1:30PM Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle
The Nicky Henderson trained horse owned by JP McManus, who is the most expensive point-to-point purchase in history, has split a lot of opinions over the last few weeks. Early on in the season he was the one to beat in the opening race of the festival for many, winning on Hurdle debut in brilliantly easy fashion, then going on to win the Grade 2 Kennel Gate Hurdle at Ascot back in November last year, winning with ease by just under 3 lengths. His performance in the Supreme Trial last time out was slightly more workman-like, but that was in very testing conditions, which it looks like we are not getting for Festival week (Currently good to soft). He is a nice big horse who is a full brother to the very smart Douvan, with Jonbon looking like he will keep improving with each run. He certainly has the traits of his brother with his slick jumping of a hurdle and being a pretty smooth traveller throughout his race. The other runners tried to exploit potential weaknesses in his first two hurdle starts by going very slow early on, but that was to no avail as he still won both races with ease. He is a nice big horse who looks a natural over obstacles, with Cheltenham itself looking like it will suit this horse just like his brother and his trainer really thinks the world of him.
Trainer Gordon Elliott stated the other day that he feels Mighty Potter is a forgotten horse going into the festival, and the yard feels he has a decent chance on the opening day of the festival. He is currently 3 for 4 in his career, including an impressive 1 and a half length win at Leopardstown last time out in the Grade 1 Champion Novices Hurdle. He pretty much did everything wrong that day, not jumping well all the way around and was short of room in certain places travelling on and off the bridle, with one mistake at the second last where he didn’t jump it well at all at the crunch end of the race. Normally that would hinder a horse’s chance of winning the race, but not this lad as he regathered up the straight and powered on when asked by Jack Kennedy, winning quite impressively in the end. A step up in trip will suit further in his career, and he may lack the speed of the other runners, but he will always be staying on, so the Cheltenham Hill won’t prove any issues for him.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 1 👇🏼
2:10PM Sporting Life Arkle Novices Chase
The Alan King trained Edwardstone will have to fend off a top-quality Irish charge to land his second Grade 1 of the season, but he has come on leaps and bounds since going chasing (running over fences) this season and he is in fantastic form at present. He has won his last four races and was unlucky not to win in his first start of the season (he was brought down by another falling horse) which meant it could have been five out of five this season for him. But it was his last run that really stamped his authority on the Novice Chasing scene for this season, lining up in the Kingmaker Chase at Warwick last month, coming up against season rivals Third Time Lucki and For Pleasure, a race which he ran them ragged. He travelled beautifully and jumped very well, before mounting his challenge down the home straight to win by just over 4 lengths with Third Time Lucki back in a distant second. The form in behind him on his runs isn’t particularly great, but he is already a Grade 1 winner this season and has taken a step forward with each run, with regular jockey Tom Cannon stating he is the best horse he has ridden after winning at Warwick last time out. Edwardstone’s trainer Alan King has trained this horse to perfection and seems very confident of his chances come festival week.
The first three in the market look by far the best three types on paper and will be very hard to beat, but one of the mares lining up in this race really takes my interest. Henry De Bromhead had a fantastic Cheltenham Festival last season, winning multiple championship races having one of the best festivals a trainer has had in years, so any of his runners must be taken seriously. Magic Daze is already a chase winner this season, winning at a hack canter by 25 lengths at Cork last November, before slightly disappointing last time out when tackling Grade 2 company over fences for the first time in her career. She didn’t jump particularly well and things in the race didn’t fall her way, but she will be fresh after the break after a busy time of things at the back end of last year, and has that very useful 7lb mares’ allowance, which allows her to have a slight weight advantage on the other runners that are geldings. If she brushes up on her jumping, she can go well in this at double figure price, at a track where she finished second at last year at big odds of 22/1, to only be beaten by a Graded winner in the making.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 2 👇🏼
2:50PM Ultima Handicap Chase
The Gordon Elliott charge has been in fine fettle already this season, winning a Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse in January after a string of decent placed efforts before that, before tackling the step up in trip to 3 miles and 4 furlongs in a Grand National Trial at Punchestown last Month. This was presumably done to test the waters for a possible Grand National tilt in April, and although he was beaten that day, he still ran a cracker of a race, only to be beaten by 7 lengths with some thorough stayers finishing in behind him also. He didn’t particularly jump with much fluency all the way around that day, with the jump at the last putting away chances of finishing second, but it did look like the trip will suit making the Cheltenham hill not an issue for him as he was staying on even with a bad jump at the last. If he brushes up on his jumping in this, with a decent weight to run around with he will go well in this looking to gain his trainer a first win in the race.
