Cheltenham Festival: Champion Chase Day

It's Ladies Day at Prestbury Park where Willie Mullins will be hoping to bounce back

Patrick Madden Wed, Mar 15
LIVE: Cheltenham Festival: Champion Chase Day

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  • 12:03

    Good afternoon!

    It's time to dust ourselves down and get back in the saddle for the second day of the Cheltenham Festival.

    Yesterday belonged to the bookies and more importantly to Gordon Elliott, who began his week with a stunning 1988/1 hat-trick.

    Willie Mullins meanwhile went without an opening day winner for the first time since 2008 - but today the empire can strike back.

    Mullins has never won the Champion Chase before but the limitless Douvan, the most exciting horse in training, looks set to give him his first success in the race.

    We'll be bringing you all the action from Prestbury Park throughout the day, so whether you're in the pub, in the office or on track, here's to a good one.

    Come on!!!

  • 12:08


    1.30 Neptune Hurdle (Grade 1)
    2.10 RSA Chase (Grade 1)
    2.50 Coral Cup
    3.30 Champion Chase (Grade 1)
    4.10 Glenfarclas Chase
    4.50 Fred Winter Hurdle
    5.30 Champion Bumper (Grade 1)

  • 12:16
    Mudlark backers look away - it's another blinding day in Cheltenham (relatively speaking) and the going has been officially changed to good to soft, good in places.  
  • 12:19

    From a punting perspective today looks even more difficult to unpick than yesterday, but help is at hand.

    You can read the second day selections from our guest tipster Tony Keenan HERE.


  • 12:19
  • 12:31
  • 12:34

    Today revolves around one horse, the divine Douvan. Unbeaten in 13 starts for Willie Mullins the brilliant seven-year-old is a 1-4 chance to score in the Champion Chase and secure a third festival success.

    It is hard to overstate just how good Douvan is, and today his only real opponent comes in the shape of the 12 fences he has to navigate.  

    As our man in the Cotswolds, Brian O'Connor, writes: "Perhaps for the first time in over half a century the phenomenon that is Douvan could reduce one of Cheltenham’s championship races to the status of stepping stone."

    You can read his full preview of today's feature race HERE.  

  • 12:35
    Where is everyone watching today? Any fancies? Get in touch!
  • 12:55
  • 13:00

    And so to the Neptune in which the illustrious winning illumni includes Istabraq ('97), Faugheen ('14) and, erm, The New One ('13).

    Here's the betting:

    NEON WOLF 15/8

    BACARDYS 7/2



    BON PAPA 14/1



    BRELADE 20/1

    BAR 22/1


  • 13:02
    The great Sprinter Sacre is being paraded at Cheltenham - his win in last year's Champion Chase still makes the hairs stand on end.
  • 13:08

    Neon Wolf is a very warm favourite for the Neptune and was one of the names widely touted on the preview circuit. Harry Fry's unbeaten novice was thoroughly impressive in securing a Grade 2 success at Haydock in January and heads the betting at 15/8.

    Willie Mullins won this last year with Yorkhill and in 2014 with Faugheen and his main hope here is Bacardys, who won the Deloitte at Leopardstown in February. Ruby Walsh's mount is out to 4/1 in places.

    For Gordon Elliott Shattered Love is a serious danger to the main two, especially as she's in receipt of seven lbs from the boys.

