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Cheltenham Festival 2019 – Day 1 Tips

Day one of the Cheltenham Festival gets underway with the usual curtain raiser to the great event, the Supreme.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle     ITV

This year’s renewal is dominated by a pair of Dai Walters runners in the shape of Al Dancer and ANGELS BREATH.

The money has come for Angel Breath in the last few days and we can see why given the forecast conditions and the track record of Nicky Henderson in the race.

This horse clearly needed his latest start at Kempton, and the good ground and flat track won’t have played to his strengths anything like as much as this stiff two miles on likely rain softened going. He looks the one to beat and amongst the market leaders we think he has more to fear from the four year old, FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES than Al Dancer.

This French recruit gets a handy weight allowance and could kick start a meeting to remember for his young trainer, Joseph O’Brien (who might be worth a small interest in the leading trainer market). This horse impressed when winning here in January and should be able to handle any worsening of the ground. His age group have a reasonable record in the race too.

We think the pair have the race between them with Felix Desjy, Aramon and Brandon Castle interesting outsiders.

William Hill are offering 7 places for each-way bets on this race.

Angels Breath (ew)1.30 Cheltenham9/2William Hill
Fakir D’oudairies (ew)1.30 Cheltenham11/2William Hill

All odds quoted are subject to change

Arkle Trophy     ITV

The two mile championship for novice hurdlers is followed by the two mile championship for novice chasers and this year’s Arkle looks wide open with the division currently lacking a real star.

If the ground does turn very soft then the proven stamina of DUC DES GENIEVRES could be a big plus and this horse couldn’t have been more impressive when winning at Gowran Park last time out for the maestro, Willie Mullins.

This test will surely also suit KALASHNIKOV better than any he has so far faced over fences and we haven’t lost faith is a horse we tipped for last season’s Supreme and still think can develop into a Gold Cup horse of the future. His best run over hurdles came on soft ground in the Betfair Hurdle last season.

Another Joseph O’Brien runner, US AND THEM looks the pick of the outsider as he is ultra-consistent and has been showing up well in the some classy novice chases in Ireland throughout the winter.

BetVictor are offering 4 places for each-way bets on this race.

Duc Des Genievres (ew)2.10 Cheltenham13/2BetVictor
 Kalashnikov (ew)2.10 Cheltenham9/1Ladbrokes
Us And Them (ew)2.10 Cheltenham14/1BetVictor

All odds quoted are subject to change

Ultima Handicap Chase     ITV

The Festival’s first handicap is the Ultima at 2.50pm and this could turn into a real slog with few finishers if we get the rain that has been forecast.

There is a slight stamina doubt over CALIPTO, so that rain may not be good news for him, but we still think the Venetia Williams trained nine year old is a chaser on the up and worth following. Williams also has her horses in fine form again and she has an excellent Festival record in these handicaps.

This horse won for us at Ascot last time out and we can’t desert him here.

The same is true of a horse that could prove to be his main rival this afternoon, MISTER WHITAKER. We tipped him to win the Close Brothers at last season’s meeting and Mick Channon’s chaser can improve again now stepped up to three miles.

Pick of the outsiders could be the unexposed, BIG RIVER, who was running well behind Lake View Lad at Newcastle in December before falling at the tenth. He meets that rival on much better terms today.

General Principle, Up For Review and Beware The Bear were also on the shortlist.

Paddy Power are offering 6 places for each-way bets for this race.

Calipto (ew)2.50 Cheltenham20/1Paddy Power
Mister Whitaker (ew)2.50 Cheltenham8/1Ladbrokes
Big River (ew)2.50 Cheltenham25/1Paddy Power

All odds quoted are subject to change

Champion Hurdle     ITV

We spent the night before the 2017 Champion Hurdle debating whether to tip BRAIN POWER or Buveur D’Air. Unfortunately, we picked the wrong one and the rest is history with Buveur D’Air going on to win the race again last year, whilst Brain Power was plying his trade over fences and following Footpad home in the Arkle.

However, Brain Power came back to form over hurdles with a bang over this course last time out and could he finally have his big day here. To us, he looks the best value in a very competitive renewal of the day’s feature race.

He and Espoir D’Allen appear the only two in the field capable of upsetting the big three and preference is for the Henderson runner as he is truly top class on his day.

Of the trio at the head of the market, the one we like most is LAURINA.

She may be a less obvious choice than her rivals at the head of the betting given Buveur D’Air’s track record and Apple Jade’s imperious form so far this season, but we have never seen a horse win a race at the Festival as easily as Laurina did a year ago and she has untold potential.

There is also no doubt that Messrs Mullins and Walsh wouldn’t be aiming this high with their star mare unless she had been showing them plenty at home. The forecast rain may suit her even more than the other favourites.

Brain Power (ew)3.30 Cheltenham33/1Bet365
Laurina (ew)3.30 Cheltenham15/4Betfair

All odds quoted are subject to change

Our tips in the later races are:

Limini (ew)4.10 Cheltenham9/1Bet365
Elimay (ew)4.10 Cheltenham25/1William Hill
Momella (ew)4.10 Cheltenham20/1Bet365
Riders On the Storm (ew)4.50 Cheltenham8/1William Hill
Tower Bridge (ew)4.50 Cheltenham8/1Bet365
Red Indian (ew)4.50 Cheltenham20/1Bet365
Discorama (ew)5.30 Cheltenham6/1Bet365
Skipthecuddles (ew)5.30 Cheltenham50/1Ladbrokes
Le Breuil (ew)5.30 Cheltenham14/1Bet365

All odds quoted are subject to change