Cheltenham Day one – 11/03/14 – Champion Day
Skybet Supreme novices hurdle – 1:30
Vautour heads the current market at 11/4. I had my eye on Irving prior to his win at Kempton and was 6/1 now you are looking at the best price available being 7/2 which looks too low to be confident about. There are some very interesting contenders here with bigger prices next to their name and they have to be considered.
Wicklow Brave currently at 10/1 has seen decent support since winning well at Punchestown to make it 2/2 over hurdles before that winning 4 back to back in National Hunt flat races. Proven on most going with wins on good, soft and heavy has to be a consideration.
With Vaniteux unlikely to race Nicky Hendersons hopes will be pinned on Josses Hill who must have a great chance if ground is slightly better than when finishing 2nd to Royal Boy at Cheltenham previously.
Also big price considerations for Gilgamboa, Pearl Castle, Stellar Nation, Vieux lion rouge and Western boy.
Two EW selections in this race for me:
WICKLOW BRAVE – 10/1
JOSSES HILL – 12/1
Racing Post Arkle chase – 2:05
I was immediately drawn to 6 horses in this race taking into account the historic winner stats. Champagne Fever, dodging bullets, hinterland, trifolium, Rock on Ruby and Valdez.
My first exclusion is Rock On Ruby, despite a previous win here at Cheltenham all best form is over Hurdles. Inexperienced as a chaser although he has 2 wins out of 2 he beat just 3 rivals along the way this isn’t enough for me to involve at 13/2 and is excluded.
Champagne fever is a terrific horse but with only 2 chase starts and finishing 3rd after a big mistake at Leopardstown I can’t back at 10/3
Despite losing to Champagne Fever by a long way over Hurdles last year Dodging Bullets has been impressive and battled hard when 2nd to favourite Module at Newbury. A quality horse and a definite contender.
Trifolium is of interest ticks a lot of the stats for previous Arkle winners. He would appreciate a strongly run race which it looks to be naturally and with better ground he could be a bigger player, again bookies have been trimming the odds.
Although shorter than I would like TRIFOLIUM fits the bill of an Arkle winner and at 6/1 is a chance I will take
TRIFOLIUM – 6/1
Stan James Champion hurdle – 3:20
My instant shortlist left 6 horses : Hurricane Fly, Jezki, My Tent our Yours, Our Conor, the new one and Annie power.
Most of you will know that I have a strong affection for Hurricane Fly. But, he is my first exclusion in this race. At the age of 10 he would be the first winner over 9 years old since 1981, also in his last race beating the improving Our Conor by 1.5 lengths suggests he may be up against it in this race.
Jezki was disappointing last time out and it looks like AP will opt for My Tent Our Yours for this which tells its own story.
I feel that if running Annie Power would have a great chance but with this uncertain is next discounted.
The New ones Boxing Day defeat to My Tent OrYours puts him slightly behind despite 4 wins at Cheltenham.
Leaving me with two Our Conor and My Tent or Yours. Very close in the market but I think Our Conor may again find one too good and with AP likely to be on My Tent on Yours he gets the vote in what will be the hottest race of the festival!
MY TENT OR YOURS – 5/1
Terry Biddlecombe National hunt chase – 4:40
This looks like a race where decent value can be found. Shortlist of 9 including Black thunder, corrin wood, Edmund kean, Holywell, mendip express, morning assembly, o’faolins boy, shotgun paddy and Suntiep.
Mendip express and Holywell have won around here before while Corrin Wood and Black Thunder make more appeal than the others.
With Mendip Express rated 50/50 to run and Holywell potentially running in the Festival handicap my fancy is for BLACK THUNDER to reverse the 2nd to Corrin Wood at Warwick in January
BLACK THUNDER 14/1 EW
1:30 – Wicklow brave EW & Josses hill EW
2:05 – Trifolium
3:20 – my tent or yours
4:40 – black thunder EW
Remember to look for bookies offering No Run No Bet, this is important given the uncertainty around and with a number of horses with multiple entries looks a safer bet. It’s important to stick to your staking plan. Just because its Cheltenham doesn’t mean you have to have a lump on.
All of the opinions above are my own, and I hope that with the time I’ve spent doing them we can get a couple of winners. But if not, most importantly enjoy the festival!
Good luck to everyone
Days 2, 3 and 4 will be available soon as a premium offering for members only.