  • 13:09
    Can Jack Kennedy complete a stunning opening race double after yesterday's win on Labaik? He's on Elliott's Brelade in the Neptune.  
  • 13:12
  • 13:14
    After the terrible run of luck he's had (relatively speaking) it's no surprise Mr. Ricci has a few pre-Douvan butterflies.
  • 13:16
    Gordon Elliott has just been interviewed on ITV and he's very warm on Cause of Causes in the cross country later on, but reckons Neon Wolf will take some beating in the Neptune.
  • 13:18
    The runners are in the paddock ahead of the opener.
  • 13:20
    A couple of late pointers - no winner of this has started at longer than 7/1 since Massini Maguire won at 20s in 2007, while five of the last six renewals have been won by six-year-olds. Positive for Neon Wolf and Bacardys backers.
  • 13:24
    It's now 4/1 about Bacardys across the board, while Shattered Love has crept into 9s and third favourite.  
  • 13:27
    Down to the start.
  • 13:29
    Confident or hopeful Ruby? "It's Cheltenham," he replies.
  • 13:29
  • 13:29
    Neon Wolf looking in magnificent nick.
  • 13:30
    And they're out onto the track.
  • 13:31
  • 13:31
    Early lead for Willoughby Court with Livelovelaugh just in behind, all over the first safely.
  • 13:32
    Willoughby Court has a three length lead, Neon Wolf in fourth on the otuside, looking slightly keen.
  • 13:33
    Willoughby Court still showing out in front, De Dollar Man second and  Messire Des Obeaux on the rail in third. Bacardys tucked in in midfield.
  • 13:33
    Past the stands with six to jump, Willoughby Court's lead down to a length, Neon Wolf still in fourth on the outside. Steady pace.
  • 13:34
    Consul De Thaix has fallen!
  • 13:34
    That fall really hampered Bacardys and he's stuck in rear with plenty of work to do.
  • 13:34
    Four to go still Willoughby Court leading, De Dollar Man second Livelovelaugh third, Neon Wolf fourth.
  • 13:35
    Three to go and Neon Wolf moves powerfully up into second.
  • 13:35
    Neon Wolf and Willoughby Court jump the second last together.
  • 13:36
    Neon Wolf and Willoughby Court head to head.
  • 13:36
  • 13:37
    Willoughby Court passed just ahead of Neon Wolf - but there could be an inquiry.  Messire Des Obeaux in third.
  • 13:37
  • 13:38
    Neon Wolf badly pecked the last and lost a bit of momentum, gutsy effort but Willoughby Court a deserved winner.
  • 13:41

    Willoughby Court and David Bass score for Ben Pauling.

    There was a suggestion there could be an inquiry after the winner appeared to veer across Neon Wolf's path down the run in but it seems unlikely.

  • 13:43
  • 13:44
  • 13:45

    Anybody have Willoughby Court?

  • 13:51

    Onto the next one - the RSA Chase.

    Here's the betting:

    MIGHT BITE 7/2
    WHISPER 6/1
    OO 7 14/1
    MARINERO 20/1
    BAR 25/1

  • 13:54
    Consul De Thaix's falll in the Neptune was fatal.
  • 14:01

    Yesterday was a fine one for Nicky Henderson as he saw Altior and Buveur D'Air take the Arkle and Champion Hurdle respectively.

    He saddles the favourite in the RSA, Might Bite, who has been talked about as being quite vulnerable. He looked set for victory in the Grade 1 Feltham at Kempton on Boxing Day until he clattered into the last and fell when 20 lengths clear of Royal Vacation. You get the feeling that if he gets a clear run and jumps well it's his to take.

    Meanwhile Mouse Morris has the second favourite in Alpha Des Obeaux, who pulled up in his last start after bursting a blood vessel.

    Willie Mullins' main hope is Bellshill although he has said his most recent start at Leopardstown makes him very hard to fancy.

