Dodging Bullets

Review – Day 2 – Cheltenham 2015

If Willie Mullins stole the show on the opening day, then day two was all about man: Paul Nicholls.

Dermot And Davy
Nicholls never had a runner in the opening race, but Dermot Weld entered the winner’s enclosure via Windsor Park, who came to the on-course bookies rescue in leaving Willie Mullins’ favourite, Nichols Canyon, back in third place. Davy Russell saluted the punters as he crossed the line, but he was not finished for the afternoon just yet.

Win No.5 For Mullins

Bookies wiping their brows having escaped Mullins in the opener, were back to square one when he struck via Don Poli in the RSA Chase half an hour later – making it five winners on the board for Mullins. The manner in which Don Poli stretched 6l clear had Cheltenham Gold Cup written all over it, and a quote of around 6/1 for him winning it in 2016 has already seen plenty of interest.

Nicholls Hits Back For Brits
Just when the Irish were turning the screw on the Prestbury Cup by going 7-2 ahead, the Brits began to fight back in the Coral Cup with Aux Ptits Soins scoring for the Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies team. The second favourite didn’t go unbacked either, while serving notice of the red-hot form of Nicholls’s runners.

That message was confirmed in the big race of the afternoon, the Champion Chase, when Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies combined once more with Dodging Bullets, whose younger legs were too good for several of the older ex-champions.

It was a result that triggered a 54/1 Nicholls double, in the process adding some merit to the “special double” odds of 20/1 being offered about Nicholls winning with Zarkandar (World Hurdle) and Silviniaco Conti (Gold Cup). 7-4 to the Irish.

Davy Double
Paul Nicholls’, Sire Collonges, ran a brave race when sixth in the Cross Country Chase at 4.00pm, but it wasn’t good enough to stop Tony Martin registering his first won of the meeting with Rivage D’Or. Given a peach of a ride once more by Davy Russell, who gave punters a reminder ahead of day three of his only ride on Jetson (12/1) in the World Hurdle. 8-4 to the Irish.

Nicholls 1,429/1 Treble!
But, it was that man Paul Nicholls who ensured the day’s headlines were all his with a 1-2 in the Fred Winter Hurdle, where Qualando (25/1) put a smile on the bookies faces in beating stablemate, Bouvreuil. 8-5 to the Irish.

Punters Have Last Say
But, just when it was beginning to level out between bookie and punters, it was the latter who left Cheltenham at the end of day two in front, courtesy of David Pipe’s, Moon Racer, landing the Champion Bumper. A memorable 1-2-3-4 for the Brits, who also pegged back the Prestbury Cup score to 8-6 to the Irish.

Day three awaits, and punters have already been nibbling at Paul Nicholls runners on Thursday when he has the likes of Ptit Zig (4/1, JLT Novices’ Chase), Zarkandar and Saphir De Rheu (9/2 & 5/1, World Hurdle). Nicholls and Mullins are beginning to have an exciting tussle at the top of the trainers leaderboard, while the gap is closing on the Irish for the Prestbury Cup – bring on day three!

Trainer Leaderboard
5 wins – Willie Mullins
3 wins – Paul Nicholls

Jockey Leaderboard
3 wins – Ruby Walsh
2 wins – Paul Townend
2 wins – Davy Russell