Katie Walsh: Defi Du Seuil wins the Betway Champion Chase
The Betway ambassador assesses every race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival, including a horse that 'shouldn't go unbacked' in the Coral Cup.
Wednesday could well be the best day of racing we see this week. The Ballymore showcases stars of the future and the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase will thrill us with a battle to savour.
It would take a brave person to be against Envoi Allen in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle as he’s sheer class and has never tasted defeat. He comes back to Cheltenham after a perfect season, sweeping aside any horse that has stepped in his way.
He won the Champion Bumper last year, so has that all-important course form, as well as two Grade 1 hurdle victories this season. Everything he does is brilliant and he’s the Irish banker of the week.
The Big Breakaway from Colin Tizzards’ yard is clearly very smart, but I think he’ll lack the career experience to win this.
I know plenty of people were hoping Allaho bypassed this race and headed to the Marsh Chase on Thursday instead, but his connections have opted to run him here in what looks a tougher race. That suggests they think he’s in top form.
He’s a sound jumper and I think the fact that he’s had a relatively untesting season will work in his favour, as he’s been learning with each start over fences.
It’s a wide-open affair with Champ and Minella Indo , who both have massive chances, but my preference is for the Willie Mullins’ six-year-old.
One thing you need in these big-field handicaps is to have plenty of racing experience and be a hardy horse – and that can be said for Stratum in the Coral Cup.
You know he’ll have been primed for this race and, barring any mistakes, you can see him travelling well throughout the race before hacking down the hill. He won the Cesarewitch at Newmarket, so you know he stays, and he’s in the right hands to be able to perform on the biggest stage.
I also think that Cracking Smart shouldn’t go unbacked. He was a very good winner last time and, again, he’s a horse that has plenty of racing experience. Young Gavin Brouder is a very talented rider and is exceptional value for his 7lb claim.
The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase has shaped up to be a classic all season, so it’s such a shame that Altior won’t get the chance to complete the hat-trick.
Defi Du Seuil has won all of his three starts this season and, no matter what you think, there’s no substitute for form, and he’s had the best of it this year. I think we’ll see him crowned as the winner.
The Cross Country race is a real spectacle to watch so, if you have never watched this race before, make sure you do.
Not only is it a unique race that’s run in the middle of the racecourse, we’re also going to see the mighty Tiger Roll , who is going for a fifth time at the Cheltenham Festival. He’s got much more class than the rest of the field and it will be some cheer if he crosses in front.
It’s not the most original, but Aramax should go well for Gordon Elliott in the Boodles Hurdle.
He has always been well thought of and had a good preparation for this when he won the same race as last year’s winner, Band of Outlaws. Mark Walsh is a fantastic rider and it would be great to see him back in the winners’ enclosure at the Cheltenham.
The final race of the day is the Champion Bumper and, while you won’t get rich backing him, Appreciate It should be different class.
I love everything about him – the way he moves, the way he quickens and the way he stays. He’s got everything you need to win this.
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