Monday 26 February 2018

Cheltenham Festival Champion Day Preview

We are now just a fortnight away from the most important National Hunt meeting in the calendar and excitement among punters is palpable. They will join celebrities and royals in descending upon the west of England for the Cheltenham Festival and it promises to be another exhilarating meeting. It begins with Champion Day on Tuesday, March 13, when fans can look forward to no fewer than four Grade 1 races. Considering there are only 40 during the entire season, to have a tenth of them clustered on just one day ensures that Champion Day is a revered event.
Last year we witnessed a fascinating Day One as The Greatest Show on Earth returned with a bang, packed full of drama and intrigue, heroes and villains. Nicky Henderson’s Buveur d’Air beat stablemate My Tent Or Yours to win the feature race of the day, the Champion Hurdle. That gave owner JP McManus a record 50th win at the Festival, and vindicated Henderson’s insistence on switching Buveur d’Air back to smaller obstacles. It was also a glorious day for Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, who won three of the seven races that take place on Champions Day.

Elliott landed the first race of the meeting, the Grade 1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, through 25/1 shot Labaik. He doubled up when Apple’s Jade claimed the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and then saw Tiger Roll win the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase at 16/1. 

Elliott was named leading trainer at last year’s March Festival. He and Irish rival Willie Mullins both claimed six winners, but Elliott enjoyed more places and ended Mullins’ four-year winning streak. Their supremacy ensured Ireland also secured a record Prestbury Cup win over Great Britain.

This year, Mullins, Henderson and Elliott are the three frontrunners in the betting lines to be named leading trainer, and each man will be desperate to get off to a strong start on Day One. It should be another great day for Henderson as the seemingly invincible Buveur d’Air is the heavy favourite to win the Champion Hurdle once again. The French-born seven-year-old bay gelding extended his winning run to nine when he seized the Listed Contenders Hurdle at Sandown on February 3. He is well in front in the betting to win the Champion Hurdle, and is widely expected to win it ahead of Faugheen, My Tent Or Yours and Yorkwell. Henderson also saddles the favourites in the Gold Cup and Queen Mother Champion Chase and his runners are sure to attract a lot of attention in the horse racing spread betting.

The other Grade 1 races on Champion Day are the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Arkle Challenge Trophy and the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle. Apple’s Jade has been magnificent since her Cheltenham heroics last year, winning four out of four, including the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown last time out. She is the odds-on favourite to deliver more joy for Elliott in the Mares’ Hurdle, but must contend with Mullins’ Let’s Dance. Last year Altior won the Arkle for Henderson and he is now the favourite to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase this time around. Another Mullins charge, Footpad, heads the betting for this year’s Arkle after a strong Grade 1 win ahead of Petit Mouchoir at Leopardstown earlier this month.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle looks wide open once again, despite Getabird’s status as the heavy favourite, and it might be worth looking at some longer shots. Sharjah has attracted a lot of attention at 20/1, as has Claimantankinforgan at 16/1. Racegoers can also look forward to the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase, another contest with a really open field and the possibility for plenty of interesting each-way shots. Presenting Percy is the favourite for the National Hunt Chase, but it might be worth taking a look at Mall Dini, a 16/1 shot who is taking plenty of action. The day closes with the Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase, which also has no clear favourite and plenty of runners clustered around the 10/1 to 16/1 mark. McManus’ Movewiththetimes is an interesting 20/1 shot in this race.
Overall, it promises to be another spectacular day, replete with merriment, drama and magnificent hats. After a 12-month wait, it will be spine tingling to hear the Cheltenham Roar once again, and it will surely usher in another exciting Festival.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Top 10 Most Liked Winners At The 2018 Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest meeting of the year in national hunt racing and one in which racing fans look forward to the most. Here is a list of the 10 most likely winners at this year’s meeting next month.
10. Willoughby Court – JLT Novices Chase (5/1)

Last season’s Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle winner Willoughby Court has made a strong start to his chase career with three victories from his open four starts. His only defeat over fences came on heavy ground which he did not enjoy. He can avenge that loss on Good going at the Festival next month.

9. Burning Ambition – Foxhunters Chase (9/2)
Burning Ambition is the 9/2 favourite in the Oddschecker ante-post comparison page for the Foxhunters Chase. The seven-year-old has shown excellent form in Ireland this season and looks to be the horse they all have to beat here.
8. Apple’s Shakira – Triumph Hurdle (7/2)
Nicky Henderson’s four-year-old hurdle has won all three of her starts this season, all of which have come at Cheltenham. The combined length those of victories is over 26 lengths therefore it is easy to see why she is many people’s best bet of the Festival.
7. Might Bite – Cheltenham Gold Cup (3/1)
Last year’s RSA Chase winner has demonstrated this season why he is good enough to score in the Blue Riband event of the Festival, with the highlight of campaign being his victory in the King George VI Chase.
6. Un De Sceaux – Ryanair Chase (11/4)
Un De Sceaux is a two-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival and goes into the Ryanair Chase as the defending champion. The Irish chaser should be too quick for his rivals in this 2m5f contest.
5. Laurina – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (2/1)
Willie Mullins has been so dominant with his mares in recent years at the Festival and it looks like he has another potential superstar on his hands here with Laurina.
4. Altior – Queen Mother Champion Chase (8/11)

2017 Arkle winner Altior is 7 from 7 over fences and it hard to see his 100% record going in the Champion Chase where the challenge against him does not look very strong.
3. Samcro – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (4/5)
There has been a lot of debate over with race Samcro should line up in at the Festival where the betting points to the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Whichever contest he features in, he should win as he is a class above the novice hurdlers.
2. Apple’s Jade – Mares’ Hurdle (4/7)
Apple’s Jade won the Mares’ Hurdle in 2017 in a hot race. This time around the task should be easier for the Irish raider.
1. Buveur D’Air – Champion Hurdle (4/9)
The banker of the Festival this year is Buveur D’Air who is bidding to defend his title in the Champion Hurdle. There is nothing we have seen in the division this season to suggest the 2017 winner will not be able to prevail again.
Enjoy the racing at the Festival and good luck if you are having a bet.

Thursday 1 February 2018

Favourites at Cheltenham

Taken from Cheltenham 2016 over the 15th to 18th March period, the above info details the successes and failures of favourites at the Cheltenham Festival over the years. The take home is that is you just so happened to be a fan of favourites during the 2016 Cheltenham Festival you'd be sitting pretty, but if you took that tack in the following years, who might have wishes you'd left your wallet at home, rather than taking it to the course!