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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 22 August, 2014’s Morning Line: everything you need to enjoy day two at Cheltenham — and pick a winner

Who will prevail in the Champion Chase, plus more thoughts ahead of today’s action.

Horse Racing - 2014 Cheltenham Festival -  Champion Day - Cheltenham Racecourse

Source: Nigel French

(Can Irish jockey Barry Geraghty win again today following yesterday’s triumph with Jezki?)

Three big talking points

1. Neptune Investment Hurdle is wide open

One of the most unpredictable races of the festival, the bookmakers’ considerable doubts are reflected by the fact that the favourite, Ireland’s Faugheen, is only priced at 2/1. Having gone unbeaten in four starts over hurdles, this status appears justified.

Red Sherlock is probably Faugheen’s biggest threat, having also performed impeccably of late and similarly going unbeaten in four starts.

Meanwhile, Rathvinden and Royal Boy are also in the mix. The former lost out to Red Sherlock last time out, despite a creditable display, while the latter sees Barry Geraghty in the saddle, with the Irish jockey in buoyant form, having already enjoyed success at the Festival with Jezki yesterday.

2. Can Sire De Grugy triumph in the Queen Mother Champion Chase?

At 5/2, Sire De Grugy is the clear favourite to prevail in the Champion Chase. However, there a number of rivals who should pose a considerable challenge, not least Kid Cassidy at 10/1, who has defeated him already this season.

Captain Conan at 9/2 is also a strong contender, and could capitalise if concerns over whether the Cheltenham track will suit Sire De Grugy are proven to be valid.

So the race ultimately seems there for the taking, particularly after previous favourite Sprinter Sacre withdrew.

3. Smad Place and Ballycasey the two to beat in RSA Chase

Horse Racing - Betfair Super Saturday - Newbury Racecourse

Source: Andrew Matthews

If the bookmakers are to be believed, then either Smad Place or Ballycasey are almost certain to emerge triumphant from the three mile race novice chase.

Smad Place, in particular, has a fine record at Cheltenham. He’s been third in two world hurdles, while he’s looked in excellent form recently, winning Newbury’s 3m novice chase back in February.

Willie Mullins’ Ballycasey is likely to push him all the way however, having looked impressive in winning Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase last month.

Nap of the Day 

Baily Green at 8/1 in the Champion Chase (3.20pm) is worth a flutter if you’re feeling brave.

An each-way fancy

Horse Racing - 2014 Cheltenham Festival - Champion Day - Cheltenham Racecourse

Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

(Trainer Willie Mullins on the gallops during Champion Day at Cheltenham Racecourse)

The Neptune Investment Hurdle is arguably the most difficult race to predict, so it seems like a wise choice for an each-way bet.

Willie Mullins has already enjoyed success with Vantour, and two of his horses have a good chance of triumphing on this occasion too – Faugheen (2/1) and Rathvinden (6/1) both look like strong contenders.


Putting a tenner on Sire De GrugyBallycasey and Rathvinden could earn you a not-too-shabby €1680.00.

Ruby Tuesday: 13 pics from the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival>

Jezki wins Champion Hurdle but tragedy strikes for Our Conor>

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