1.30 Asterion Forlonge 3-1
2.10 Fakir D’Oudairies 4-1
2.50 Discorama 8-1 & Cobra De Mai 16-1 ( 6 places with bookies)
3.30 Epatante 7-2
4.10 Benie Des Dieux 8-11
4.50 Galvin 15-2 & Champagne Court 25-1 (Notebook) ( 4/5/6 places with bookies )
5.30 Lord Du Mesnil 7-1 ( 4 places with Ladbrokes)
* Tuesday looks very competitive in my opinion with some big field handicaps and tricky races.
Lucky 15 – 1.30 Asterion Forlonge 11-4, 2.10 Fakir D’Oudairies 4-1, 3.30 Epatante 10-3, 4.10 Benie Des Dieux 8-13 ( @bet365)
E/w Trixie – 2.50 Discorama 8-1 , 4.50 Galvin 13-2 , 5.30 Lord Du Mesnil 7-1 ( @skybet)
Few bookie offers that might interest people –
(1) Risk Free bet and money as cash up to £10 if your horse loses first race on Tuesday with @Skybet
(2) Money back as a free bet up to £10 if your horse finishes 2nd,3rd or 4th in ALL races on Tuesday with @paddypower
(3) William Hill paying 7 places on first race on Tuesday
(4) £20 free bet via mobile on Betfair Exchange if you back a horse £20 in the 1.30 Tuesday
(5) Bet365 – Back a 4-1 or bigger priced winner on ITV and get a free bet up to £50 on the next ITV race (Tuesday-Friday).
Day 1 Tuesday 10th March
1.30 Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle (Grade 1 )
This is the race that kick off proceedings at the festival with the famous roar. The Irish have an outstanding record in the race having won 16 out of the last 28 proceedings. Eleven of the last 14 favorites that were sent off 2-1 or shorter in this race have been beaten. Also do note that last time out winners have won 20 of the last 23 renewals of this race.
The Tolworth Hurdle is a race that has produced few good Cheltenham winners recently and is one to look at closely. Fiddlerontheroof won the 2020 version by six lengths and his performance was very pleasing and his time was very good on the clock too. I think he has a decent place claims if there is soft or heavy in the going. He made his debut at Chepstow in the Persian War where he was a good second behind Thyme Hill who subsequently went on to win a Grade 2 at Cheltenham and then won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury. He then finished 2nd behind Edwardstone before winning his last 2 races at Sandown. There is some substance to his form and he would be thereabouts if he gets his ground conditions.
Willie Mullins has an outstanding record in the race having won it four times in the last 7 years with the likes of Champagne Fever, Douvan, Vautour and our winner of last year Klassical Dream. He also had 3 of the last 4 beaten favorites in the race. The Chanelle Pharma race in Ireland is the best guide for the Irish and it was won by Asterion Forlonge. Whenever Willie Mullins has sent the winner of that race to the Supreme they have always won (3/3). Klassical Dream was the latest one to achieve the feat. Asterion Forlonge is unbeaten in three starts this season and has that progressive profile about him. He made his debut at Thurles in a bumper race and his latest win was in the Dublin festival Grade 1 race where he destroyed the field with consummate ease. He looked really good that day and stayed on powerfully at the end. On what we have seen so far he looked the type that will have no problem with the Cheltenham hill. He has an outstanding chance and will be primed for the race.
Nicky Henderson main hope in race this season is Shishkin. He fell on his hurdling debut at Newbury but has won his last 2 starts very easily. He looked visually impressive in those races and he is highly rated at the yard too. He is a sound jumper and travels really well in his races. He will probably go off favorite in a race that Nicky has only won once with the mighty Altior few years ago but he had like 11 places with his horses in the last 11 years. Since 2008 horses that have won this race have ran more than twice over hurdles and it is something both Shishkin and Asterion Forlonge will be trying to overcome. In fact the last 11 winners of this race had all ran four times or more before taking the Supreme route.
Abacadabras will fly the flag for Gordon Elliot yard and he finihsed 4th in the champion bumper won by his stablemate Envoi Allen last year. He made his seasonal debut at Gowran Park and has never been out of the top 2 since. He then went on to win the Grade 3 at Navan where he had Latest Exhibition in 2nd. The latter went on to win the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors at the Dublin festival. Abacadabras ran a solid race behind mighty Envoi Allen in the Royal Bond and was only beaten by a better horse on the day. He finally won his Grade 1 over Xmas when he destroyed the field to win the Future Champions Novice Hurdle. As you can see Abacadabras bring some solid form to the table and he is a serious contender. I don’t think Envoi Allen will turn out here unless the ground is really testing. Of the rest I will give small squeaks to Chantry House and Captain Guinness if they line out here.
