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Cheltenham Festival: Day 2 set to be dominated by Energumene

Willie Mullins holds all the aces heading into the second day at The Festival.

Energumene and jockey Paul Townend.© SPORTSFILE

John BrennanSunday World

The second day of the Cheltenham Festival is all about the two-mile chasers – those brave horses who run as fast as they can and skim over 13 birch fences for the title of Champion Chaser (3.30).

This year’s edition will be special. We have got last year’s champion Energumene (7/4), we’ve the young pretender Edwardstone (6/4 fav) and the horse that beat both of them last time out, Editeur du Gite (5/1).

To add spice to it all, there are three horses at bigger prices, Funambole du Sivola, Greanateen and Nube Negra, who have all been placed in this race in the past.

The English won’t hear of defeat for Edwardstone, and the winners of the Arkle, as this horse was last year, have a great record in the following year’s Champion Chase.

But I’m with Willie Mullins’ Energumene, back on the speedy Old Course at Cheltenham, and being allowed to bowl on in front. And the rain that fell in Cheltenham on Monday won’t hurt his chances either.

Mullins won’t hear of defeat for Impaire et Passe (7/4) in the first race, the Ballymore Novices Hurdle (1.30).

Some will tell you that this horse will be the next superstar from his Closutton stables. And Impaire et Passe has been backed for this win as though he is a certainty. As Willie might say himself, this is a GSI job – Get Stuck In.

Willie will have runners in the Cross Country Race (4.10), but surely this contest is there for Gordon Elliott to plunder, but will it be with Delta Work (evs) or last year’s Gold Cup fourth Galvin (9/4). If Galvin takes to this quirky race, surely he has the class to win it?

Elliott may also make it a good day for Ireland by winning the second race, the Brown Advistory Chase (2.10), with the favourite Gerri Colombe (7/4). Thyne Hill will be a big threat for the home team, this could be a right struggle up the finishing straight.

The Grand Annual Handicap (4.50) is another event that might stay at home and don’t rule out last year’s victor Global Citizen, who is a tasty each-way poke (16/1).

Finally we have the bumper, in which the Irish hold all the aces. There’s A Dream to Share who would be a magnificent winner for 86-year-old Waterford trainer John Kiely.

Willie Mullins, of course, has multiple serious hopes of yet another win in the race through the likes of It’s for Me, Fact to File and Fun, Fun, Fun.

For what’s it worth, Patrick Mullins has been heard bemoaning the fact that he can’t ride the last named as she’s a mare, and he cannot get down to the 11st weight Fun, Fun, Fun will be asked to carry.

If you are ahead of the bookies by that last race on Wednesday, you could do worse than have two little each-way fivers on King of Kingsfield (33/1) and D Art D Art (50/1). The former is a magnificent beast trained by Gordon Elliott who was ante-post favourite for this race until running poorly at Christmas. You can always forgive a horse one bad run.

D Art D Art is trained by Kerryman Tom Cooper who won the bumper years ago with Total Enjoyment.

That day Total Enjoyment was led back into the winners enclosure by the trainer’s 12-year-old son Bryan. This time around, Bryan Cooper will aboard D Art D Art. Could history repeat itself?

Wednesday tips

1.30 Impaire et Passe (nap)

2.10 Gerri Colombe

2.50 Camprond

3.30 Energumene

4.10 Galvin

4.50 Global Citizen (ew)

5.30 Fun, Fun, Fun

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