The Cheltenham Festival is back for another year and our expert tipster has cast his eye over all four days to give you his analysis and views of the highest quality horse racing anywhere in the world.
Cheltenham Festival Day One
Tuesday 16th March
Live on ITV
This is the meeting where all trainers and jockeys want to get at least one winner. Whether you are Willie Mullins or Paul Townend, or a less-heralded trainer and jockey, it means so much to everyone involved and the racing is ultra-competitive.
With large fields across all four days, the opportunity to pick winners is made easier by our expert tipster’s keen eye for the best value and the horses with the best form. A horse with previous good form around Cheltenham is vital in assessing its chance and we have the best horse racing odds available at NetBet.
So, with an action-packed first day in prospect, let’s take a closer look at what our expert tipster has picked and get the latest horse racing tips for day one and begin our Cheltenham race previews.
1.20pm – Supreme Novices Hurdle – 2m
The first race of the Festival always brings that tingle of anticipation and this year is no exception. The Supreme Novices Hurdle is always one of the day one Cheltenham highlights, with the runners usually going off at a frenetic pace in front. Appreciate It, trained by Willie Mullins, is a rock-solid favourite at 6/4 (2.50) and has beaten the best of the Irish so far this term.
He soundly beat Ballyadam, who opposes again, at Leopardstown on his last run and was second in last year’s Champion Bumper. However, we think this valuable prize may stay in England thanks to Metier.
This impressive five-year-old, trained by Harry Fry, sauntered to victory last time out at Sandown and looks good value. With a deluge of rain forecast this week, the predicted easy going will suit Sean Bowen’s mount and he could get this meeting off to a flier for the young trainer/jockey combination.
At longer odds, Soaring Glory could prove the main danger to our selection. He won the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month and the big field won’t faze him.
1.55pm – Arkle Chase – 2m
The Arkle Chase has seen some of the greatest two-mile chasers of all-time win this spectacular spectacle. Moscow Flyer, Well Chief and Azertyuiop all won this before going onto more glory and we think this year’s winner will do the same.
It is hard to look past Shishkin, but this is where our brilliant promotion could come in very handy! We are looking at better value here because you could bet up to £10 and get a £10 Free Bet if your horse finishes second to the starting price favourite.
Let us take a closer look at Shishkin. He won last year’s Supreme Novices Hurdle in superb style, battling on to win by a head from Abracadabras before taking to novice chasing like a duck to water this season. It will take a special horse to beat him.
For the value bet, Allmankind’s style of running will suit this race. He will blaze a trail in front but is a gutsy battler so we can see him sticking on to his task in the closing stages. It should be a real helter-skelter of a race!
2.30pm – Ultima Handicap Chase – 3m1f
Our horse racing tips for day one, thus far, are in races where the cream invariably rises to the top. Now, we take a look at one of the many handicap races of the Festival and they are all as tricky as each other to predict. However, we have picked two horses that we think will hopefully bring home a bit of money!
Although Happygolucky is the favourite at 6/1 (7.00), we think Lieutenant Rocco is an improving sort who will love the hustle and bustle of this race. This six-year-old is young to be taking on a race of this magnitude and he has been novice chasing this term, including a second behind Fusil Raffles at Cheltenham in December.
He won last time out at Ffos Las and his slick jumping from the front will keep him out of trouble. He is the right type for this contest and can ensure the first three winners are all British-trained.
If you fancy a bit more value, then One For The Team could run a big race. He has stamina in abundance and has been tackling three-mile races on flat tracks lately. If the rain comes and it gets soft, he will relish the conditions and could be one to side with on this stiffer course. Each way would be the way to go.
3.05pm – Champion Hurdle – 2m
Another vintage renewal of this race awaits as Honeysuckle, Epatante and Goshen are set to do battle to become the best two-mile hurdler in Great Britain and Ireland.
Honeysuckle is a worthy favourite at 2/1 (3.00) having been unbeaten in all 10 races under rules. She won the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown last month in impressive fashion, beating Abracadabras by 10 lengths. Rachael Blackmore’s mount won the Mares Hurdle at last year’s Festival so is proven round the track.
Epatante won this race easily last year, beating Sharjah by three lengths. However, she suffered a shock defeat to Silver Streak in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day and her jumping wasn’t great that day.
Goshen is the youngest of the three and would have won last year’s Triumph Hurdle by miles had he not slipped at the last flight. Following that, he had two below-par runs before bouncing back to win the Elite Hurdle in brilliant style at Wincanton, which has proved to be a great trial for this race over the years.
With that in mind, and Goshen back in form, we think the youngster has the speed and the strength to see off his two market rivals.
At a longer price, Silver Streak looks a fantastic bet each way. This eight-year-old is in great heart, is proven round Cheltenham and likes the soft ground, which he could get given the inclement weather. He finished sixth last year but we think he will be a lot closer this time round.
3.40pm – Mares Hurdle – 2m3f
Honeysuckle won this race last year and her absence means it is a much more competitive race at the head of the market. Concertista is the favourite and she could be the one to get Willie Mullins off the mark this meeting. She won the Grade 2 Mares Hurdle at last year’s meeting in stylish fashion has won both her races easily this term.
Due to her strong form around Cheltenham and this season, she will be a tough nut to crack so we once again urge you to have a look at our promotion and potentially look for better value.
That could mean Dame de Compagnie comes into contention. She won the competitive Coral Cup at Cheltenham last season and has been novice chasing this term. However, she fell last time out so Nicky Henderson is back with her over hurdles on a track she loves. She will definitely be in contention after the final flight and Concertista could have a race on her hands.
4.15pm – Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle – 2m
This is a race Paul Nicholls has traditionally done well in and he has another live chance to claim another victory with Houx Gris.
Some of the leading protagonists in the betting for this race may go for the Triumph Hurdle later in the week but Houx Gris looks to have this race as his target.
This former French-trained horse ran creditably on his British debut behind leading Triumph hopefuls, Adagio and Nassalam, at Chepstow a couple of months ago.
He comes with a big reputation and Nicholls has done brilliantly with horses of this type over the years. We think this horse could be the one to be on.
The biggest danger will come from Ireland and Mullins has a very good chance with Saint Sam. He has been incredibly consistent this season against the likes of Zanahiyr and Quilixios and will no doubt run his race again.
4.50pm – National Hunt Chase – 3m5f
Another extremely competitive affair to round off all the day one Cheltenham runners and riders and we think this gruelling three-and-a-half-mile race will go the way of the Irish.
We think this race could end up being between Galvin and Latest Exhibition, and we think the latter may cause a minor upset to Ian Ferguson’s horse.
The question mark over Galvin is that he hasn’t run since October when he won easily at Cheltenham over three miles. Five months is a long break and the horses need to come in here fighting fit and battle-hardened.
Latest Exhibition has some rock-solid form coming up against the classy Monkfish and he should relish this marathon test. He jumps well and trainer Paul Nolan could be celebrating a Cheltenham winner on day one.
For a longshot, the Mullins-trained Lord Royal looks an interesting entry. He is an unexposed type and despite a couple of defeats in novice chases earlier this season, no-one is better than Mullins at preparing a horse for the biggest races. This six-year-old could run a big race at 12/1 (13.00).
With the Cheltenham Festival just days away, take a look at the rest of our sports betting that you can enjoy with us at NetBet!
*Odds subject to change