Selection – Asterion Forlonge 3-1
2.10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novice Chase
This is a race for novices over the 2 mile on the old course. It is a race designed to test horses ability to jump efficiently and go as fast as possible. It has been a race that has been very profitable for favorite backers in recent years. The likes of Altior, Douvan, Footpad & Un De Sceaux have all won this race at odds on. 14 of the last 18 winners had won a Grade 1 or 2 over fences earlier in the season.
Cheltenham form is crucial as 12 of the last 19 winners had run at the course before and four of the past 13 winners had won at the previous season’s festival. Willie Mullins has won this race four times in the last five years. Of the last 29 winners, 25 have started at no bigger than 11/1 with 16 of those being in the top 4 in the market. The Henry VIII Novices Chase ( Esprit Du Large) and the Wayward Novice Chase at Kempton ( Global Citizen won) have featured 3 winners of the Arkle in the last 15 years. The Arkle Novice Chase won by Notebook at Leopardstown has been the Irish best guide since it has featured ten of their last 12 Arkle winners.
Notebook heads the betting and represents the Henry De Bromhead yard. He is unbeaten this season in four starts. He won the Grade 2 race at Punchestown when he stayed on strongly to beat Moon Over Germany. He was then sent to the Racing Post Novice Chase and he came of age when despite giving weight to Fakir D’Oudairies and jumping slightly right at times he still managed to win. He then won his second Grade 1 at the same track when he just got the better of Willie Mullins’s cash back who re opposes here. There wasn’t much between them at the end but Notebook looked a very good stayer and he would relish that Cheltenham hill in my opinion.
Fakir D’Oudairies has long been favorite for this race till he got beat by Notebook over Xmas. He was 4th in the Supreme last year and then beaten by Fusil Raffles in the Grade 1 at Punchestown. He made his chase debut at Navan where he jumped beautifully throughout and won very nicely. His next assignment was the Grade 1 Drinmore Chase where he showed his class to win by 20 lengths. It was visually a very good performance as he pinged every fence with such consummate ease. But since getting beat by Notebook over Xmas he hasn’t been seen since but he goes well fresh in the race and will give you a good run for your money.
Cash Back made his chase debut at Navan and followed up at Naas in impressive fashion. He then ran Notebook close in the Grade 1 at Leopardstown and he has a progressive profile about him. He is an each way bet to nothing if you fancy him as he will give you a run for your money. The only slight doubt I have about him is he can make jumping mistakes.
Brewinupastorm is from the Olly Murphy yard and has been kept fresh for race. He only ran twice this season and hasn’t been seen since his win at Taunton. Though he did win both of his races over fences I am not too sure about his jumping and he doesn’t strike me as a horse that has that touch of class that will can help him win a big race. The stats are against Global Citizen ( only two runs over fences ) and also against Esprit Du Large & Brewinupastorm ( not had a run since Xmas). Maire Banrigh is such a wonderful mare and one we follow. She is still unbeaten but the fact that the last mare to have won this race was in 1980 puts me off ! I can’t see any upsets in this race unless we have a Western Warhorse in the field.
Selection – Fakir D’Oudairies 4-1
2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase
This is one of the toughest and trickiest handicap races of the festival. It has been a real graveyard for favorite backers as only 3 of them have won since 1977. Second favorites have a good record in the race too having won it nine times since 1984 and 13 winners since 2000 could be found in the first four in the betting. Novices have a good record in the race having won 6 times in the last 15 runnings.
It’s also important to note that nine of the last 20 winners had finished in the first four at this meeting before and to respect last time out winners as they have provided the winner on seven occasions in the last 15 years. Jonjo O’Neil has a cracking record in race having won three of the last ten runnings with 2 of those successes coming for the green and gold silks of JP Mcmanus. Other trainers that like targeting this race are David Pipe , Alan King and Neil Mulholland. So do take note of horses they will be sending for this race.
Another nice stat is that seven of the last eight winners have ran in headgear. Do take note of horses trying headgear for the first time or switching headgear. Paul Nichols record in the race is shocking as he is 0/23! Another good stat is the fact that ten of the last 22 winners have finished in the first four at this meeting before. Irish trained horses are 0/21 since winning the race in 2006. The last 4 winners of this race have all ran on Trials Day in January
Selection – Discorama 8-1 & Cobra De Mai 16-1
3.30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
This is one of the most anticipated races of the festival and most eagerly awaited. The true test of the two mile hurdler. the key to the Champion Hurdle is often fluent hurdling. Jumping at speed is crucial and the great champions like Istabraq, Hurricane Fly and Buveur D’Air portrayed the perfect technique. They were able to got from one side to the other without breaking stride at times. Nine of the last 20 winners have come from the previous Champion Hurdle race. Only two five year old have won since 1985 (Katchit in 2008 ) and last year’s winner Espoir D’Allen when the race fell apart ! Six other five-year-olds have hit the frame from 29 runners in the last 13 runnings. Course form is vital since 19 of the last 20 winners have ran at the festival before. No 10 year olds have won since 1981 even though 29 have tried.
