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Cheltenham Festival 2018 – Day 1 Tips

At last the wait is over, but this year’s Cheltenham Festival looks set to start on some of the worst ground in living memory, so there could be plenty of shocks over the four days.

Champion Hurdle     ITV

One of the short price favourites who should be suited by conditions is the reigning champion hurdler, Buveur D’Air, and he looks set for back to back triumphs in day one’s feature contest at 3.30pm.

Nicky Henderson’s seven year old just looks a class apart in the hurdling division currently, but the way to back him is surely in some accumulators with other horses.

The other previous winner lining up this afternoon is Faugheen, who looked sure to post multiple successes in this race after running away with the crown in 2016.  However, things haven’t gone “The Machine’s” way since then and his stuttering return to form this season makes him hard to fancy at unattractive odds.

If there is to be a surprise, then another Willie Mullins raider might provide it and both Wicklow Brave and MELON have chances.

The former is a bit of a monkey and can often ruin his race at the start, but he has run well here before. Preference, though, is for Melon, who seemed to resent the hood when tried in it last time out.

He was second in last season’s Supreme, and ran well here December behind My Tent Or Yours and The New One. He pulled too hard that day, and was conceding six pounds to the winner, so to be beaten only a couple of lengths was a good effort.

Melon (ew)3.30 Cheltenham18/1Betfair

All odds quoted are subject to change

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle     ITV

The action kicks off with the traditional curtain raiser, the Supreme, and the ground has come in favour of long term favourite, Getabird.

However, we are sticking with KALASHNIKOV who did us such a big favour at Newbury recently.  He proved he could handle the going that day and it is the best piece of form on offer.

If the ground rides really soft, then the supplemented FIRST FLOW is also interesting for a resurgent Kim Bailey. He is very well thought of at home and he sluices through the mud.

There are also a host of runners at massive prices who could easily out-run their odds. They include Debuchet (second in last season’s Champion Bumper), the Colin Tizzard pair of Lostintranslation and Slate House, and US AND THEM.

With plenty of bookies offering four places, including Bet365, it is worth and interest in one of them and preference is for Us And Them for a young trainer who excels with the runners he pitches in at the deep end.

Kalashnikov (ew)1.30 Cheltenham11/2Bet365
First Flow (ew)1.30 Cheltenham14/1Bet365
Us And Them (ew)1.30 Cheltenham40/1Bet365

All odds quoted are subject to change

Arkle Trophy     ITV

Next up is the Arkle, where the smallest field in the history of the race is set to go to post.

The ground has come right for Saint Calvados, who we tipped up when he won the Kingmaker at Warwick last time out. However, his yard is in worryingly bad form, so it is hard to look beyond the favourite, FOOTPAD.

He beat Petit Mouchoir fair and square at Leopardstown last time out, and will be better suited by the ground than Henry De Bromhead’s gelding.

Brain Power remains unexposed over fences, but surely wants a sounder surface.

Footpad (win)2.10 Cheltenham11/10Ladbrokes

All odds quoted are subject to change

Ultima Handicap Chase     ITV

The meeting’s first big handicap is the Ultima, where Coo Star Sivola heads the betting after an impressive win at Exeter last time out. A 7lbs hike in the weights may well not be enough to stop him and he has very solid claims for an in form handler.

However, he was a few lengths behind SHANTOU FLYER when the two clashed here on Trials Day and Shantou Flyer is actually better off at the weights, so he has to come into the equation too. He love it around Cheltenham, has plenty of heavy ground form and has the first time visor on to try to eek out some further improvement.

Cogry is another course and distance performer, and his proven stamina at longer trip will surely be a huge advantage today as will low weight of 10st 9lbs, but slight preference is for another strong stayer, VINTAGE CLOUDS, who was running well in this last year when falling four out. He has looked a better horse this campaign.

MINELLA DADDY is the other one to back as he has a big race in him and is still on the upgrade.

Ramses De Teillee was the other one on the shortlist.

 Shantou Flyer (ew)
2.50 Cheltenham16/1Bet365
 Vintage Clouds (ew)2.50 Cheltenham9/1Bet365
 Minella Daddy (ew)2.50 Cheltenham20/1Bet365

All odds quoted are subject to change

Mares Hurdle     ITV

The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle is at 4.10pm and Apples Jade will be looking to follow in Quevega’s might hoof prints by becoming a multiple winner of the race. She is a very short price for a reason, but the Mullins raider, BENIE DES DIEUX, is unexposed and capable of causing a minor upset.

At a massive price, MIDNIGHT TOUR might be able to sneak a place as she is a tough and thorough stayer.

Benie Des Dieux (ew)4.10 Cheltenham9/2Bet365
Midnight Tour (ew)4.10 Cheltenham66/1Bet365

All odds quoted are subject to change

Our tips in the later races are:

Mossback (ew)4.50 Cheltenham6/1Unibet
Rathvinden (ew)4.50 Cheltenham6/1Unibet
Mister Whitaker (ew)5.30 Cheltenham7/1Bet365
 De Plotting Shed (ew)5.30 Cheltenham15/2Betfair
Kayf Adventure (ew)5.30 Cheltenham 40/1Ladbrokes

All odds quoted are subject to change