daily Press. Winning trainer Gavin Cromwell combines training with farriery, which gives tabloids the chance to headline his win as 'A shoe-in for Gav', (Daily Star).
Cromwell tells the Daily Mail's Marcus Townend: "I shod Apple's Jade last week . . . I genuinely thought she would win [finished sixth]." A photo of Espoir D'Allen dominates the cover of The Sun's 'Favourite', a 16-page racing special, but turn one page and you find Altior featuring alongside a column written by his jockey, Nico De Boinville. He writes: "I sometimes have to pinch myself that I get the leg up on a legend like Altior."
The Daily Telegraph fronts its racing pullout with a photo of woe for fans of Ruby Walsh and Benie Des Dieux, who are pictured crumpling to the floor with the G1 OLBG Mares' Hurdle at their mercy. 'Ruby is the fall guy once again' runs the headline, a reference to the jockey's near identical tip up on Annie Power in the 2015 Unibet Champion Hurdle. 'Fall of the champions' is The Times' take alongside a full-page shot of Benie Des Dieux's joust with gravity, and the same paper prints a photo of Espoir D'Allen's jockey, Mark Walsh, looking slightly uncomfortable as actress Liz Hurley embraces him following his big win.
The Guardian's thorough coverage of day one reveals why A P McCoy was seen sporting a black eye, one he gained during a football match. "A young lad from school, George, nutted me, turning," says McCoy. He should have stuck to riding novice chasers.
The Festival's first-day card was visited by a cornucopia of British weather, generating scenes that provided happy snappers with a raft of celebrity-spotting opportunities, splashing in the rain or soaking up the sun. 'Brolly good show for the racegoers' claims the Daily Express, the Daily Mirror's page 3 is headlined 'Stars take the rains at races', while The Sun opts for 'Chelting Down'. 'Fallers at the first drench' is the Daily Star's assessment, but the Daily Mail gets ahead of itself with the headline 'Cheltenham washout'.
The Festival has a good record of defying the odds - Storm Gareth had little chance.
KEY RUNNERS IN FRIDAY'S MAIN SUPPORTING RACES
Sir Erec, who sustained a stone bruise at home last week, will face 13 opponents when he bids to justify short-priced favouritism in Friday's £125,000 G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle.
A G2 third behind Stradivarius at Ascot in October for Aidan O'Brien, Sir Erec has won both of his races since being switched to the stable of O'Brien's son Joseph, beating stable-mate Gardens Of Babylon, who reopposes here, by six lengths in the G1 Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last time.
Paul Nicholls saddles three in the race, with Harry Cobden opting for G1 winner Quel Destin, Sam Twiston-Davies riding high-class former French hurdler Pic D'Orhy, and Harry Skelton picking up the rider on Ecco.
Willie Mullins also saddles three runners, with Ruby Walsh choosing Tiger Tap Tap. Nicky Henderson, the race's most successful trainer with six wins, and Gordon Elliott have two each.
Henderson has two of the market leaders for the £125,000 G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, a wide-open affair for which 20 runners have been declared.
He won the race with subsequent G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth in 2011 and saddles the unbeaten Birchdale (Barry Geraghty) and Dickie Diver (Aidan Coleman), both of whom are owned by J P McManus, who also has Rhinestone with Joseph O'Brien.
Willie Mullins, who won the Albert Bartlett with subsequent G1 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle winner Penhill in 2017, saddles Allaho (Ruby Walsh), Dorrells Pierji (Noel Fehily) and the mare Salsaretta (Paul Townend).