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RACE six on day one is the National Hunt Chase, the longest race of the four days of the Festival.
It's run over four miles and open only to amateur riders, the most progressive staying novice chasers line up to give an amateur rider a share of the limelight on day one of the Festival.
Willie Mullins has won this race three times, in 1982 as a jockey on Hazy Dawn, 1984 again as a jockey on Macks Friendly and in 2013 as a trainer with Back In Focus. As for myself I tipped Native River last year at 8-1 as my second best bet of the festival and he came second.
National Hunt Chase
Arpege D’Alene – Paul Nichols 12-1 10bet
This horse has run well this season with three good efforts. His latest over 3m 2f he was staying on well towards the finish after being asked a long way from home but he looks in need of this step up in distance. He jumps well and has run well at Cheltenham in the past. He was second last year in the Pertemps to Mall Dini and is bidding to give Paul Nicholls a first win in this race.
A Genie In Abottle – Noel Meade 5-1 10bet
This horse is the antepost favourite. He won on his first attempt at a three mile chase and has finished in the places on all of his other seasonal outings. He nearly won a maiden Graded event last time out, but was pipped to the post at Fairyhouse by the highly-rated Anibale Fly. He will bring plenty of form and confidence with him to the Festival, as Noel Meade also looks to get his hands on the Challenge Cup for the very first time.
Martello Tower – Ms M Mullins 12-1 10bet
Won the Albert Bartlett in 2015. He didn’t do much else till beating A Genie In Abottle by a neck at Fairyhouse in December. His last two three mile attempts haven’t gone well so is hard to fancy.
Beware The Bear – Nicky Henderson 14-1 10bet
Won last four races and 2 for 2 over fences, he is a horse that I have looked at closely, not just for Cheltenham but also for Aintree. If I could buy any horse to solely aim at the Grand National in a couple of years time then this would be it. Some people will try to make out I know nothing but my record is second to none. Genuine chance and major contender in the National Hunt Chase this year.
Disko – Noel Meade 8-1 10bet
Became a contender with the bookies for this race today when winning at Leopardstown. Me though, I am not too taken with the horse and at 8-1 he is now far too short. 8-1 Disko or 14-1 Beware The Bear?, it’s a no brainer for me as I honestly can’t see Disko getting four miles, the JLT is the more likely race for him to run in.
There are more horses I could comment on and will do nearer the time if anything looks good but for now there is only one horse for me
- BEWARE THE BEAR 14-1 10bet
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11:40 Cork - Race: 1
11:55 Punchestown - Race: 1