Meetings:

“GO ON YA BEAUTY!!”

The big day is upon us, six months of talking and waiting nearly over and when the roar goes up at 1.31pm everyone is desperte to get that first winner on the board.

My previews have covered most of the races for the week and hopefully we’ve managed to find some value but only time will tell. God knows I’ve already found some non-runners!

I’ll go through each race in a bit more detail now and hopefully provide a bit of extra insight. I think there is also some scope for us to put together a nice accumulator for the week with some of the favourites that I fancy. More of that later…

Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle

  • 1.30 p.m.
  • 2miles and 87 yards
  • For ‘novice’ hurdlers – i.e. those hurdlers who had not won a hurdles race before the start of the current season
  • No age restriction

The Mullins/Walsh/Ricci stranglehold on this race ended last year with Min only managing to finish second to the impressive Altior who has now switched to fences and looks even better, as I suspect we’ll find out in the second race of the day.

The Mullins main hope this year seems to be Melon, who had shortened considerably for this race in the betting before he had even been seen on a racecourse, such were the good vibes coming out of the Mullins yard. The horse has subsequently won on debut but that’s the full extent of his form so far. Not much to go on you might say.

I had tipped Moon Racer for this but such is the confidence of his connections that they have decided to miss out the novice races altogether and go straight for the Champion Hurdle. What a story that will be if they pull it off. Thankfully our bet on Moon Racer was non-runner no bet so we get our cash back to play with again.

My alternative fancy was River Wylde, who was another with a question mark over whether he would run but that related more to whether he would run at Cheltenham at all or go to Aintree instead. He won a nice looking race at Kempton recently, despite pulling quite hard for the first few furlongs. He looks like he will enjoy the breakneck speed of the Supreme which is usually hell for leather from start to finish and when he was asked to quicken at the end by Nico De Boinville he found a lovely burst in the home straight. Kempton is very different from Cheltenham and it is a bit of a concern that his runs over hurdles have all been on right-handed tracks but I like what I see with his cruising speed and turn of pace so he looks a potential each way bet. When I initially looked at him his price was 14/1 which was quite appealing but we’re now looking at 13/2 or thereabouts which is now too short for me.

Instead I am going to be a bit boring in the hope that we can get the festival off to a winning start. BALLYANDY has absolutely rock solid form, winning the Betfair Hurdle last time out in some style. I thought he might have gone for the Neptune rather than this but this race is perfect for him – he should be able to gallop the rest of them into the ground.

Recommendation

  • BALLYANDY – 3 pts win @ 3/1 with 10Bet

Already advised: Moon Racer – 2 pt e/w at 11/2 (Confirmed non runner so money back)

Racing Post Arkle Chase

  • 2.10 p.m.
  • 2miles
  • For novice chasers
  • 5 year olds and upwards, usually have had some hurdling experience

A two mile chase for novice chasers that was won last year by the awesome Douvan, who looks like doing something similar in the Champion Chase on Wednesday.

This year we have another short priced favourite in the shape of ALTIOR who will win this barring a jumping error. He has looked absolutely fantastic in his runs over fences this season and he will be one to watch for the next few years as a potential superstar if he can steer clear of injury.

As I mentioned in previous articles I can’t find a solid each way alternative and I think we either leave the race alone or put Altior in the accumulator.

Recommendation

  • No bet (Altior wins)

Ultima Handicap Chase

  • 2.50 p.m.
  • 3 miles and 1 furlong
  • Fences
  • Class 1 (Grade 3) Handicap – in a handicap some horses carry more weight than others based on their previous performance.
  • The handicaps are always likely to yield some sneaky winners – don’t go wild with your bets but there is plenty of fun to be had with high-priced outsiders each way.

Another race and another non-runner from my antepost tips. I tipped Mall Dini but he has now been declared for the Kim Muir later in the week so it’s back to the drawing board in an attempt to find the winner.

The top three from last year all line up again in the shape of Un Temps Pour Tout, Holywell and The Young Master. Of those three it’s last year’s winner Un Temps Pour Tout who appeals most to me despite running off a 7lb higher handicap mark. He waltzed up the hill last year like a good thing and if he is in the same mood this year then an extra 7lb might not stop him. I am passing him by though in favour of the winner from two years ago. THE DRUIDS NEPHEW runs off the same handicap mark as he did when winning in 2015 and Neil Mulholland has clearly aimed him at the race again. Noel Fehily on board is the perfect man for the job and there is plenty to like about his chances.

Recommendation

  • 2 pt win – THE DRUIDS NEPHEW @ 9/1 with 10Bet

Already advised: 2 pt e/w – Mall Dini 2 pt e/w at 12/1 (Confirmed non-runner so money back)

Champion Hurdle

  • 3.30 p.m.
  • 2m 110 y
  • Hurdles
  • The best hurdles horses in training go for this one
  • The race this year has suffered from lots of call-offs through injury
  • Last two winners – Annie Power and Faugheen – ruled out

The highlight of the first day of the festival has had the shine taken off it slightly with the number of injuries to top contenders. The last two winners have been Annie Power and Faugheen and both miss out. Other potential contenders like Atior and Yorkhill have both gone chasing instead and the race is definitely lacking a superstar. As a result you can make a case for most of them to one extent or another.

