Band can play the right note

Steve Hughes provides his best bets for Wednesday

I think the hurdles races are the ones to concentrate on for the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, where the Irish can consolidate their lead in the Prestbury Cup. Fakir D’Oudairies was placed for the each-way bet on the opening day (advised 13/2).

Cheltenham 1.30: Sams Profile

In an unusually open looking Ballymore, Sams Profile makes plenty of each-way appeal.

He does have ground to make up on Battleoverdoyen on their Naas running in January, but the selection has plenty of good form on a softer surface than they encountered that day and the stiffer track at Cheltenham could work in his favour too.

He was very game in winning over 2m at Cork earlier in the year, and showed stamina for 3m when just beaten at the same venue next time. This stiff 2m5f on soft ground should prove his optimum conditions.

Cheltenham 2.50: Farclas & Bleu Berry

Two horses successful on similar ground here twelve months ago are capable of landing another big Festival prize here.

Farclas won the Triumph Hurdle last year in gutsy fashion. In truth he has not really gone on from that, but having given up on graded contests, he is not treated unreasonably for his handicap debut. This step up to 2m5f looks very much in order and the handicap maestro Davy Russell is on board today. He should have the speed to lie up with the field and he relished the climb to the finish here last season.

The same applies to Bleu Berry who has also failed to go on since winning this race in 2018. However as a result he is still well treated off just a 5lb higher mark. I thought he ran much better than a finishing position of seventh implies in a graded hurdle at Gowran last time as he ran on the slower inside part of the track. That will have brought him on nicely for a repeat bid today.

Cheltenham 4.50: Band of Outlaws & Ciel de Neige

Two Irish trained horses stand out in the Fred Winter.

First choice would definitely be Band of Outlaws he has impressed me greatly in three hurdles outings. He was only a miler on the flat, but ex racers on the level have a solid record in this race and his form has translated really well over obstacles. He did not jump well in defeat on debut at Cork, but has been much slicker in wins at Limerick and Naas. Given plenty of cover he has quickened impressively when asked for an effort, including on soft going.

Ciel de Neige is interesting in as much his form in three runs in France has been very moderate, leaving him with a feasible mark. The fact he is now switched to Willie Mullins means there is ample room for improvement and he has had plenty of time to sharpen him up for this race – and he is Ruby’s choice of three stable runners. It has presumably always been the plan to keep him for this with an ideal rating of 132.

Recommended bets:

0.75pts each-way – Sams Profile – 1.30 Cheltenham – 11/1 general

0.75pts each-way – Farclas – 2.50 Cheltenham – 14/1 William Hill (1/5 odds first 5)

0.5pts each-way – Bleu Berry – 2.50 Cheltenham – 28/1 Ladbrokes (1/5 odds first 6)

1pt win – Band of Outlaws – 4.50 Cheltenham – 11/2 Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Coral

0.75pts each-way – Ciel De Neige – 4.50 Cheltenham – 9/1 general (Bet365 ¼ odds first 5)

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