Before we get stuck into the runners & riders for Day 1 of the Festival a quick reminder that the most important Festival trends to take account of are:-
It all hinges on the performance of the race fav Douvan who is expected to win convincingly. I'm going to oppose him with QEWY, who won in impressive fashion LTO and should handle the ground. The odds of 14/1 look fairly generous for a horse who looks capable or running 10lb+ better than he did LTO. No advised wager from me on this race.
2:05pm Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase, (2-miles)
2:40pm Festival Handicap Chase (3-miles & 110 yards)
INDIAN CASTLE, £5 eachway @ 22/1 (Betfred and Bet Victor who both go 5-places eachway)
3:20pm Champion Hurdle (2-miles & 110 yards)
No advised wager.
4:00pm David Nicholson Mares Hurdle (2-miles & 4-furlongs)
4:40pm National Hunt Challenge Cup for Amateur Riders (4-miles)
The top-rated are: Cause Of Causes (OR146), Return Spring (OR140), Sego Success (OR143), Thunder And Roses (OR148), Very Wood (OR147). Perfect Gentleman at 10yo is too okl to win this. The obvious candidates are LTO winners Sego Success and Very Wood who have terrific riders in Same Waley-Cohen and Nina Carberry respectively. However, I think CAUSE OF CAUSES has been aimed at this race all season and he has the excellent JJ Codd in the saddle. Unfortunately 8/1 is the best odds you will find.
5:15pm Centenary Novices Handicap Chase (2-miles & 4½-furlongs)
Two that fit the bill are Generous Ransom and Horizontal Speed.
Generous Ransom won a very exciting race at the trials meeting in January LTO and could be well handicapped on OR136. He won't be far away and neither will be Horizontal Speed who come here prepared by Phil Hobbs who knows what is required to win this race. Odds of 16/1 with Bet Victor who also goes 5-place eachway looks generous.
HORIZONTAL SPEED. £5 eachway @ 16/1 (Bet Victor who goes 5-places eachway)
Good luck all.