Nicky Henderson has a great record in race and will be looking for his 8th win in race with the likes of Epatante, Pentland Hills, Fusil Raffles and Call Me Lord. Epatante heads the betting and she was our Triumph hurdle horse last year. She was heavily gambled into odds on and choked on the hill which was disappointing. This year she has won her two races in the manner of an improving horse. She won the Intermediate Hurdle at Newbury very easily on her seasonal debut and then went the Xmas Hurdle at Kempton. She traveled smoothly ,jumped fluently and showed a fantastic turn of foot to put the race to bed in impressive fashion. The way she quickened was visually good and her times on the clock did reflect that. Only 3 horses( Faugheen, Buveur D’Air and Kribensis) before have won the Xmas Hurdle -Champion Hurdle double from the 27 that have tried and Epatante will try to emulate those superstars. Only 3 mares have won this race before and the last one to do so was the mighty Annie Power. She has a very good chance and will get a 7lb mares allowance as well which could be very useful. The only reservation I have about her is whether she likes the ondulations at Cheltenham as for me she appears to run better on speedier tracks. I don’t think Honeysuckle or even Benie Des Dieux will run here so we can discount them.
Pentland Hills is the other Henderson horse in race and he broke many people’s heart last year when he won the Triumph at 25-1. He followed up at Aintree in the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle but has been beaten on his 2 starts to date this season. He could only finish 5th in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham on his seasonal debut where he weakened tamely on the hill but he could be forgiven this run as he was giving weight away on unsuitable ground. He was then beaten in a photo by Ballyandy in the dying strides at Haydock. It was a much improved run this time on very heavy ground and he only emptied in the closing stages. He will come on a lot for those 2 runs and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him each way.
Cilaos Emery was supplemented for the race by Willie Mullins after the injury suffered by Klassical Dream. He was then chasing this season where he won his first 2 races that included the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase at Cork. He then fell in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown but won the Red Mills Trial Hurdle when reverting back to hurdles. He could be a major player in a wide open race. Sharjah is the other Mullins horse in the race. He won 2 Grade 1’s last year namely the Morgiana and The Ryanair Hurdle over Xmas. He was unfortunately brought down at the 3rd hurdle in the Champion Hurdle. He made his seasonal debut in the Morgiana where he only finished 4th but then went on to win another Grade 1 at Leopardstown. He was firmly put into his place by Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle. If he gets his ideal conditions next week then he could be the dark horse in race that could win at big odds.
Supasundae represents the Jessica Harrington yard and he only ran once this season where he finished 4th in the Irish Champion Hurdle that Honeysuckle won. He normally needs his first run of the season and normally comes good around this time of year. He was 2nd in the Stayers hurdle behind Paisley Park last year before he went on to win the Aintree Hurdle. If the ground is heavy he will relish conditions and he could be one for the places. Darver Star represents connections of last year’s winner Espoir D’Allen and he has never been out of the top 3 in his last 6 races. He won his first 3 races in Ireland and was sent to the Grade 1 Royal Bond where he finished well into 3rd, only to be beaten by Envoi Allen and Abracadabras. He then gave a fright to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle where he was narrowly beaten by half a length. He travels well into his races and is a fluent jumper. If you are looking at formlines then the 16-1/20-1 currently available represents decent value for each way thieves. I can see him shortening on the day or put up by the big tipsters such as Andy Holding or Hugh Taylor. Of the rest I can’t see any of them winning and they are just in race to make up numbers.
Selection – Epatante 7-2
4.10 Close Brothers Mares Hurdle
This should be renamed as the Willie Mullins benefit race such has been the dominance of the champion Irish trainer since 2008. He goes in search of his 10th victory in the race having won it nine times in the last 11 years. Apples Jade broke the sequence in 2017 for Gordon Elliot and Roksana was the fortunate winner when Benie Des Dieux crashed at the last last year. This promises to be one of the races of the festival when Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle goes head to head in a fascinating clash of the titans.