  • 14:07
    Roger Loughran, who Malachy Clerkin brilliantly remembered in his column on Monday, is on 13/2 Acapella Bourgeois here.
  • 14:07
  • 14:09
    Money going in for Davy Russell's ride, Whisper. Now 9/2.
  • 14:10
    They're on the track.
  • 14:11
    Going to be a standing start.
  • 14:13
    Bit of a mess at the start, we'll get there eventually.
  • 14:13
  • 14:13
    Might Bite leads them over the first, with  Acapella Bourgeois upside him.
  • 14:14
    Marinero falls at the second.  
  • 14:15
    Nico De Boinville looking to get a clear run and Might Bite has pushed on a couple of lengths clear.  Acapella Bourgeois and Alpha Des Obeaux second and third. Front three pulling away a bit.
  • 14:15
    12 to jump and the front three have a good 12 length lead.
  • 14:16
    Might Bite still shows the way from  Acapella Bourgeois and Alpha Des Obeaux. Royal Vacation back in fourth OO 7 fifth, Whisper and Bellshill in midfield.
  • 14:16
    Past the stands with nine to go, Might Bite jumping nicely up top.
  • 14:17
    Over the water jump and Might Bite still leads from  Acapella Bourgeois, six left.
  • 14:17
    Bellshill has moved up to fourth, going nicely under Ruby Walsh.
  • 14:17
    Two length lead for Might Bite. Our Kaempfer pulled up.
  • 14:18
    Three to go and Might Bite has a growing lead over  Acapella Bourgeois, Bellshill closing up on the outside with Whisper tracking.
  • 14:18
    Over the third last and Might Bite has a 10 length lead.
  • 14:18
    De Boinville gives Might Bite a squeeze and he opens up, 12 lenghts clear over the second last.
  • 14:19

    Might Bite makes a mistake at the last!!! He's wobbling, Whisper is closing!

    Might Bite rallying, PHOTO!!!

  • 14:19
    That is so so close.
  • 14:20
  • 14:21
    Might Bite made a bad mistake at the last with a 12 length lead and then started to wobble and veered to the right idling. Whisper kept making ground and passed him before Might Bite rallied and just chinned him on the line.  
  • 14:22
  • 14:23

    That is the closest of photo finishes.

    Looks like the loose horse Marinero was the saviour for De Boinville and Henderson, giving Might Bite something to concentrate on as he was idling.

  • 14:24
  • 14:30
  • 14:31
    Look at Might Bite there, swanning around, "what were you all worried about?"
  • 14:34

    Next up it's the Coral Cup!

    The betting:

    HARGAM 12/1
    AUTOMATED 14/1
    MODUS 14/1
    OLD GUARD 18/1
    KALONDRA 20/1
    SCOIR MEAR 20/1
    BAR 25/1

  • 14:34
  • 14:40

    Michael O'Leary's battle with the BHA handicapper has been well documented but he might owe Phil Smith one if Tombstone takes the Coral Cup. He beat Jezki last time out but received a Cheltenham rating just one lb higher than his Irish mark, which led connections to run him here rather than take up an entry in the Supreme.

    However while Gordon Elliott's favourite is the class horse in the race, 7/2 is a very short price to take in a competitive Cheltenham handicap.

    There has been some serious support for Willie Mullins' Tin Soldier which is now as short as 6/1.

  • 14:43
  • 14:43
    It was THAT close.
  • 14:49
    They're on the track.
  • 14:50
  • 14:51
    Thomas Hobson with an early lead from Bravissimo and Katy Walsh.
  • 14:52
    Bravissimo leads, Automated on the rail tracking Peregrine Run. Tombstone midfield.
  • 14:53
    Seven to jump and Bravissimo has moved into a lead of four lengths, tracked by Thomas Hobson. Hawk High third on the inside.
  • 14:53
    Past the stands and Bravissimo still leads, Tombstone held up in midfield.
  • 14:54
    Five to go and they're all still in it, still Bravissimo from Thomas Hobson. Hawk High third, Who Dares Wins fourth on the outside.
  • 14:55
    Very cramped in midfield with three to go, Tombstone about seven back but Bryan Cooper yet to move. Bravissimo leads over the third last, a lot with a chance.
  • 14:55
    Who DarEs Wins leads over the second last, Supasundae leads round the bend.
  • 14:56

    Supasundae  leads over the last on the near side, Taquin Du Seuil attacking on the far side.

