Nick Luck’s William Hill blog: Mike to spoil the Party

Nick Luck’s William Hill blog: Mike to spoil the Party

Cheltenham, Wednesday

MERCUREY is the each-way/without angle in the Gallagher (1.30pm), opening up Day Two of the Festival. Clearly Ballyburn looks almost home and hosed, but this could be the one for the next hardest look. He has looked a completely different proposition since coming back from a layoff, travelling powerfully in two races and really putting on some style at Punchestown last time. The form is flimsy, but he still ran to a high level, and appears to be on the cusp of fulfilling his early reputation.

AMERICAN MIKE can run a big enough race at 12/1 to shake up Fact To File in the Brown (2.10pm). Gordon Elliott’s horses nearly all ran with credit on the opening day, and this is one of his most talented, supplemented for this despite having a more obviously viable option in the Turners. He already has a verdict over the touted Mullins hotpot on bad ground, and appeals as the likeliest to really relish conditions.

ZANNDABAD is a sporting selection at 16/1 to get a piece of the action in the Coral Cup (2.50pm). We know that Tony Martin will convert most of this horse’s considerable Flat ability at some point – and make him look wildly well treated – and there was every indication in a warm race around Musselburgh that the big day wasn’t too far away. Much of his best stakes form on the level came in ground described as soft or heavy, and he can make his feather weight tell when the going gets tough.

EL FABIOLO is even harder than the other Mullins shorties to oppose in the Champion Chase (3.30pm) at 4/9. Even if Jonbon and Edwardstone bring their brilliant best, the balance of the last 12 months suggests they are facing a monster in this powerhouse of a horse. While there’s always a possibility he’ll split a fence in two, he’s rarely loses momentum, and can bulldoze his way to another top level success. CAPTAIN GUINNESScan pick up the pieces again for minor honours.

UNEXPECTED PARTY might deliver just that for Dan Skelton and the home team in the Grand Annual (4.50pm) at 12/1. A very decent fifth in the Turners last year, he began this campaign in terrific heart, travelling strongest of all for a long way in the Paddy Power. This drop back in trip on this ground could well be just the job, and he can take advantage of a tumbling mark.

TEESHAN (12/1) and SIXMILEBRIDGE (18/1) both look a little value in the bumper (5.30pm), and I’ll split my stake here. The best of the Irish will most times hold sway, but the Mullins camp seem far from convinced of their pecking order in this race, and the bumpers in Ireland this year have been mostly one sided exhibitions. It looks as though Messrs Nicholls and Pauling might have actually got hold of the right ammo from the Irish point field this time, with both making sparkling rules debuts. The latter was preferred in the build up, but the likelihood of this race being more about galloping power than a rapier turn of speed opens up the chances of Teeshan, who looked relentless in the Exeter mudbath.

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13 Mar 2024



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