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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

The day of Douvan plus cross-country thrills

Any Currency and Aidan Coleman (right) en route to winning last year's Cross Country
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We take a look at some of the potential headline-makers on day two of the Cheltenham Festival

Have the right decisions been made?

One of the storylines leading up to each festival is when connections of a fancied runner are faced with the option of two or more races to choose from.

It was not until Sunday that Neon Wolf was confirmed for the Neptune over the Supreme, and all those concerned with the exciting novice hurdler will be hoping they made the right call to wait for Wednesday's longer race.

Tombstone was under consideration for the Champion Hurdle, but instead heads the market for the Coral Cup, and tries the 2m5f trip for the first time.

Douvan to dazzle?

This year's meeting is missing some star turns, but that will be forgotten if Douvan can provide another masterclass.

Unbeaten in nine starts over fences, the true depth of the seven-year-old's ability is still an unknown as rivals simply cannot live with him.

The stage is set, now Douvan has the chance to deliver a performance that can burn bright, while also serving as a warning to Arkle winner Altior, who could end up taking him on next year.

Is Might Bite the real deal?

But for a very heavy fall in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton in December, Might Bite would be an even shorter-priced favourite for the RSA.

The eight-year-old was in the process of a truly spectacular victory, having gone miles clear of his opponents before coming to grief.

As it is he comes into the race having beaten inferior rivals with ease at Doncaster last time and the sky remains the limit, although his jumping will need to be sound.

There are also question marks with regards to his fondness for the track as the only two times he has finished outside of the first three is on his last two visits to Prestbury Park.   

Winter is coming for Nicholls again?

Paul Nicholls has a tremendous record in the Fred Winter, with Qualando leading home stablemate Bouvreuil in 2015, before Diego Du Charmil repeated the feat last year when beating Romain De Senam.

Add in Sanctuaire (2010), and Nicholls leads the way with three wins since the race was introduced in 2005.

This time around Nicholls calls upon Dolos and Dreamcatching, with Sam Twiston-Davies opting for the first-named.

The Cross-Country Chase

A race like no other at the festival, and one that does divide opinion.

If you enjoy the unconventional, then watching the field stream over a fence made of whisky barrels by sponsor Glenfarclas should be of interest.

There is also the cheese wedges to be negotiated, and it is a race that does throw up some great finishes, usually involving Any Currency.

The 14-year-old will be bidding to avenge last year's race, which he won, before later being disqualified after testing positive for a prohibited substance.

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The stage is set, now Douvan has the chance to deliver a performance that can burn bright
E.W. Terms
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