The Greatest Show on Earth is back! The 160th edition of the Cheltenham Festival will begin on Tuesday 10th March and run until Friday 13th March 2020. There should be some captivating performances and thrilling racing to keep punters entertained and once again the Irish-trained horses look set to do well throughout the four doors.
This is what jumps trainers and jockeys live for – four whole days of breathtaking action in the English countryside. The highlight of Cheltenham’s day 1 is the Champion Hurdle and we give you our insight into what horses we think have great chances over the course of day one.
Here are our Cheltenham tips for the day’s racing:-
1:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle (Grade One) 2m 1/2f
The traditional curtain raiser is the Supreme Novices Hurdle and it is always a wonderful spectacle with the famous Cheltenham roar getting the runners as the tape goes up.
ENVOI ALLEN is the hot favourite to win for trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Davy Russell. He is currently 9/4 and has been very impressive in his first season of hurdling, remaining unbeaten. He has course form and looks rock-solid following his Champion Bumper win last year.
The best of the British runners looks to be Nicky Henderson’s SHISHKIN at 6/1. He won very easily at Huntingdon on his last outing and could be the biggest danger. For a bigger price, ALLART, also for Henderson, has looked the part and at 18/1, he could go well.
Supreme Novices Hurdle tip: ALLART E/W – 18/1
2:10 Arkle Challenge Trophy (Grade One) 2m
A smaller field than the first race but no easier to predict in this intriguing contest. NOTEBOOK is a worthy favourite at 5/2 and beat main market rival FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
Henry De Bromhead trains Notebook in Ireland and his seven-year-old has won his last four races in superb style and he will be tough to beat.
With CASH BACK at 6/1 in the betting behind FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES and NOTEBOOK, Ireland have a strong hand. Looking further down the betting, ESPRIT DU LARGE at 12/1 could be a good bet each way. He won nicely at Sandown last time and has strong form heading into this.
Arkle Challenge Trophy tip: ESPRIT DU LARGE E/W – 12/1
2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m1f
A very tough contest to pick the winner from in this ultra-competitive renewal of this big handicap chase. VINNDICATION is the favourite at 13/2 and he has had a lightly-raced campaign heading into this race. He won easily at Ascot in November and looks to have a great chance for trainer Kim Bailey.
THE CONDITIONAL is next in the list at 17/2. He had a great start to the season, winning at Cheltenham before a great second at Newbury in November. However, he ran poorly when favourite at Warwick last time out so has some questions to answer.
However, we think DISCORAMA at 10/1 looks to be a solid pick. He ran well behind Gold Cup fancy Delta Work last April and has had wind surgery since his last run in Ireland before Christmas. Normally, horses who have had that kind of surgery do well on their next run so he could be one on the right side of the handicapper.
Ultima Handicap Chase tip: DISCORAMA – 10/1
3:30 Champion Hurdle (Grade One) 2m 1/2f
The showpiece race of the first day usually attracts a small, but quality, field and this year is no exception. EPATANTE is the favourite at 10/3 and he has looked unbeatable in his two wins this season. However, he has reportedly been coughing in the yard of trainer Nicky Henderson recently, although it has been reported he remains on course for the race.
The second favourite is HONEYSUCKLE at 9/2 and she is unbeaten in all seven races. She won the Irish Champion Hurdle in grand style in February and we think she can overturn the favourite on the strength of her form in Ireland. SUPASUNDAE at 11/1 will be there or thereabouts.
Champion Hurdle tip: HONEYSUCKLE – 9/2
4:10 Mares Hurdle (Grade One) 2m4f
BENIE DES DIEUX can get Willie Mullins on the board for the Festival. She is a hot favourite to land this renewal in a race Mullins has won so often in the past with the likes of Quevega. She is 8/11 and should be good enough to see of her challengers.
At a bigger price, the one we like is SILVER FOREVER at 16/1. She has steadily improved as the season has progressed and put a good field in a mares’ hurdle at Sandown in January. The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old could be next best.
Mares Hurdle tip: SILVER FOREVER E/W – 16/1
4:50 Novices Handicap Chase (Listed) 2m 4 1/2f
As is the way with Cheltenham, the handicaps are often the toughest races to pick a winner from and this looks to be just as tough. IMPERIAL AURA is the slight favourite at 6/1. Kim Bailey’s seven-year-old has finishes runner-up in his last two outings at Cheltenham and is a consistent type for this race.
HOLD THE NOTE could be one to side with here. The 10/1 shot ran well in a Grade Two race at Warwick, finishing a narrow second. A repeat of that would see him go very close here. GALVIN has a good chance at 13/2, coming over from across the Irish Sea for this race.
Novices Handicap Chase tip: HOLD THE NOTE – 10/1
5:30 National Hunt Chase (Grade Two) 4m
Cheltenham day 1 concludes with this gruelling four-mile chase and it is important to side with a horse who can stay these marathon distances. LORD DU MESNIL at 10/1 ticks all the boxes. He is an experienced stayer and is in the form of his life for trainer Richard Dobson.
CAREFULLY SELECTED is a warm 15/8 favourite for Willie Mullins but has only won once at 3m. BATTLEOVERDOYEN has similar credentials to the favoutite but there are doubts about the trip.
National Hunt Chase tip: LORD DU MESNIL – 10/1