  • 14:56
  • 14:57
    Taquin Du Seuil in second, Who Dares Wins third.
  • 14:57
  • 15:00
    Right then, time for Douvan.
  • 15:06
  • 15:08
    Ahead of today's Champion Chase Brian O'Connor spoke to Gail Carlisle, the former head of Willie Mullins' yard who had the pleasure of schooling the magnificent Douvan. You can read that HERE.
  • 15:11

    Champion Chase betting:

    DOUVAN 2/9
    FOX NORTON 6/1
    GOD'S OWN 7/1
    TOP GAMBLE 25/1
    BAR 33/1

  • 15:14

    Betting without Douvan:

    Fox Norton 9/4
    God's Own 5/2
    Special Tiara 4/1
    Garde La Victoire 13/2
    Top Gamble 12/1
    Bar 20/1

  • 15:16
    There are your prices - but this one is more about sitting back and watching a potentially once in a lifetime horse strut his stuff around this famous old track.  
  • 15:17
  • 15:26
    Mark Walsh has been stood down for the rest of the festival after his fall in the Neptune. Gutting for him after he was booked for a number of big rides.
  • 15:28
    The horses are on track, bring on Douvan.
  • 15:30
  • 15:31
    Quick start, Special Tiara leads. All over the first safely.
  • 15:31
    They're clattering along, Special Tiara from  Garde La Victoire. Fox Norton third on the inside with Douvan fourth. He's reached for a couple.
  • 15:32
    Eigght to go and not the smoothest jumping from Douvan. Special Tiara has a four length lead with Douvan and  Garde La Victoire the next pair.
  • 15:33
    Special Tiara has a healthy lead but Douvan is in second,  Garde La Victoire third and God's Own up into fourth.
  • 15:33
    Three to go, Douvan reaching for them and getting a squeeze from Ruby.
  • 15:34
    Douvan is under serious pressure, he's fifth with two to go. He looks empty.
  • 15:34
    Special Tiara leads over the last.
  • 15:34
    Special Tiara staying on with Fox Norton pressing.
  • 15:34
  • 15:36
  • 15:37
    Not sure what happened to Douvan there. He was far from fluent in his jumping and had nothing to give when he came under a bit of pressure with two to go.
  • 15:39
  • 15:42
    It's been a pretty miserable opening couple of days for Mullins and Walsh, with their Festival banker not even come close to getting in the frame.
  • 15:43
  • 15:47
  • 15:48

    We'll bring you any updates on Douvan after his shock defeat as they come.

    Next up, we're going cross country.

  • 15:52

    Glenfarclas Chase betting:

    Cantlow 3/1
    Cause of Causes 4/1
    Auvergnat 6/1
    Bless The Wings 10/1
    Quantitativeeasing 14/1
    Sausalito Sunrise 14/1
    Usuel Smurfer 14/1
    Any Currency 16/1
    Alechi Inois 20/1
    BAR 25/1

  • 15:58
  • 16:08
    The horses are in the parade ring before the first cross country. Enda Bolger's Cantlow is the 3/1 favourite here, with Adrian Heskin now on board after Mark Walsh was stood down. Robbie Power has now taken the ride on Auvergnat. Gordon Elliott was particularly bullish about the chances of second favourite Cause of Cause (4-1) earlier in the day.
  • 16:10
  • 16:11
    Ballyboker Bridge leads early on from Any Currency, the whole field safely over the first three.
  • 16:12
    Ballyboker Bridge from Any Currency with dear old First Lieutenant plugging away in third.
  • 16:13
    22 to jump and the field is still fairly tight, Ballyboker Bridge still leading. Favourite Cantlow in midfield on the inside, Auvergnat jumping poorly. Colour Squadron the back marker.
  • 16:14
    Two are down, First Lieutenant and Usuel Smurfer.
  • 16:15
    Ballyboker Bridge leads by a length or so with 13 to jump, followed by Any Currency and Cantlow. Cause of Causes and Auvergnat going quietly about their business.
  • 16:17
    10 fences and a circuit to go, still Ballyboker Bridge from Any Currency. Cause of Causes gets a nudge from Jamie Codd.
  • 16:17
    Quantitativeeasing pulled up with six to go.
  • 16:18
    Amazing Comedy now leads with five to go, from Cantlow and Any Currency.
  • 16:18
    The JP McManus trio in pursuit of Amazing Comedy, Auvergnat from Cause of Causes and Cantlow.
  • 16:18
    Cause of Causes leads over the last.
  • 16:19
  • 16:20
  • 16:21
    Fourth win of the festival for Gordon Elliott, and an Elliott one-two.
  • 16:21
    When asked earlier who his best chance today was Elliott was lightning quick in answering Cause of Causes.  
  • 16:23
  • 16:35

    Two races to go then, next up it's the Fred Winter.