David Pipe has his horses in pretty good form this season, and he looks to go to battle in this very competitive race with Gericault Roque, who has put in some decent performances without winning recently, finishing second on his last three starts and a third place before that on his chasing debut. He was very lightly raced over hurdles previously, presumably because connections have always had the idea of him being a good stayer in his career, and that seems to have worked out for them. He was a decent second last time out in the Grade 3 Classic Chase at Warwick, beaten by a thorough stayer where the race fell into his lap after an inspired ride by the jockey. However, that was still a decent performance as his jumping was good and he was staying on all the way up the home straight at a track that can really catch a horse out. The Cheltenham Hill will suit this horse in this thorough staying contest that is as competitive as always. He carries a fairly low weight in this and will run his usual decent race.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 3 👇🏼
3:30PM Champion Hurdle
When we talk about current Champion Hurdlers, Honeysuckle is at the forefront of our minds. She’s unbeaten in all of her career starts to date (14 wins in 14 runs, including 10 wins at the highest level of Grade) including a 6 and a half length winner of the Champion Hurdle last season behind closed doors at the Cheltenham Festival, with a Mares Hurdle win the year before as well. She’s had her usual preparation this season again with a run in the Hatton’s Grace and Irish Champion Hurdle, which she won those two races by just under 15 lengths with plenty of top-class horses well beaten in behind her. The Henry De Bromhead horse is such a slick jumper and a very strong traveller, she has also won at a slightly further distance in the past, making it very hard to get her beat in the race, no matter how the race is run, she has the stamina in her locker to stay on should they go quick, and plenty of boot to speed away when it really matters should it become a sprint in the final parts of the race. She has won at two previous Cheltenham Festivals and the track suits her down to the ground, more so than most of the other horses in the 2-mile division currently. She is certainly the class act horse of the meeting with plenty of racing fans solely going to watch her on the first day. She will be incredibly hard to beat in this, with the usual 7lb mares allowance meaning she will be 7lb’s better off in the weights than most of the other runners, giving her a big advantage on the others, but her talent does that anyway.
The trainer of Teahupoo Gordon Elliott has never won the Champion Hurdle before, which comes as a surprise to many racing fans as he is a very good trainer, but he does have a runner in this year’s renewal that could go well. Teahupoo has only had the six career runs, but he has won five of those runs, and is a multiple Grade 2 winner, but yet to win at the highest level of Grade (which is a Grade 1 race). He is certainly a work in progress but is really progressing well as he seems to take a huge step forward with each run. His win last time out at Gowran was exceptional, he jumped superbly and powered away down the straight to win by 11 lengths, with a previous Graded winner well beaten in behind. He lacks the experience of some of the runners in this year’s Champion Hurdle, but he looks an exciting prospect and with usual progression he could improve over most of these, with Cheltenham looking like it will suit him nicely. Teahupoo is currently a very decent price and I can see him finishing well in the places.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 4 👇🏼
4:10PM Mares Hurdle
Leading Cheltenham Festival winner Willie Mullins has won this race a record nine times, and it has only been running 14 times in its short history, which is well over a 60%-win strike rate in the race for a super trainer of mares. Stormy Ireland has been in top form this season and was in even better form at the back end of last season when going back to be trained by Willie Mullins. She struggled over in the UK when trained by Paul Nicholls early on in the season, but the master of mares worked his magic again and got her to win a Grade 1 in fantastic fashion last May. The run that really puts her on the radar for this race however was when she lined up last time out, winning the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham in fantastic fashion on the first day of the year. She won by just over 2 lengths and was staying on all the way up the Cheltenham Hill to the finish, which is crucial for a horse to do as the stiff hill finish at the track can catch some horses out in the later stages of the races, winning form at Cheltenham is key for these horses in the big championship races. She will arrive at the race in fine form and her trainer has reported she is doing very well at home; they are expecting a very good run from her at the festival to continue her brilliant form.
