RACING fan Gerry Taylor (@thefurlongpole) shares his NAP, his next best and his each-way fancy on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.
The NAP: Bob Olinger (6/4 Bet365) in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (1:20)
This competitive hurdle looks between either Bravemansgame, Gaillard Du Mesnil or Bob Olinger.
Run over 2 miles 5 furlongs, you are really looking for a strong stayer up the hill, all the way to the finishing line. Bravemansgame was impressive when winning the Challow Hurdle, but Paul Nicholls has never won this race, and has already had a couple of fancied runners run out of things this week.
Paul Townend is in the plate for the Mullins operation aboard Gaillard Du Mesnil. The French-bred has actually won over 2 miles 6 furlongs in heavy ground when winning his grade 1 at the Dublin Racing Festival. But he may just have to play second fiddle in this to a stronger rival.
All the vibes with Bob Olinger are that there is plenty more to come. He beat Blue Lord very easily in the Lawlor's of Naas grade 1. Blue Lord was in the process of running a decent race on Tuesday, when he tipped up when booked for second behind the impressive Appreciate It, in the Supreme.
Rachael Blackmore is on record as saying Bob Olinger could be a very special horse. So despite there being two or three serious rivals, I am quite happy to put him up as my Wednesday NAP at 6/4 with Bet 365.
The Next Best: Sir Gerhard (11/5 Betway) in the Champion Bumper (4.50)
The selection has recently moved from the Gordon Elliott stable in Cullentra to the Willie Mullins yard at Closutton. The late switch shouldn't really affect things, especially as the unbeaten Sir Gerhard looked so good when sluicing up in his two bumpers – first at Down Royal in October, then at Navan in December.
The main danger could be stablemate Kilcruit who romped to a twelve length win at Leopardstown in really soft ground. Kilcruit has been previously been beaten though, when trained by Tony Mullins. Maybe the drying ground in the Cotswolds will go against him here.
Denise Foster has Three Stripe Life running for Team Cullentra, he was impressive last time out at Navan, and is not without a chance.
I just feel the unbeaten Sir Gerhard with the excellent assistance of Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, is a worthy next best bet at 11/5 with Betway, maybe he won't be the last class act at the festival for owners Cheveley Park Stud this week.
The Each-Way: Put The Kettle On (9/1 William Hill) in the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.05)
Henry de Bromhead's trained mare won at the Festival last year, receives a 7lb mares allowance against the boys – sound familiar?
Yes, similar to Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle, Put The Kettle on has lots in her favour. She won the Arkle at the meeting last year, ridden by Aidan Coleman, and is now an unbeaten 3/3 at Cheltenham.
It's true that the selection was beaten by eight lengths by Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown at Christmas, but this has always been the race she has obviously been primed for. Chacun Pour Soi is currently odds-on and could win for the powerful Willie Mullins stable. Though, I couldn't ever back a horse that is such a short price at the Festival – especially as it's never raced at the track before.
Plus, there are capable horses in opposition – last years winner Politologue, Nube Negra the improver from the Dan Skelton stable. First Flow is another contender after bolting up in the Clarence House.
So given there is no previous course form for the prohibitively priced odds-on favourite, it could be the right time to Put The Kettle On, each way at 9/1 at William Hill, as she should give us a run for our money in a race that is maybe more open than the betting suggests.
1:20 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle – Bob Olinger (6/4 Bet365)
4:50 Champion Bumper – Sir Gerhard (11/5 Betway)
3:05 Queen Mother Champion Chase – Put The Kettle On (9/1 each-way William Hill)