Nicky Henderson was compelled to scratch the brilliant veteran from the race that honours the Queen Mother (3.05pm), emphasising the folly of his not declaring him for the Tingle Creek earlier in the season with a view to his being ripe for the Festival.
Altior’s no-show makes it easier for the Willie Mullins-trained Chacun Pour Soi, which roughly translates as “everyone for himself”.
Punters will be piling into the hot favourite, who still has slight doubts about the suitability of the Cheltenham hill, but has been imperious in Irish combat since joining the Closutton trainer who, quite incredibly, has never won the Champion Chase.
Last year’s winner, Politologue, benefited from the late withdrawal of Chacun Pour Soi then. His inability to reel in First Flow at Ascot renders him up against it here.
Both Davy Russell and Jamie Codd, regulars on the traditional Cheltenham preview night circuit, have been really sweet on the chance of Bob Olinger in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.20), which opens tomorrow’s card. Like last year’s winner Envoi Allen, Bob Olinger comes here after Grade 1 success at Naas, and he shares the same rating (150) as Bravemansgame, trained by Paul Nicholls.
Keskonrisk may offer some value here for Joseph O’Brien, whose horses are coming back into form. The key to his chance is stepping up markedly in trip, but he is unexposed and there is quite a bit of upside at 12-1.
The Mullins-trained Monkfish, owned by Rich Ricci, looks one of the good things of the week in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (1.55). This son of Stowaway has gone on a remarkable unbeaten run and the shell of a horse who battled bravely to Albert Bartlett glory 12 months ago has grown into something of a tank as a novice chaser.
He beat Latest Exhibition by a neck here last year and it is evidence of his progression that, despite his compatriot having developed into a high-class chaser, he hammered him by 11 lengths without breaking a sweat at Leopardstown.
Another member of the Mullins dynasty, young trainer Emmet, has a staggering 44 per cent strike-rate with his jumpers in Britain. As such, with it being less appealing for the Irish to have a long-shot runner at the Festival this year due to the absence of a crowd, Sneaky Getaway is interesting at a big price in the Coral Cup (2.30).
He won a couple of hurdle races impressively earlier in the season. A couple of indifferent performances preceded a much better effort on the Flat last time and he sports cheekpieces for the first time.
French raiders are, alas, a rare thing at the Festival, rendering the presence of Easysland so welcome in the Glenfarclas Chase (3.40).
There have been doubts about his participation for months, but the mount of Felix De Giles has arrived in Britain safe and well. His 17-length hammering of Tiger Roll last year makes him a near-certainty here if he can repeat that at the age of seven and he is available at even money.
O’Brien has a formidable hand in the Grand Annual (4.15) with the reliable Entoucas a hopeful choice at 13-2, Paddy Power paying five places, though he can hardly have too much in hand.
Mullins is long odds-on to win the Weatherbys Champion Bumper (4.50), having recently acquired Sir Gerhard from the dispersal of Cheveley Park’s horses with Gordon Elliott. He joined the exciting Kilcruit, but Cool Jet, at 33-1, is an interesting alternative.
Tomorrow’s tips at a glance:
This one can appreciate stepping up in trip.
Impossible to oppose after a flawless conversion to chasing.
2.30: Sneaky Getaway, EW 14-1
Of interest after a good Flat run last time.
3.05: Chacun Pour Soi, 10-11
Experienced defeat just once for Willie Mullins.
Repeat of last year’s effort should be more than enough.
Rock-solid as novice this term, albeit in defeat.
Perhaps some value on just his third start.