Yanworth is solid enough but doesn’t have a turn of foot if one or two of them start to get away from him and the current prices look awfully short to me. Petit Mouchoir hasn’t beaten much and he was poor at last year’s festival so I wouldn’t be too confident in him. Brain Power is a good handicapper but would need to step up considerably to win a Champion Hurdle, even if it isn’t a vintage year. Moon Racer was my tip for the Supreme and he is a total unknown stepped up to this level. He could step up but I would be looking for something like 16/1 rather than the prices available at the moment which are around half that price.

My antepost selection was THE NEW ONE who is rated only 1lb inferior to Yanworth, has solid course and distance form in much stronger Champion Hurdles and looked like age hasn’t caught up with him yet in his three runs this season. He rarely runs a bad race and I am stunned that we can still get the juicy each way prices about him. Let’s get involved and hope that he brings the house down.

Recommendation

  • Stick with the previously advised bet on The New One
  • Already advised – 2 pt e/w – The New One – 14/1 with 10Bet

OLBG Mares Hurdle

  • 4.10 p.m.
  • 2m 4f
  • A race exclusively for mares
  • Willie Mullins has won the race 7 times in a row

Things have become very, very interesting here in the last few days, at least for horse racing swots like me. Two strange things have happened – firstly, Mullins and Ricci have apparently decided to run BOTH Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag and secondly, Ruby Walsh has decided to ride Limini rather than Vroum Vroum. Both of those decisions are a big surprise to me.

The only conclusion that I can come to is that Vroum Vroum Mag hasn’t been working well at home or has been sick and they’re not sure if she is 100% yet. She has always looked a good bit better than Limini to me although her last run at Doncster was one of her poorest performances (despite winning). The third horse of significance in the race is Apple’s Jade who has some fabulous form, not least her stunning win at Aintree last season.

I’ve paused here and had a long hard think because the sensible bet is probably to take Apple’s Jade given that she is the bigger price of the three main protaginists and there isn’t a whole lot between them.

However, I am going to take a risk and say that Ruby has called it wrong this time. 11/4 for Vroum Vroum Mag in a race she won easily last year is just too big for me to ignore.

Recommendation

  • 2 pt win – VROUM VROUM MAG – 11/4 with 10Bet

JT McNamara National Hunt Chase

  • 4.50 p.m.
  • 4miles
  • Stamina-sapping test for Novice Chasers
  • Only amateur jockeys are allowed to take part

This race hasn’t always had the best reputation because it has been seen in the past as a real slog over four miles for so called ‘plodders’. Last year though the top three were Minella Rocco, Native River and Measureofmydreams who are all classy and Native River in particular has gone on to bigger and better things to the extent that he is vying for favouritism for the Gold Cup.

I’ve tipped A GENIE IN ABOTTLE already for this race and he has the benefit of Jamie Codd on board who is great value in the amateur races. Edwulf is his main market rival but I would be concerned about his jumping in a race like this. They need to be efficient and tidy and Edwulf is neither.

Beware the Bear ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen is a definite danger. He fits the profile and has won his last 4 in a row. It’s not clear whether he will stay the four miles or not and Nicky Henderson wouldn’t necessarily be my go to guy for staying chasers but he could be an each way alternative.

The one that I will put up in addition to A Genie In Abottle is a previous festival winner TIGER ROLL who won the Triumph Hurdle back in 2014. He is the second-highest rated horse in the race and although the jockey isn’t as useful as Jamie Codd or Derek O’Connor she is an experienced enough amateur. Gordon Elliott is very keen on Tiger Roll’s chances and I think the price is too big.

Recommended

  • 0.5 pt e/w – TIGER ROLL – 16/1 with 10Bet
  • Already advised: 1 pt e/w – A GENIE IN ABOTTLE – 5/1

Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase

  • 5.15 p.m.
  • 2m 4f
  • Fences
  • Class 1 Listed Handicap
  • All runners rated within 5lb of each other

The weights aren’t hugely important in this race because all of the runners are rated within 5lb of each other in the weights. The key for me here is to try to find one that is well handicapped and has the potential to be much better in time.

I’ve tipped Poker School but he’s now a non-runner so it’s money back for us and back to the well we go. Romain De Senam was another that caught the eye who is now a non-runner and the rain hasn’t come for Bun Doran but there is one very interesting runner who has been declared in the shape of DOUBLE W’S.

Malcolm Jefferson wouldn’t have tons of runners at the festival but he is very fond of this one as is Brian Hughes the jockey. Hughes is having an incredible season this year and looks the most likely jockey to challenge Richard Johnson for champion jockey in the years to come. He seems to be riding multiple winners on a daily basis, particularly up north where sometimes there is less publicity and a lower class of racing so he flies under the radar to some extent.

When he said he was very keen on this horse I took note. You can bet that Double W’s has been aimed at the festival all year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a big race at a nice big price.

Recommendation

  • 1 pt e/w – Double W’s – 16/1 with 10Bet
  • Already advised: 1 pt e/w – Poker School (Declared a non runner so money back)

Cheltenham Festival Accumulator

As I mentioned earlier I think there are a few selections across the week that we can put together in an accumulator for a bit of fun. My suggestions would be:

  • Altior – Arkle (Tuesday) – 2/7
  • Neon Wolf – Neptune (Wednesday) – 7/4
  • Douvan – Champion Chase (Wednesday) – 1/4
  • Yorkhill – JLT Chase (Thursday) – 11/8
  • On The Fringe – Foxhunters (Friday) – 11/8

Recommendation

  • 1 pt accumulator – combined odds of 24/1

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