Who Are The Horses To Back On Day One Of The Cheltenham Festival?
Fresh from landing a fantastic 18/1 shot on the Players Championship last week, where I successfully tipped Justin Thomas to land the win, I am turning my attention this week to the action set to start at Prestbury Park, otherwise known as the four days of action set to unfold at the Cheltenham Festival.
Any top jumper in the world today will be at the famous track to compete across four days of action, which starts today with Champions Day and culminates on Friday this week with the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
To celebrate this massive horse racing event, what we have done is gone through the card for the first day of the festival and brought your our preview of the race as well as which of the runners we are going to back at the festival.
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Cheltenham Festival Day One Tips
One of the best things about the Cheltenham Festival is that you don’t have to wait to get straight into the mix with some top-quality racing. The action begins with the very first race, the Supreme Novices Hurdle before we then head to the Arkle Challenge Trophy in the second.
The quality just keeps coming with the highlight race of the day being the Champion Hurdle at 3.05pm and then we have three further top-quality races to finish off a stellar first day of action.
Let’s now take a look at head at some of the runners and riders taking part, as well as what our tips our for each of the seven races today.
1.20pm – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
We have a smaller than usual field in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle this year but that does not mean a lack of quality, quite the opposite in fact as two unbeaten horses over jumps this season go head to head. Metier and Appreciate It are the two class acts in the eight horse field with the likes of Ballyadam, Soaring Glory and Blue Lord likely to be competing for the minor places only.
Our Pick – This is a very competitive race to begin the festival and while Metier has an unbeaten record, I think Appreciate It is the horse to back in this race at 4/5 with bet365.
1.55pm – Arkle Challenge Trophy
Unfortunately, we have been robbed of what would have been one of the races of the festival here as Energumene has not been able to participate in the festival this year. That means that the five-horse field looks very much like being a relatively comfortable win for Nicky Henderson’s quality ride Shishkin. Allmankind will likely front run for most of the race but I expect jockey Nico de Boinville to bring home the favourite with relative ease.
Our Pick – This is my nap of the day as the absence of Energumene makes this likely a comfortable win for Shishkin, as the odds of 4/9 with bet365 suggest.
2.30pm – Festival Handicap Chase
We have a few more runners in this race with 16 scheduled to compete and this is very much an open race and one in which I feel we could see our first longer odds winner. Aye Right is a tough competitor and is always usually around the places in most races, while Pym and Milan Native, who won the Kim Muir here last year, are also worth a look. Alnadam, One For The Team and Discordantly are others worth considering, especially each way, while Happygolucky will likely start as the favourite for what looks like a very open and highly competitive race.
Our Pick – This should be a very open race and there are good shouts for a number of competitors in this race, but I do think we see our first longer odds winner here and Alnadam is my pick here at 8/1.
3.05pm – Champion Hurdle
The biggest race of the day sees 10 runners in what is a strong field but for me, there is one horse that stands out as the class act of the field and that is Henry De Bromhead’s Honeysuckle. Having won its first nine races, I do expect this horse to make it 10/10 here. Epatante, Sharjah, Goshen and Abracadabras are likely to be the nearest challengers in the race, but if Honeysuckle is on form, then this should be a relatively comfortable win.
Our Pick – A nice easy one this as I think Honeysuckle is the class act in the field by a considerable margin. I expect Goshen, Abracadabras and Epatante to put in a stern challenge but Honeysuckle’s class should show (11/8 with bet365).
3.40pm – David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle
We have 11 runners competing in the David Nicholson it promises to be an excellent and competitive race. Dame De Compagnie, Black Tears and Minella Melody are all decent shouts for a top three finish, but I think the race for the win will be down to two horses. Concertista is another fine Willie Mullins trained horse that has superb form heading into this event with wins in its last three. Roksana won this race in 2019, and finished fourth last year, but has had improved form since then and it does look like being a battle between the two here.
Our Pick – For me this is a showdown between Roksana and Concertista and while the form of the former has been much improved this season, Concertista has looked well-nigh impossible to beat in its last three races and I think at 11/8, it is the pick here.
4.15pm – Boodles Juvenile Hurdle
With 22 runners in the race, this should be a really competitive Juvenile Hurdle featuring some top quality four-year-olds. Riviere D’etel, Busselton, Saint Sam, Coltor and Homme Public are just some of the runners that will feel that they have a chance in this one. However, Paul Nicholls has a very good record in this race over the years and his runner Houx Gris will likely start as the slight favourite here. This should be a cracking race though and with these youngsters don’t be surprised to see a longer odds selection make a real challenge here with Nassalam one to watch.
Our Pick – Houx Gris seems to be the smart pick here but I like the form of Nassalam a great deal and I think at 18/1, if it is not worth backing on the nose, then I feel it is a very strong each way option.
4.50pm – National Hunt Chase
With 12 runners set to compete, there are a number of good options here. Remastered trained by David Pipe looks a very appealing prospect with three wins this season, while Next Destination is another excellent option with two wins in its last two. Galvin also has a perfect record this season winning all four of its races. Lord Royal and Escaria Ten have their support too in what should be a very competitive end to the day’s racing.
Our Pick – A tough one to call, Next Destination seems to be the pick in many ways but Galvin’s four race winning streak is difficult to overlook and as such, that would be my pick here at 10/3 with bet365.