Cheltenham Preview – Day 1
For many of you Cheltenham novices, here’s the Tipperary Times guide to the big chances on Day 1 of the Festival.
|01:30||Supreme Novices Hurdle|
|02:10||Arkle Challenge Trophy|
|02:50||Festival Handicap Chase|
|04:10||David Nicholson Mares Hurdle|
|04:50||National Hunt Chase|
|05:30||Novices Handicap Chase|
1:30 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (3 Places)
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle one of the most popular race amongst punters as they try and get off to a winning start. The race has been dominated by Willie Mullins with three wins from the last four years although it was Nicky Henderson who claimed the most recent renewal with Altior.
It is a fascinating race this year with the once raced Melon among the leading fancies for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. Other contenders include Betfair Hurdle winner Ballyandy and River Wylde, who won the Dovecote last time out. This is a race we wouldn’t be surprised to see Crack Mome making an impression, but all indications are Willie Mullins will continue his love affair with this race.
Tipp Times Tip – Melon 3/1
2:10 – Arkle Challenge Trophy (3 Places)
A competitive race with seemingly several holding solid claims but it should be remembered that in recent years, several leading fancies have come unstuck at the fences. So there can often be some good value further down the field In the Arkle which is many people’s favourite race of the entire meeting at Cheltenham.
Willie Mullins has won this race for the past two years but with Min missing the race with an injury, the Nicky Henderson trained Supreme winner Altior is sure to start favourite with the bookies thinking the real battle will be for second place. For this race, we have two tips. One is for your accumulator and the other is for the more adventurous who want a bit of excitement. As there are 9 runners and paying 3 places, it might be worth having a look down the field for some value.
Tipp Times Tip – Altior (Acca) 1/4 and Royal Caviar (sneaky 5er each way) 16/1
2:50 – Festival Handicap Chase (4 Places)
The Festival Handicap Chase is always a hugely competitive contest on the first day of the Festival and any punter who finds the winner of this one, will certainly deserve a pat on the back. The last four winners of this race have all been double figured in the betting which does show that this is a tough one to assess.
Noble Endeavor has been well backed for this race for some time now and is one to watch, whilst The Druids Nephew won the race in 2015 and is back on a fair mark. Our money however is with the Jonjo O’Neill trained Holywell who looks set to start off at around 12/1
Tipp Times Tip – Holywell (Acca) 12/1
3:30 – Champion Hurdle (3 Places)
The Champion Hurdle market is always a popular one with punters and it is always a massive betting heat on day one. 2015 Champion Hurdler Faugheen is out with an injury this season, as is last year’s winner Annie Power which has left the race wide open.
Tipp Times Tip – My Tent Or Yours (sneaky 5er each way) 16/1
4.10 – David Nicholson Mares Hurdle (3 Places)
The Mares race at Cheltenham has been dominated by Willie Mullins down the years with six times winner Quevega followed by Glen’s Melody and Vroum Vroum Mag who last season gave the Irish Champion Trainer an eighth win on the bounce
It is a mouthwatering field this season with last year’s winner Vroum Vroum Mag set to take on stable-mate Limini in a famous clash. Apple’s Jade is another classy mare and she is also proving popular. With Ruby Walsh choosing Limini, our money is on him.
Tipp Times Tip – Limini 6/4
4:50 – National Hunt Chase (3 Places)
Jonjo O’Neill has trained five winners of this race since 2002, includng with Minella Rocco in 2016, so expect his runners to be well backed for the National Hunt Steeple Chase.
Ireland have a strong hand on paper in this one with Edwulf and A Genie In A Bottle two of the market leaders and both are expected to run well. Beware The Bear was on form on his Ascot chase debut success and he improved again to defy a 6 lb rise at Newbury with a bit in hand in December. He remains one to be positive about with Sam Waley-Cohen on board.
Tipp Times Tip – Beware The Bear 8/1
5.30 – Novices Handicap Chase (4 Places)
In the years since this race was introduced (as the Jewson Novices Handicap) at the Festival, only two favourites have won. However, the average SP is not particularly big so the top end of the betting market tends to be the place to keep an eye on in the Novices’ Chase.
The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase betting at this stage is wide open with an array of classy handicappers etched into the list. Its’afreebee is expected to go well for Dan skelton. whilst Foxtail Hill is another with a big chance. Veteran jockey Davy Russell is aboard Two Taffs with his Cheltenham experience set to pay dividends in this one.
Tipp Times Tip – Two Taffs 9/1