Cheltenham Festival | Ante-post day one and two | Preview and Odds

The wait to hear that famous Cheltenham roar will finally be over at 1.30pm on Tuesday, when National Hunt racing’s finest novice hurdlers line up for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – the first of 28 races at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Read the thoughts of our horse racing expert and all the best ante-post bets.

Day 1 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Gone are the days of Vautour, Douvan and Altior getting the day off to an easy start for favourite-backers, with the last two winners having returned at 25/1 and 9/1 and this year’s renewal also looks wide open too.

Nigel Twiston Davies’ Al Dancer confirmed his promise with a smooth success at Ascot last timeout and looks like going off favourite.

Fakir D’Oudairies from the trendy Joseph O’Brien yard was well-backed for this after a taking success at the track on Trials Day and has been laid out for this since, while Angels Breath looks like the leading fancy from the all-powerful Nicky Henderson stable.

Outside of the market principles, Klassical Dream could spring a slight surprise at 10/1.

He’s showed great guts and attitude to win on both his starts since moving over from France and could be just the type to grind it out in a race that is almost always run at a furious gallop.

Day 1 – Champion Hurdle

The big race of the opening day is the Champion Hurdle and this year’s renewal looks a real cracker.

Buveur D’Air is going for the hat-trick but will have to fend of a pair of highly talented mares in the shape of Apple’s Jade and Laurina.

None of the three have ever met on a racecourse and it’s a race given form students a bit of a headache.

The two-time champion will be very tough to dethrone but has shown some chinks in his armour this year.

He was beaten by stablemate Verdana Blue at Kempton and he can’t afford to run even a percent below par in this contest.

On the other hand, Apple’s Jade crushed her rivals by 16 lengths in the Irish Champion Hurdle and has never looked better.

Laurina is unbeaten under the guidance of Willie Mullins but has never taken on the boys, so Apple’s Jade is the call at 7/4.

Day 1 – Ultima Handicap Chase

Elsewhere on the opening day, it’s worth fishing around the handicaps for some bigger prices.

The Ultima Handicap Chase could be right up Minella Rocco’s street.

The nine-year-old looked in good nick over hurdles at Exeter last time out, ultimately being caught out by the short trip, and has strong each-way claims at 10/1.

Day 2 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

Wednesday is all about the Champion Chase but, sadly, the race is one to simply watch and admire with last year’s winner Altior expected to deliver again at just 2/5.

In the opening Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Champ looks a worthy favourite and could be the banker on day two.

He’s big, strong and has plenty of stamina for a novice, so should handle his start at Cheltenham without too much trouble.

Both successes at Newbury will have put him spot on for this, while the form of those races looks strong.

Day 2 – Champion Bumper

The Champion Bumper is always an exciting race, with a 20-plus bumper horses tearing around Cheltenham over two miles.

Gordon Elliott’s Envoi Allen looks the one to beat but is unlikely to represent great value in a race that typically produces hard luck stories.

At a bigger price, Harry Fry’s Get In The Queue at 7/1 was seen cutting through the field to win well under a penalty at Exeter last time out.

The experience of coming through horses to win that and the ride Noel Fehily gave him that day will prove very valuable and he could be in the shake-up.

We are Non Runner No Bet on all 28 Cheltenham Festival races. Head here for all the latest markets.




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