It’s finally here! The Cheltenham Festival is back. After months of build-up and anticipation, Prestbury Park is finally ready for the hundreds and thousands of spectators, and the ‘greatest show on turf’.
Be it the high-class Grade Ones, or the ultra-competitive handicaps, there is plenty for punters to get stuck into.
Let’s get right into it with the best bets for day one.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
In recent years, the opening race of Cheltenham has been dominated by trainer Willie Mullins, jockey Ruby Walsh and owner Rich Ricci. The likes of Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan have all taken the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for the leading trio and in Getabird they have another strong contender for this year’s renewal.
The six-year-old couldn’t have been more impressive when winning the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown by nine lengths last time, a performance that saw him catapulted to the head of the market, where he is 6/4 with Grosvenorsport.com.
However, he’s had just two starts over hurdles and ran out on his only previous attempt going left-handed in a point-to-point, so isn’t unopposable. Henry De Bromhead’s Paloma Blue is my tip to put up the biggest challenge.
The six-year-old was last seen when finishing third to Samcro who, if is as good as they say he is, should prove to be one to watch.
He was quite keen that day but tired quickly, suggesting he should be suited by better ground. If the forecast showers stay away, he looks decent each-way value at 12/1 with Grosvenorsport.com.
This race is shaping up to be one of the highlights of the Festival and, at 5/4, we have another short-priced Mullins hotpot in the form of Footpad.
He was a solid hurdler but has been a revelation since switching to the larger obstacles and has been virtually foot perfect on his three starts this season.
It’s hard to knock what he’s done so far but his price is short enough and there are others with chances.
He beat Petit Mouchoir last time at Leopardstown but I’m taking De Bromhead’s runner to turn the tables at Cheltenham.
My reasoning is fairly straightforward: he was a better hurdler than Footpad and did well to get so close to him last time considering his early jumping errors. He had been off for 108 days prior to that, so should improve plenty.
Petit Mouchoir is the one for me at 9/4.
No prizes for originality here, but this race looks a penalty kick for Buveur D’Air who is 8/15 to retain his Champion Hurdle crown.
In all honesty, his opposition is pretty weak for this year’s renewal and on this season’s form, it would be a huge upset if we were to be beaten.
My Tent Or Yours is an admirable campaigner and can chase his stablemate home at 10/1 – which should give some great each-way value.