Ladies Day at The Cheltenham Festival Day Two
Expect free-flowing bubbly, muddy stilettos and a wonderful array of great and garish hats swamping Cheltenham Racecourse on day two of the March Festival. Ladies Day is a sight to behold, a kaleidoscope of daring outfits, a blend of glamour and raucousness and an utterly fantastic party.
However, that is all a mere sideshow to the serious business of racing, and fans and punters can look forward to four Grade 1 races on day two of the famous Cheltenham Festival. It will attract some of the greatest horses, jockeys and trainers in the country and several thrilling duels will play out in front of the screaming hordes.
Which races take place on Cheltenham day two?
There are seven races to look forward to on day two, starting with the Grade 1 Neptune Novices Hurdle at 1.30pm. This takes in 10 fences and has seen some superstar winners this century, including Galileo, First Lieutenant, Faugheen and Yorkhill.
Next is the 3 mile 1/2 furlong RSA Chase, another Grade 1 contest and one that is open to novices. Last year Might Bite romped to victory and he is now the favourite to win the Gold Cup this time around, so it is certainly one to watch.
The third race of the day is the Coral Cup, a Group 3 hurdles race that takes place over 2 miles and 5 furlongs.
After that it is the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase, which was established in 1959 and originally called the National Hunt Two-Mile Champion Chase. It was renamed in 1980 to honour the Queen Mother, a successful owner of chasers.
One of the festival’s newer races, the Cross Country Chase, is the fifth of the day, and this is one of the most low-key contests of the four days, but still offers great value to canny punters.
The Group 3 Fred Winter Junior Novices Hurdle is the penultimate race of the day, and it finishes strong with the Group 1 Champion Bumper, the most prestigious flat race in the National Hunt calendar.
Which are the feature races?
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the big one on Ladies Day, complete with a £350,000 prize purse. It is the leading minimum-distance chase in the National Hunt calendar and is always eagerly anticipated.
The RSA Chase, the Champion Bumper and the Neptune Novices Hurdle are the other three that will attract the most attention, but often better profits can be made in the less heralded races.
What are the big duels of day two?
An absolutely phenomenal field has declared for the Queen Mother Champion Chase: Altior, Min, Politologue, Fox Norton, Un De Sceaux, Special Tiara, Yorkhill, Top Notch, the list goes on and on. But it could ultimately come down to a duel between Altior and Min.
Altior, trained by Nicky Henderson, won the Arkle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and is on an 11-race winning streak dating back to 2015. Min is one of Willie Mullins’ greatest hopes for the Festival after winning six of nine career starts.
These two faced off in the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, when Altior outclassed Min to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. It will be fascinating to watch them renew hostilities next month.
The most intriguing duel could be Henderson versus Mullins, the leading trainer in England against the top trainer in Ireland, who both have strong hands heading into the Cheltenham Festival and will fight it out to be named Champion Trainer.
Who is the ante post favourite to win The RSA Chase?
Presenting Percy is the 3/1 ante post favourite in a strong field for the RSA Chase. The seven-year-old bay gelding has won his last two starts, the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle and the Porterstwon Handicap Chase, and is tipped to translate that form into success at the March Festival.
Who is the ante post favourite to win The Champion Bumper?
There are currently joint favourites leading the betting for the Champion Bumper: Blackbow and Didtheyleaveuouttoo, both priced at 6/1. The former is trained by Mullins has won both starts so far, while the latter is part of the JP McManus stable, trained by Nick Gifford. Didtheyleaveuouttoo has also won both his races so far.
Who is the ante post favourite to win The Queen Mother Champion Chase?
The supremely talented Altior currently heads the betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at evens, and that is understandable given his amazing form. This race is packed full of talent and Min will attract plenty of attention at 5/2, while several long shots look interesting too, but Altior is looking unstoppable at present.
The Cheltenham Festival always throws up surprises, but heavily backed favourites land too, and Altior should be one of them.