Lee Sobot’s Cheltenham tips: Day Two

NICHOLS Canyon can continue the good work for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh by landing today’s Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle on day two of the Cheltenham Festival (1.30pm).

Trainer Willie Mullins after victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy.

But for unseating Walsh at Leopardstown in December, Nichols Canyon would most likely be unbeaten over hurdles with the former John Gosden inmate bidding to make it four wins from five runs tomorrow.

And other than the Mullins and Walsh factor, there are three other big reasons for fancying his chances. Firstly is the fact that Nichols Canyon comes out best on the figures tomorrow with an official rating of 149 – with the 148-rated Parlour Games appearing his biggest danger on the form book.

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But it doesn’t look a vintage Neptune with only 10 runners and it is the confidence of Mullins that sways the deal.

Mullins has compared Nichols Canyon to Hurricane Fly no less, admitting “he could be that horse” and the Graham Wylie-owned hurdler makes plenty of appeal at 4-1.

Mullins and Walsh must also have every chance of landing the following RSA Chase (2.05pm) with Don Poli, who won at the Festival last year and might be able to pick off the front running Kings Palace.

But the card’s highlight is the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at 3.20pm in which Dodging Bullets could be good value at 5-1 to beat former winners of the race Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy.

Dodging Bullets beat Sprinter Sacre by three lengths in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot last time and there was no fluke about it.

Sprinter Sacre was admittedly coming back from a long lay-off and will probably benefit enormously from the run, but he is nine-years-old and seven-year-old Dodging Bullets may be open to more improvement.

Sire De Grugy’s woeful performance two runs ago is too fresh in the memory for him to be recommended and Dodging Bullets looks a nice price for Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies.

Tomorrow’s other races are wide open but the Nicholls-trained French recruit Aux Ptits Soins could be well handicapped in the Coral Cup (2.40pm). Duke Of Lucca – favourite when falling last time – is put forward in the Cross Country race (4pm), while Hostile Fire looks good for the Fred Winter (4.40pm).

Day two finishes with the Champion Bumper in which the advice is to back whichever horse shortens the most in the betting with the Mullins-trained Pylonthepressure the early suggestion (5.15pm).

1.30: Nichols Canyon - could be ‘the new Hurricane Fly’.

2.05: Don Poli - Solid, won at Festival last year.

2.40: Aux Ptits Soins - might be well-treated on UK debut.

3.20: Dodging Bullets - improving and beat Sprinter Sacre last time.

4.00: Duke Of Lucca - favourite when falling last time.

4.40: Hostile Fire - Irish raider with a very low weight.

5.15: Pylonthepressure - unbeaten Mullins runner.