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Tuesday 12 March 2024

Cheltenham Festival 2024 - Day 1 (Tuesday 12th March)

Here we go! 
The most eagerly anticipated horserace meeting in the entire calendar. We will surely have competitive racing, highs and lows, and (fingers crossed) a few winners along the way. I've looked at a lot of the races already in the past week, so most of the form-study has been done. Let's get down to it and finalise the selections for the day ahead.

1:30pm - Supreme Novices Hurdle
Just 12 runners go to post, with Willie Mullins supplying half the field - and possibly his best novice hurdler runs tomorrow. Tullyhill made an immense step forward LTO, and Mullins must consider him good enough to win, but I feel Firefox who has been Gordon Elliott's chosen runner for some time to finish on top.  The trends will say a horse that won LTO is the way to go, but I'm expecting the trends to be distorted by the domination of Mullins; and that Tullyhill has had little competition in he races makes his true ability tricky to assess. Also, if Mullins thought Tullyhill was most likely to win, he wouldn't run Mystical Power.  
For me, it's Firefox to win, and I'm already on at 10/1; but the 13/2 looks attractive (Betfred pay 4-places) as an eachway wager: £5 ew @ 13/2 (4-place, 5th odds)

2:10pm - Arkle Novices' Chase
Only 10 runners go to post, with Willie Mullins supplying three (3). This all hangs on Gaelic Warrior who could possibly turn-out to be the best two-mile chaser we've seen in a few years, or (like Chancun Pour Soi) he may save his best for Ireland, and flop at Cheltenham.  
I'm on two in the race: Found A Fifty and Il Etait Temps; they fought out the Irish Arkle last month, and they look to have the best recent form going into this race. Mullins also has Hunters Yarn, but that horse wasn't good enough as a hurdler to suggest he has the speed for this race. There are another two that may be involved: Quilixios who won the Triumph Hurdle in 2021; and My Mate Mozzie who I thought would go for a handicap chase as he's clearly better than his OR150 rating.  
I'm already on both Found A Fifty and Il Etait Temps at 6/1, which I took after they ran LTO. Right now, this race looks too competitive, as I didn't expect Mullins to run Gaelic Warrior - so if you haven't already had a wager already, then I can't suggest one that looks "value" other than a £5 eachway wager on Found A Fifty at 15/2 with Paddy Power (3-places 5th odds a place)

2:50pm - Ultima Handicap Chase
With 23 runners going to post this should be a cracking race - it's one of my favourites in the winter calendar. Unusually, the Irish trainers are out in force this year, and I'm expecting one of them to win the race. The market leaders Meetingofthewaters, The Goffer, and Chianti Classico each have "issues" (see horse-by-horse assesment in yesterday's blog) and I'm expecting the experience of Stumptown, a winner over C&D,  to prove decisive. I've also suggested eachway wagers on Twig, and Monbeg Genius, as most bookies are paying 6-places eachway. 
For me, it's £5 ew Stumptown at 11/1 (William Hill) and £5 win if you are not already on.

3:30pm - Champion Hurdle
This looks a near certainty for State Man, and he is long odds-on - so long as he finished the race he will win.  If you are betting without the fav, then Iberico Lord at 3/1 is the way to go.

4:10pm - Mares' Hurdle (2m4f)
We have another odds-on Mullins-trained favourite in Lossiemouth, and she should win - however, she's never won over this sort of trip, and there's no guarantee that she will stay 2m4f especially with the notorious Cheltenham uphill finish to contend with. I've not had a wager in this race, but the 14/1 available about Love Envoi looks interesting as she is proven at the trip.

4:50pm - Juvenile H'Cap
Some races you just have to overlook, and this is one; good luck if having a wager.

5:30pm - NH Chase
It's disappoiting that there are just 7 runners in what was a great race. 
I'm expecting Gordon Elliott to cap a remarkable day with a win from Salvatore Ziggy @ 6/1 (Bet365) who he has kept under wraps all season. I was going to suggest a saver on Apple Away but the value has gone.

Good luck and back tomorrow.

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