Trainer Lucy Wadham is having a brilliant season, and her star horse looks set to take a chance stepping up in class when lining up for this fairly open Mares Hurdle on opening day. She is a proper game mare who is currently bidding for the hat-trick of wins, with a career best run coming in her last race when landing a listed contest at Sandown at the start of the year. Martello Sky has some decent form at Cheltenham, with form figures of 5811, showing the older she gets the better she is becoming. She will run through a brick wall for connections and thoroughly deserves a chance at this sort of level, with usual rider Bryony Frost relishing the chance to hopefully ride this horse on the opening day of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 5 👇🏼
4:50PM Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Trainer Joseph O’Brien doesn’t usually have many runners at the Cheltenham Festival, but he looks to have a nice runner in this who does look to have a nice low mark in this contest, a race where the Irish have dominated over the last few years. Champion Green was a bumper winner back in 2021 for Joseph O’Brien and won his first hurdle race in a maiden contest back in January of this year, after three runs previous to that race with the form figures of 4-2-PU. He won his hurdle race with absolute ease making all and jumping nicely all the way around, to win going away by just over 3 lengths. The winning margin could have been a lot more but understandably they would have wanted to keep his mark down for this race. He is carrying a decent weight in this contest and could be hard to beat should he take to Cheltenham.
The Ross O’Sullivan trained filly is trained in Ireland but has run in the UK on her last two outings and has been running to a very decent level over the season, coming runner up on three occasions and winning once, in just the four runs over Hurdles. She ran a fair few times in bumpers over 2020 and 2021, winning one race in eight starts. She put on arguably her best career run to date when lining up in the Listed Fillies Juvenile Race at Aintree last December, beating some other nice types by just over 2 lengths. She then lined up in another Listed contest at Doncaster just over a month ago, finishing second after not getting the rub of the green in the race, just getting beat on the line after staying on superbly late in the race. She doesn’t look to have much speed but will stay on very well, so Cheltenham is a track that looks to suit her well. Like the main selection she looks to be carrying a decent weight considering she is already a Listed winner this season.
Jake has picked out the following bets for Race 6 👇🏼
5:30PM Ukraine Appeal National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys Novices Chase
Trainer Gavin Cromwell’s grey already has some Cheltenham festival form to boot when he landed last years Albert Bartlett in fantastic style by 11 lengths, flying away up the Cheltenham hill. He was a big price that day, so there were question marks on the form and whether he can back it up, but since then he has been running very well in some decent staying races, especially this season since he has switched to fences. He is already a winner over the larger obstacles this season, landing a Grade 2 at Punchestown by 26 lengths, with some horses in behind winning or running very well since they met. He was slightly disappointing last time out after running well to finish 3rd in a Grade 1 the time before, but he had excuses that day and the busy period just before Christmas might have caught up with him, with just over a month off now he will be freshened up nicely to win this. He was well beaten by Stattler last time out, which makes you question why I have picked Vanillier, the sole reason I have is because of his Cheltenham form. Vanillier has won in a staying race at Cheltenham, albeit over hurdles, but he has allvaluable Cheltenham form, and is a thorough stayer so he will be there abouts come the finish. Experienced rider Derek O’Connor takes the ride, which is fantastic news for us as he has three Cheltenham festival winners to his name including in this race previously.
Gordon Elliott’s Braeside has been in fine form this season whilst only winning once, that was the cork grand national over 3 miles and 4 furlongs in October, where he won by 3 lengths after staying on the best when asked of by Jack Kennedy. He is prone to throw in a poor run however, but that looked to have been two runs ago when he pulled up after a few mistakes on the way round. He will run through a brick wall for connections and will be staying on late should he jump around with no mishaps. Jockey Rob James is bookedwho is a brilliant point-to-point jockey over in Ireland, fresh off his first Cheltenham Festival win last year on Milan Native, another good jockey booking for this race.
Jake has picked out the following bets for final Race 👇🏼
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