The second day of the Cheltenham Festival features the Champion Chase and Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway is here with his best bets from the first half of the card.
Impaire Et Passe @ 6/4
Sir Gerhard @ 9/2
Grand Roi @ 40/1
The Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (1.30) is a cracking race and Willie Mullins appears to have another superstar on his hands in the shape of the market buzz horse IMPAIRE ET PASSE.
The money has poured in for the lightly-raced five-year-old over the last week and it's not hard to see why, as he has won all three starts with consummate ease and is still improving.
Impaire Et Passe looked good in the jumping department when stepping up in class in the Moscow Flyer at Punchestown last time out and he recorded some impressive finishing splits to win going away.
The bare form is nothing special, but the visual impression was striking.
He turns up with a lofty reputation and is a short price to confirm his promise, but Mullins rarely gets it wrong when it comes to novice hurdlers at Cheltenham and Impaire Et Passe is a confident selection to give the trainer a remarkable sixth success in this Grade 1 contest.
Gerri Colombe has been my long-term fancy for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase (2.10), but he is a short price and the better value bet has to be SIR GERHARD.
He has been beaten only twice in his nine-race career and both came at the Punchestown Festival after a hard race at this track.
He has won both the bumper and the Ballymore on his last two runs here and is almost certainly the classiest horse in the race, yet he isn't favourite.
That is because he comes here after just one run over fences and he didn’t look like a natural jumper.
However, he still won by 38 lengths in a decent time and there is definitely room for improvement in the jumping department. He is capable of even better if sharpening up.
This will be his first run over 3m under rules, but he won a point over this trip and there is every chance he will stay. It will take a smart horse to beat him if he jumps and stays here.
The 2m5f handicap hurdle (2.50) is always one of the most competitive races of the week and I've had a few different fancies for it over the last week.
Beacon Edge and Watch House Cross should both run well, but it's also worth having a bit on GRAND ROI at a huge price.
Trainer Gordon Elliott is searching for his third winner of this race in the last eight years and Grand Roi went off favourite for this race just two years ago. He also ran last year, so connections evidently seem keen on winning this contest with him.
Grand Roi was well beaten on both occasions, but he raced off a mark 5lb higher than this in those races without a claimer on board.
He is now partnered by Conor McGivern, who takes 7lb off his back and that means he will, in effect, be going off 12lb lower than a year ago.
He was well beaten on his return to hurdles behind Blazing Khal at Navan last time, but did attract some support at big prices and that suggests he hasn’t totally lost his form at home.
Grand Roi might be able to build on that and is no forlorn hope for his top connections.