Day One gets underway with a bang!
After all the build-up, it’s finally here, Champions Day of the Cheltenham Festival 2015 is now upon us!
Here’s our man’s tips for the day, best of luck with your bets!
1.30 Cheltenham – Sky Bet Supreme Novices´ Hurdle
We hope we’ll kick off the Cheltenham Festival in style with L’AMI SERGE. Nicky Henderson’s horse has done all that has been asked of him this season.
The son of King’s Theatre has top-class form in the book, plenty of experience and finds plenty for pressure. The only slight worry is his jumping, but with the excellent Barry Geraghty on board our concerns are minimal.
2pts win L’AMI SERGE @ 11/4
2.05 Cheltenham – Racing Post Arkle
No doubt this race revolves around Un De Sceaux; quite simply, he is the best horse in the race. Willie Mullins’s inmate comes with risks, however, having no Cheltenham form, running on the fastest ground he’s encountered and having headstrong temperament questions to answer. There looks to be value in taking him on.
Three horses stand out at the prices for us; Clarcam, Smashing and Three Kingdoms. Of the trio CLARCAM looks the most solid given he is a fluid, quick jumper. This ability will obviously stand him in good stead and with connections feeling he’ll improve for better ground he should outrun his odds.
Three Kingdom’s (20/1) is a ridiculously big price in comparison to the second favourite Vibrato Valtat (6/1) based on their Kempton run, but despite this, at the prices, SMASHING is the horse we’ll side with. Henry De Bromhead won this race with Sizing Europe back in 2010 with the same owners and he’ll be hoping lightening can strike twice.
He still remains an unknown quantity over fences and with sound Cheltenham Festival form already in the book he can run well. The prospect of better ground can also improve him.
1pt each-way CLARCAM @ 16/1
1pt each-way SMASHING @ 22/1
2.40 Cheltenham – Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase
As you can imagine, all Cheltenham Festival handicaps will be competitive, big field events. The two we like in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase are GRAND JESTURE and INDIAN CASTLE. The former is another Henry De Bromhead horse who may be able outrun his price.
The son of Gold Well has improved for fences and some of his Irish form this season looks useful. He travels strongly so the Old Course will play to his strengths. The fact his jockey Johnathon Burke can claim three pounds is a big positive. The only worry we have is he a strong enough stayer, but at the price he looks worth chancing.
Indian Castle is another who looks worth a play at a big price. Sent off a 7/2 favourite for last year’s Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham he could only finish a well-beaten seventh. His finishing position doesn’t tell the true story, however, as he ran a much better race than the distance beaten suggests.
Now a year stronger/older, down in trip slightly and reverting to the speedier Old Course it should suit him much better. He had a lovely preparation run at Carlisle last time out and with Ian Williams among the winners we’re hoping Indian Castle can run well.
1pt win GRAND JESTURE @ 28/1
1pt each-way INDIAN CASTLE @ 22/1
3.20 Cheltenham – Stan James Champion Hurdle
The day’s big race and the most prestigious hurdle event in national hunt racing is the Stan James Champion Hurdle. Willie Mullins’s Faugheen looks a potential star in the making, but this is by far his toughest test to date.
The probability of him getting an easy lead enhances his chance significantly, especially with Ruby Walsh on board, but at the price we’ll take him on with the reigning champion JEZKI who has his favoured fast ground for the first time all season.
Still only seven-year-olds there is no reason not believe he is still not improving, people forget he is the same age as Faugheen, but already has a Champion Hurdle on his CV. He’ll need a strong gallop to show his best, but regardless he looks the value play.
2pts each-way JEZKI @ 5/1
4.00 Cheltenham – OLBG Mares´ Hurdle
This race is all about the return of ANNIE POWER. Willie Mullins’s star mare has had an injury interrupted campaign and has her first run in 311 days, but she is poles apart from the others in terms of ability in this field. She’s a real racy mare and the Old Course over this two-and-a-half miles will really suit her. She should win, but you didn’t need us to tell you that at the prices.
2pts Win ANNIE POWER @ 4/6
4.40 Cheltenham – Toby Balding National Hunt Chase
Not a race we have a strong opinion in, but two Irish horses that offer a touch of value are PERFECT GENTLEMAN and THE JOB IS RIGHT. The former has had this race as his target for quite a while. Michael Hourigan feels his charge is tailor-made for this stamina-sapping contest and top Irish amateur Derek O’Connor is a positive booking.
Despite being ten-years-old Willie Mullins’s horse has only had 15 career runs. He’s obviously been a hard horse to keep right, but the fact he has run four consecutive races this season is a positive. Willie Mullins likes to target this race with a nice ride for his son and assistant trainer Patrick so with Perfect Gentleman shaping like a stayer who will enjoy the good ground he gets our vote.
1pt win PERFECT GENTLEMAN @ 11/1
1pt win THE JOB IS RIGHT @ 9/1
5.15 Cheltenham – CHAPS Restaurants Barbados Novices´ Handicap Chase
We finish a great day’s racing with another competitive handicap. Two horses we like at the prices are COLD MARCH and STELLAR NOTION. The former is an expensive French recruit who has been in good form this season. He’ll need to up his game, but he appears to be a sound jumper and being five remains unexposed. He has shaped like a better race will bring out in the best in him so Venetia William’s horse may outrun his price.
The return to better ground should suit Stellar Notion who looked to get bogged down on his last start. That was on the New Course, but a return to today’s sharper track will aid his forward-going style. His victory back at Kempton was impressive and with him being such a big horse he should still be progressing.
1pt win COLD MARCH @ 33/1
1pt win STELLAR NOTION @ 12/1