Our three-man Racing Bets of the Day team return to give you their best bets and each way tips from the second day of Cheltenham including one aptly named horse in the Coral Cup Hurdle...
"One of the most fascinating handicap runners for the week is Gordon Elliott's Cracking Smart in the Coral Cup - who I suspect is a little better than a handicapper. And that's why Elliott is such a master in these sorts of races at the Festival, as you pretty much need a graded performer to win one."
A Cracking Smart horse for this one
14:50 - Back Cracking Smart (Best Bet)
One of the most fascinating handicap runners for the week is Gordon Elliott's Cracking Smart in the Coral Cup - who I suspect is a little better than a handicapper. And that's why Elliott is such a master in these sorts of races at the Festival, as you pretty much need a graded performer to win one.
From 150, he has a similar sort of rating to the stable's previous winner of this race Diamond King, and Cracking Smart is a better horse in my opinion. He was a leading novice hurdler last term before his campaign was halted by an injury. A kissing spine was the diagnosis, and he seems to have been brought back gently with a couple of runs so far.
He shaped okay behind Tiger Roll last time, and that should have put him spot on in terms of mounting his comeback. He tends to do his best work late on in races, so this trip in a big field and soft ground should suit. In fact, soft ground for the trip is vital with this chosen over the Stayers' race.
Two to play with in the Champion Bumper
17:30 - Back Thyme Hill and Meticulous both each-way
I always have a bet in the Champion Bumper. Many have their favourite races, and this is certainly mine. I tend to look for a stayer, and I am happy to play two here. First up is Joseph O'Brien's Meticulous. He's bred to be a pretty useful bumper horse, and out of Fame And Glory, it was no surprise that he lacked the tactical pace to deal with the uneaten Envoi Allen in a Grade 2 Flat race at Leopardstown. He looked an out-and-out stamina horse in that, and any soft ground will be a bonus with his sire. I'm expecting a decent run from him and I think the track and a proper pace will suit.
It's a similar scenario for Thyme Hill - who is a cracking-looking horse with a fine jumps' pedigree. He ran at the track during the November meeting behind Master Debonair - who is rated highly. That was another bumper run at a steady pace, so Thyme Hill will be better served here with a truer gallop. His trainer, Philip Hobbs, knows what it takes to win this as he scored with Cheltenian, and there seems to be a bit of Cheltenian in Thyme Hill.
Thyme Hill looks too big to miss
17:30 - Back Thyme Hill @ 2120/1 (Best Bet)
I reckon the favourite Blue Sari, could have left his race behind at Leopardstown where his jockey got a ban for excessive use of the whip in helping him win by just over a length and I'd like to take him on with one at a big price.
Thyme Hill was second last time in a slowly run race on good ground at Cheltenham, this inmate of Philip Hobbs would have found everything against him that day so to do so well suggests to me that around here on soft ground in a strongly run race will see him in his element. His sire Kayf Tara is known for producing speedy mudlovers who have stamina and after watching Tuesday's runners, I think the race will be run to suit this horse.
He's a big price but I can see that shortening through the day and with the stable's horses running well I think he is well over priced and while I wouldn't put anyone off backing him each-way, I will be backing him win only.
Brio Conti looks a bet to nothing
14:50 - Back Brio Conti @ 1211/1 (each Way 6 places)
Malaya came out and franked Brio Conti's form when winning the Imperial Cup on Saturday and I couldn't help but be impressed with the way he came from near last to first to win at Ascot last time. You have to think that this step back up in trip will suit and the ground shouldn't be a problem either. The Paul Nicholls stable is in great form and the trainer/owner combo has had the winner of this race quite recently, while he is still lightly raced and open to plenty of improvement.
He's won over this trip before, is two wins from seven runs on soft ground and has won going left handed twice. I'm sure Nicholls would have left something to work on and you'd have to think he's a 155 horse at least which puts him 9lb well-in here at a minimum. With the Sportsbook paying 1/5th odds and six places to me he's an each-way bet to nothing.
Take the Easy way
Easy Game is the Each-Way Edge selection in this fascinating contest.
This gelding put in a much improved effort when beating Getareason in a Grade 2 at Navan in December. He stayed on in determined fashion over the final flight, and was well on top at the finish. His running style suggests he will be suited by today's stiffer test, and should take a big step forward. The Mullins team hit the ground running with two winners on the first day, and hopefully Easy Game can add to the tally. Each-Way Edge 5 places at 17/2 is the way to go.
Champ heads the market at 7/2 on the Sportsbook. He won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury in December, and clearly has more to offer. He is the main danger to the selection.
Delta an elite contender
14:10 Cheltenham - Delta Work(Best Bet)
Delta Work is my best bet of the day.
I short listed him for this race after he beat the smart Le Richebourg in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse in December. He was headed on the run-in, but fought back to regain the lead near the line. He has a great attitude, and an abundance of stamina. Last year he showed what a tough customer he is by winning the Pertemps Network Final by a nose from Glenoe. I think he is open to a great deal of improvement, and has a bright future ahead of him. At present he is trading at 3.9 on the exchange which is more than fair.
Topofthegame merits consideration. He finished an excellent second to La Bague Au Roi at Kempton on Boxing Day and should continue to progress. At present he is trading at 4.94/1 on the exchange.
Alan Dudman's Bets
Back Cracking Smart @ 14.013/1 in the 14:50 Cheltenham (best bet)
Back Meticulous each-way at 9.417/2 in the 17:30 Cheltenham
Back Thyme Hill each-way at 2625/1 in the 17:30 Cheltenham
Alan Thompson's Bets
Back Thyme Hill @ 2120/1 in the 17:30 Cheltenham
Back Brio Conti @ 1211/1 (Each Way 6 places) in the 14:50 Cheltenham
Nick Shiambouros's Bets
Back Easy Game Each Way Edge at 17/2 in the 13:30 at Cheltenham ( Each-Way Edge 5 Places)
Back Delta Work at 3.953/1 in the 14:10 at Cheltenham (Best Bet)