Cheltenham Festival Day 1

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

I can’t have Getabird at the prices for this and there are plenty of options to take him on. Summerville Boy is the main one as he’s ran well at the track before, shouldn’t have any problems with the conditions as he’s won on heavy going, with 20 runners they should go a proper gallop which will suit him and the form of his Tolworth win is strong given he beat Kalashnikov there. I give Paloma Blue a solid chance as well as he pulled way too hard off a slow pace in the Deloitte and did well to finish third behind Samcro, so he should settle better with a truer run race here. At a big price it might be worth chancing Slate House who is a dual course and distance winner including when getting the better of the aforementioned Summerville Boy in November. The yard is back in form and he’s wearing a tongue tie for the first time, looks a good price at 25/1.

Arkle Chase

I have been keen on Petit Mouchoir for a while but am less confident under these testing conditions, not because he doesn’t handle it but mainly because it will suit Footpad and Saint Calvados who are both very good jumpers, more than if it was good ground. I still think Petit Mouchoir will run a big race, but I won’t be going mad.

Ultima Handicap Chase

With his yard going well at present I think Coo Star Sivola will be winning this, he’ll handle the conditions and has run well at the previous two Festivals. He appeared to relish the step up to 3 miles at Exeter last time and was only raised 7lbs for that resounding success, off a low weight holds huge claims. Vintage Clouds has solid form this season on heavy going and looks capable of going close for Sue Smith, he was sixth when falling 2 out in this last year and is 7lb higher now. Conditions will suit him better here but I think the juice has gone in his price. At larger odds a pair that won’t mind these conditions whatsoever are Cogry, who runs well at this track and carries a very low weight and Shantou Flyer, who won here last year and is interesting in a first time visor. Both of those have place claims.

ADVICE – Coo Star Sivola 1pt Win (11/2)

Champion Hurdle

This ground will be no problem for Buveur D’Air, if anything it’ll suit him better than the good to soft of last year and he’ll take all the beating. I backed Faugheen a while ago and hoping the fact Ruby Walsh is back on board helps and the first cheekpieces spark him back into life. I think we’ll know our fate fairly early on with the machine. Elgin is an interesting supplementary who is constantly improving and his Kingwell win has been franked with Call Me Lord running a cracker at Sandown at the weekend. Elgin’s form figures on soft ground read 1211 so hopefully he’ll be fine on heavy today and is worth a go in the Without the Favourite market each way. The ground shouldn’t be too bad for Wicklow Brave and he can go well also but at the prices now I’d rather the improver Elgin.

ADVICE – Elgin 1pt EW (7/1) in the Without Buveur D’Air market

Mares’ Hurdle

It will be a shock if Apple’s Jade doesn’t win this as she his without a doubt one of the best Mares in training. La Bague Au Roi has the potential to give her a race with her proven stamina but in her three attempts among much stronger fields she has been a bit disappointing, although she looks a different horse this year, she has a great chance of following the favourite home. I really like Jer’s Girl and back to this trip should see her in better light, I like her chances of reversing the form with La Bague Au Roi from Kempton so could be an each way play at the price.

National Hunt Chase

This contest is going to be an absolute slog there is no two ways about that, but I’ve been keen on No Comment for a few weeks now and I won’t be deserting him. He’s a real high class horse and he made a promising chase debut in a Grade 1 in February, I believe he’s been mapped out for this contest for some while and there is the extra boost of having leading amateur Derek O’Connor on board so I think he’ll go well.

Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

This is a fiercely competitive renewal and I’m having trouble whittling my selections down! Testify should really like this ground but does have to carry top weight, Any Second Now looks very dangerous back in handicap company and stepping up in trip so I think he’s a worthy favourite but his price is probably short enough. The ones I prefer at more appealing prices are Le Rocher who will relish the conditions and who is a past Grade 1 winner, also Rather Be for Nicky Henderson steps up in trip having won a couple of chases very easily but this is tougher. Mister Whitaker sneaks in at the bottom and is on a decent mark so has to be feared. My likely bets at the prices will be Le Rocher and Rather Be, but I certainly wouldn’t put you off the others I mentioned.

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