Benie Des Dieux would have been unbeaten if she didn’t fall when 10 lengths clear. She sets the benchmark in this race and had only ran once this season where she annihilated the opposition in the Galmoy Hurdle and won on the bridle. She traveled really well and jumped brilliantly throughout. I really can’t see her getting beat if she takes her chance in this race even if love Honeysuckle to bits. She is the unbeaten mare in the race having won all her seven starts. She has been seen three times this season and has added 2 Grade 1 races to her Cv namely the Hatton’s Grace and the Irish Champion Hurdle. In the latter race she showed all her guts and determination to get back up once she was headed in the closing stages. The horse that gave her a fright was Darver Star and he runs in the Champion Hurdle so you will get a little idea of the form in the earlier race. I think its the right race for her and we could see both superstars jumping the last and then Benie might pull away on that hill that she knows so well. Hopefully she will stay on her feet this time. She is more experienced and has also course form which counts a lot for the festival. Hence why I have backed her for the race and I think she will win. Last year’s winner Roxana is in the race and she has an each way chance. The same can be said about Willie Mullins other horse Stormy Ireland that is 3/3 this season. I think she will run well and could reverse form with her conqueror of last year.
Selection – Benie Des Dieux 8-11
4.50 Northern Trust Company Novices Handicap Chase
This is another tricky race at the festival and so competitive. You need to have a bit of class to win this race nowadays. Last time out winners have a fantastic record in race with 7 of the last 11 winners having done so. In recent years it paid to look at horses in the top 6 in the betting as they’ve won 12 of the last 15 renewals. You need to look at a progressive horse that is peaking at the right time. We need to focus on horses with 3 or 4 runs under their belt. Ten of the last 14 winners have been beaten on their first 2 chase starts. Course form is important too since 6 of the last 15 winners have already ran at the festival before. Also don’t discount a maiden over the larger obstacles which has placed at worst in this race in nine of the last ten years. Five of the 14 winners ran at last season’s Festival, three of which in a novice hurdle.
Also a nice trend that has served me well over the last few years is the wearing of any type of new headgear by horses in race. Irish Cavalier won this for us few years ago after being fitted with cheekpieces for first time and Ballyalton did the same 2 years ago. Another interesting stat is that 30 horses have contested this race in first time head gear with 2 winning and another 6 being placed ( 5 of those going off between 20-1 and 66-1). There can be decent each way value at decent prices on horses wearing headgear for the first time.
Look out for small stables as they have a habit of winning this. Four of the last 7 winners have come from not so fashionable stables like Alan Fleming( Tully East), Ballyalton( Ian Williams), Present View( Jamie Snowden) and Hunt Ball( Kieran Burke) . It’s a race where it’s hard for the big yards to plot up a horse up Nicky Henderson has a good record in race having won it with Rajdhani Express in 2013 and he has also saddled up five runners ups.
Selection – Galvin 15-2 & Champagne Court 25-1 (Notebook)
5.30 National Hunt Chase Cup Amateur Riders Novice Chase
The National Hunt Chase is generally known as the 4 miler and is now contested by high class novices with strong form in graded races. Lots of experience over fences has proved crucial in such a tough attritional race. It is fast becoming a race for proven graded performers. Five of the last nine winners had contested a Grade 1 Novice Chase earlier in the season and three of those were officially top rated.
Seven of the last 13 winners had experienced Cheltenham fences earlier in the season and another was placed in the Kim Muir the previous season. Horses with less than 3 chase starts have a very poor record.The last 17 winners have already ran at least three times over fences Look out for horses that have ran in handicap chases earlier in the season and don’t dismiss them. The second season chasers have a tremendous record in race having won it four times in the last ten years.
I was told years ago to simply pick a horse ridden by Derek O’Connor or Jamie Codd especially in this or the Kim Muir where the horses are professionally ridden during the season and they often get on the best ones. Derek O’Connor won this race twice on Chicago Grey and Minella Rocco and been placed on 4 occasions. Jamie Codd has won this race twice with Cause of Causes and last year’s winner Le Breuil.
Jonjo O’Neil has by far the best record in the race with 6 winners. Willie Mullins didn’t have a good record till two years ago when Rathvinden won but it’s worth paying attention to his runners as 3 of the last 5 have all finished 3-4-3 despite going off at 9-1,10-1 and 33-1. Also note Gordon Elliott who has trained three of the last 8 winners in the race in Chicago Grey, Cause of Causes and the legendary Tiger Roll in 2017. Alan King has two winners in the last 12 years while Paul Nichols had 18 losers in a row in this race and most started in top five in betting.
Carefully Selected heads the betting for Willie Mullins but he is very short in the betting and he was lucky to have won his last race when he was left clear after his rivals fell. He hit so many fences that day and is bound to do the same at Cheltenham. If you don’t jump well over there you have simply no chance of winning. He will be in many price boosts on Tuesday. Battleoverdoyen might run here but I don’t think he is a horse that love the course. He was disappointing here last year but he has a little bit of class about him that could help. At bigger odds Newtide could interest me as he is a good jumper. I will decide closer to final declarations.
Selection – Lord Du Mesnil 7-1