Monday, 12 March 2018

Cheltenham Day 1

Well Cheltenham has finally arrived for another year and how tickled I am!

This time around we have the word heavy appearing in the going description for the first time in many a year. This word has struck fear into the stats men up and down the country who have no recent festival stats to compare with and their predictions may be sunk before we even start!

One things for sure we are about to witness some strange results and probably some big prices too. Horses that have only shown glimmers of form in the past are right back in the mix for this unique test.

Lets get started then:

1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle - 2m 87y
The best way forward in this has usually been to shortlist the last time out winners and in this case that would be First Flow, Getabird, Kalashnikov and Summerville Boy. The weakest of those for me would be Summerville Boy who has finished 2nd and 3rd at the track this season and then beat Kalashnikov in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown when there were just the 5 runners.
Getabird is unbeaten when completing and will have no trouble staying in this going but having watched his races I can't say I was bowled over by the way he won - but I may be wrong and he may be a world beater.
I've followed Kalashnikov all season and he was particularly impressive in the Betfair Hurdle last time out after looking beat going down the back straight - but his jockey kept at him and didn't give up and he was rewarded when Kalashnikov was not stopping come the finish.
First Flow the outsider of the 4 but he gets his ground here with his last two wins coming on heavy going and he's well worth an ew having won the Supreme Trial at Haydock by 10 lengths and you could win more money for him being placed than Getabird winning.

2.10 Racing Post Arkle Novices Chase
A small field and it looks as though Footpad will justify favouritism although I can't say I've got a definite opinion on this race and I would have preferred more runners.

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

Just the 18 runners in this with the maximum being 24. This will be a gruelling test over 3m 1f and the one I'm drawn to is Cogry down the bottom of the weights. He's pretty consistent when he finishes a race and he's won his last two races here. Jamie Bargary takes off a valuable 3lb to 10-6 and he won't have any trouble if it gets into a war of attrition. I'm not saying he's going to win but at 18/1ish he's worth an ew. I think the two David Pipe runners are also worth a check in the market.

3.30 Unibet Champion Hurdle
I'm not convinced anything can beat the fav here and therefore it's ew bets again. It's not a race that is grabbing my attention that much though and there are plenty of "has beens" in the line up so I'm giving it a miss.

4.10 OLBG Mares Hurdle
A smallish field with just the 9 runners and it's another one for the favs it would seem with Apple's Jade looking likely to prevail. Jer's Girl hasn't been that far behind on a few occasions so could be one for the ew money.

4.50 National Hunt Challenge Cup
Probably one of the highlights of day one for me. I've been banging on about No Comment for a good while(16/1) so I will stick with him as my main selection. He's only run the once this season in the Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown but that was too short and he's best judged on his 2nd's at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals last season over 3m - but he's a tad short in the betting now if you haven't already backed him. More often than not this race is down to jockeyship as much as anything and he has a top one in Derek O'Connor. No Comment was J P McManus only entry in this race and he's had 6 winners of it in the past whilst Jonjo O'Neill, whose also had 6 winners of this, and who is closely linked to JP didn't even bother entering one which leads me to believe No Comment should go well.

5.30 Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase
The only race of the day to have maximum runners which when you look back at the initial declarations it's hard to believe. It also looks to be one of the most competitive with several in very good form. De Plotting Shed has been put up as a horse laid out for this race and he doesn't look as though he will have any problem with the conditions. I have it on good authority that Divine Spear is the best of the Nicky Henderson duo and his race last time out wasn't run to suit so can be written off. He jumps well out of soft ground and looks to be still improving but it's whether he is good enough to beat the likes of De Plotting Shed, Barney Dwan and Testify amongst Others.

Lets hope the day is not too discomknockerating!!

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