From Apple’s Jade’s clash with Buveur D’Air, to an open looking Arkle and a hot as hell Supreme Novices’ Hurdle; we’re chomping at the bit for Day One at Cheltenham.
It promises to be a cracking opening day at Prestbury Park, with seven quality contests headlined by the Champion Hurdle at 3:30pm.
Not sure who to back? Sit back and enjoy a little help from us in our seven-pronged selection of Cheltenham Festival Tips.
1:30 Supreme Novices’ Chase – Fakir D’Oudairies(NB)
With early fancy Elixir De Nutz scratched from the running after being found lame on Monday, it’s down to the exciting Fakir D’Oudairies to get us up and running for Joseph O’Brien.
The trainer has been in fine fettle of late after a punching in a number of winners at the Dublin Racing Festival. He’ll fancy his raider’s chances in receipt of 8lb due to his status as a four-year-old.
His form doesn’t look too bad either, following up a Cork victory with a convincing display over slightly further in Grade 2 company around Cheltenham in January.
All of that leads us to believe that the Fakir can end the four-year-old curse in this race and get us off to a flyer in the Supreme.
2:10 The Arkle – Duc Des Genievres
With the British form not looking great and Le Richebourg ruled out through injury, it’s the Irish-trained Duc Des Genievres who gets the nod to give Willie Mullins a fourth Arkle win in five years.
The six-year-old showed a whole chunk of improvement to thrash some decent rivals by 15l over hurdles at Gowran Park last time out. Now he reverts to fences and drops back to 2m.
That shouldn’t prove a problem given his solid third behind Cilaos Emery in a Beginners Chase earlier in the season. And with some tread in the ground, the Buck’s Boom gelding looks a serious player.
2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase – Coo Star Sivola
Never rule out Coo Star Sivola around Cheltenham. Nick Williams’ raider hasn’t been in great form this term but always gives a great account round here – winning once and placing twice.
That success came 12 months ago in this very race. And off just 3lb higher this time around, the seven-year-old can get up again for old pal Lizzie Kelly, who retains the ride.
3:30 Champion Hurdle – Apple’s Jade (NAP)
This is a Champion Hurdle for the ages. But do you back the hat-trick seeking Buveur D’Air, or side with Apple’s Jade, who arguably boasts the better form.
We’ve argued the latter for some time. We’re not about to change that now. Gordon Elliott’s charge has won over 2m 4f, 3m and 2m by a combined 73l this term, disposing of a number of top-class rivals at Grade 1 level in the process.
She’s in seriously fine fettle this time around, unlike last year. And with question marks over who Buveur D’Air has been beating, it’s the wonder-mare – in receipt of 7lb – who’s taken to win the battle and deny Nicky Henderson’s star a third Champion Hurdle crown.
4:10 Mares’ Hurdle – Jester Jet (each-way)
It’s difficult to look past Benie Des Dieux for the Mares’ Hurdle. So we’re targeting the each-way angle with the ultra-consistent Jester Jet at a nice double-figure price.
Tom Lacey’s charge posted a career-best effort to win a Listed event at Haydock last time following a sequence of five runner-up finishes. Make no mistake; this is a big step up in class for the raider.
But he’s got stamina by the bucketload and could run into a place over the 2m 3f distance, especially if the rain comes as expected.
4:50 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap – A Plus Tard
The feeling is that the handicapper might’ve let A Plus Tard off a little bit lightly here. Henry De Bromhead’s charge goes off 144 despite finishing second in a Grade 3 contest at Punchestown last.
He won a tasty Beginners’ Chase prior to that, and having twice won in big field contests, Rachael Blackmore’s mount could find the improvement required to be on the promises over 2m 4f.
5:30 National Hunt Challenge Cup – Whisperinthebreeze (Lively Longshot each-way)
A chance is taken on Whisperinthebreeze for Jessica Harrington. The six-year-old travelled and jumped well when progressing again to win a 13-runner contest at Leopardstown last month.
He’s available at a tasty price and should enjoy the step up to 3m 7½f. This would’ve been the aim for some time, and he should be able to hit the frame for connections in an intriguing contest.
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