Cheltenham Festival: Is Alaho as straightforward a win as the bookies make out to be?

Yesterday saw several heavy favourites coming up short as some priced odds on various horses scored major victories on day two of the Cheltenham Festival. 

After a legendary career, Tiger Roll fell just behind stablemate Delta Work in the Cross Country Chase yesterday and bowed out of his final appearance at Cheltenham. 

Shishkin, another favourite with the bookies, did not finish as the undefeated Champion Chase horse saw his crown fall to Energumene. Huge outsider Funambule Sivola placed second in the same race, a major victory considering the 40/1 odds on him before the race. 

There were also wins for Sir Gerhard, L’Homme Presse, Commander On Fleet, Global Citizen and Facile Vega in the rest of the races yesterday. 

Oddschecker host George Elek is joined by Oddschecker tipster Andy Holding and racing broadcaster Rory Delargy to preview day three of the festivities at Cheltenham. 

Third day proceedings begin with the Turners Novices Chase in what looks likely to be a two man race between Bob Olinger and Galopin Des Champs. 

“It’s just the clash of the meeting, this is the purest race we’re going to get of two horses with the utmost class,” says Holding. 

“It’s whichever side you’re in, it’s just going to be a tremendous race. I think the value is definitely Galopin Des Champs, certainly based on the numbers.”

The panel were also joined by one of the most decorated jockeys in Cheltenham history, Barry Geraghty, to discuss his former running mate – Champ – in the Stayers Hurdle race. 

“He has to bounce back from his last run, this season is a little bit of a copy of last season,” says Geraghty. 

“He had a great run in the game last season and then he didn’t turn up at all in the Gold Cup.

“Champ has to really bounce back from that. He has the ability, he does run well around Cheltenham but, it’s a big comeback mission for him. Florian Porter is obviously a favourite because he has not ran since Christmas and Klassical dream has done a lot in his copy book under Gorham Park. To me those are the two. I’d slightly prefer Klassical Dream. 

The panel moved onto the Ryanair chase at 14:50 as Alaho is the clear favourite to win the race, but Delargy isn’t impressed with the rest of the field running.

“It’s a little bit of a disappointing field this year,” remarks Delargy. 

“It looks okay from the entries at the moment but I think a lot of those are going to melt away. A few of those who could have posed a challenge have had slight setbacks in preparation. 

In contrast, the race after the Ryanair chase, the aforementioned Stayers Hurdle, is considered to be much more of an even playing field. Klassical Dream is backed as the slight favourite, but Delargy believes that Flooring Porter has a chance to win too. 

“He’s definitely got his quirks, he showed them winning this race last year,” says Delargy. 

“But I was really impressed with his attitude when he was second to Klassical Dream in that race this time around. It’s never a race to be lumping on unless they are those absolute champions.”

Whilst Holding agrees that Flooring Porter has the best value to win the race, he too is not totally convinced. 

“My only negative with him is not him in general, it’s just very difficult to win the Stayers Hurdle back-to-back,” states Holding. 

“They put such a huge amount of effort to win it, so it’s difficult to retain it.

“But if he (Flooring Porter) does get in front there’s every reason that he will do it. As Rory said, he’s incredibly tenacious, he would basically run through a brick wall for you.”

4 more races were previewed by the panel including the Plate Handicap Chase and the Ryanair Mares Novices Hurdle.