Shishkin's day? Your guide for Day 2 at the Cheltenham Festival as an epic Champion Chase beckons
WHILE CHACUN POUR SOI (3.30) was a beaten odds-on favourite in the Champion Chase last year, the way the story is told now you would think that a search party had been launched to find him.
In fact, he finished a close third, only beaten by a length and a half, and there's every chance he can make amends this time.
And those ready to storm in and take the crazy odds offered for Shishkin now should bear in mind that seven of the last ten "odds-on jollies" in this race were turned over, while horses beaten, but still placed, the year before have a very good record.
For sure, Shishkin is superb and loves Cheltenham yet - as Nicky Henderson is at pains to point out - he is no Sprinter Sacre or Altior, not yet anyway. He was brave and gutsy against Energumene in that spellbinding Clarence House at Ascot.
There a lethal finishing kick proved decisive, and while the shorter trip today will suit the more sure-footed Energumene, it is his first visit to this famous Cotswold course, whereas all his main rivals have experience here.
Paul Townend faces a difficult choice - though one every other jockey would envy - between the two Willie Mullins prime fancies, but Chacun could have a freshness edge, as that fascinating Ascot shoot-out could have taken some of the shine from his two main rivals.
Last year's runner-up Nube Negra must be respected, but this looks an even hotter contest. While last year' s winner Put The Kettle On seems to be almost forgotten in most calculations - and on recent form she is very hard to fancy - she has won four times over the course and distance.
If Willie runs SIR GERHARD (1.30) in the Ballymore he will be hard to oppose, even if he is running over five furlongs more than he has ever travelled before. That longer distance though might put less pressure on his jumping than the more frenetic pace of the Supreme Novices.
In an otherwise flawless and mighty impressive performance at Leopardstown, he did jump slightly right on occasions.
With Ginto now switched to the Albert Bartlett, one of his biggest threats is removed, though Journey With Me has considerable scope.
While Henry de Bromhead's runner didn't have anyone doing cartwheels of joy after the Red Mills Novice, it was still an efficient performance - and he went into many notebooks when beating Minella Crooner before that at Leopardstown.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Stage Star has won his last three races with considerable authority, and he is very much on the upgrade.
Mullins has quite a few options as back-up for Sir Gerhard and Whatdeawant - the only runner to ever beat Ginto - would be an interesting contender for race sponsors Sean and Bernadine Mulryan.
Granted, he finished a distant fifth to Ginto in the Lawlors of Naas Hurdle, but he was squeezed for room at a vital stage that day and the run is best ignored.
Dual Grand National hero TIGER ROLL (4.10) can wrap up a glorious career in style with victory in the Cross Country Chase, which would be his sixth Cheltenham Festival success.
He really stands out here and the roar could lift the roof off the stands as he bows out with a golden swansong.
1.30 1 SIR GERHARD; 2 Journey With Me; 3 Stage Star
2.10 1 AHOY SENOR (Nap); 2 Bravemansgame; 3 L'Homme Presse
2.50 1 SAINT FELICIEN; 2 Camprond; 3 Unexpected Party
3.30 1 CHACUN POUR SOI; 2 Shishkin; 3 Energumene
4.10 1 TIGER ROLL; 2 Easyland; 3 Tout Est Permis
4.50 1 COEUR SUBLIME; 2 Embittered; 3 Buddy Rich
5.30 1 REDEMPTION DAY; 2 Facile Vega; 3 American Mike
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