    The betting:

    Divin Bere 4/1
    Long Call 9/1
    Comperignon Du Lys 9/1
    Dolos 11/1
    Project Bluebook 12/1
    Dreamcatching 12/1
    Linger 14/1
    Dino Velvet 14/1
    Prospectus 16/1
    Poker Play 16/1
    Dakota Moirette 16/1
    Nietzsche 16/1
    BAR 20/1

  • 16:38
    Close your eyes and stick a pin in the paper for this one. A tricky looking handicap at the best ot times, this looks even harder to unpick given the unpredictable nature of the festival thus far.
  • 16:38
  • 16:40
    It's currently 7-5 to Ireland in the Prestbury Cup - without a single Willie Mullins winner to help the Irish cause.
  • 16:45
    The horses are onto the track.
  • 16:49
    There's a huge gamble going on Rachael Blackmore's mount Linger, who has been smashed into 6/1 from 33s.
  • 16:54
    A couple of flase starts, it's a bit of a mess down there.
  • 16:55
    Will be a standing start.
  • 16:55
  • 16:56
    The gamble Linger is into an early lead under Blackmore, alongside Fidux.
  • 16:58
    Divin Bere disputing the lead over the third last.
  • 16:58
    Linger has been pulled up.
  • 16:59
  • 17:00
  • 17:12

    Right then, one last hurrah today - the Champion Bumper.

    Your bumper betting:

    Carter McKay 11/2
    Cause Toujours 11/2
    Next Destination 7/1
    Fayonagh 7/1
    Debuchet 7/1
    Western Ryder 10/1
    Bakmaj 12/1
    West Coast Time 14/1
    Irish Roe 20/1
    BAR 28/1

  • 17:19

    If there's one race to turn Willie Mullins' fortunes round it's the Champion Bumper - he's looking for his ninth success in the Tuesday card closer, but his first since Briar Hill's victory in 2013.

    He has had the long-term favourite for this in Carter McKay, but he now shares favouritism with Cause Toujours, with the Skelton horse having been heavily backed all day.

  • 17:24
  • 17:26
    Cause Toujours now a clear favourite at 9/2, Carter McKay 11/2.
  • 17:29
    They're making their way down to the start for the final race of the day.
  • 17:32
    And they don't get away first time so it's back for a standing start.  
  • 17:33
  • 17:33
    Strong early start with My Mate Mark in the lead.
  • 17:34
    Very tightly bunched, My Mate Mark has a lead of two lengths from Capernicus with Carter McKay third on the inside.
  • 17:34
    Gordon Elliott's Fayonagh is the back marker after a poor start, My Mate Mark still leads from Copernicus.
  • 17:35
    My Mate Mark has been reeled in slightly, still plenty with a live chance.
  • 17:35
    My Mate Mark with Copernicus close up in second, Irish Roe going well with Carter McKay on the rail.
  • 17:36
    Still very bunched up, inside the last half mile. Carter McKay coming under pressure.
  • 17:36
    Debuchet catapults round the corner and into the lead.
  • 17:37
  • 17:38
    That's Gordon Elliott's fifth race of the Festival and what a race. Fayonagh got a terrible start and was the back marker but came flying through the field on the straight to score under Jamie Codd. What a ride.
  • 17:39
  • 17:44
    Ireland now winning 8-6 in the Prestbury Cup and Gordon Elliott has five winners. He still has a few strong fancies to come over the next two days.
  • 17:48

    Well then, today might not have been a profitable for the punter but it has been intriguing.

    Willie Mullins holds a strong hand tomorrow in the form of Yorkhill in the JLT and Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him come roaring back.

    Malachy Clerkin will be with you from around 12ish, thanks for joining me today.