Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Preview, Racecards & Tips

This is our Cheltenham day one preview of all the action from the Cheltenham Festival in the UK. As the premier jumps meeting in the world, this event means so much to so many. You can see expert selections and analysis for all seven races on Champion Hurdle day in our Cheltenham Tuesday preview.

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Race 1 – 1:20 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Appreciate It is unbeaten over hurdles for Willie Mullins, including back-to-back Grade 1 victories. He heads the betting as a result, but the fact he has won an Irish point-to-point and an extended bumper raises questions about his speed.

METIER has made a good switch off the Flat for Harry Fry, meanwhile, and took the Tolworth Hurdle in real style at Sandown in January. After skipping the Betfair Hurdle to stay fresh for this, he could be the one that causes an upset and turns over the favourite.

Soaring Glory has been progressive and brings smart British form to the table for Jonjo O’Neill. He won the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last time out, and that open handicap has often been a useful stepping stone for novices targeting the Supreme. A small field of eight is only half the size of last year.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Shortlist

  • Selection: Metier
  • Dangers: Appreciate It
  • Each-Way: Soaring Glory

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Race 2 – 1:55 Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Next in our Cheltenham day one preview, a match on paper between SHISHKIN, who took the Supreme at last year’s Festival, and Allmankind for the Dan SKelton stable.

Shishkin is three from three in this sphere, winning two Grade 2s at Kempton and Doncaster easily. He also landed the Supreme here 12 months ago when encountering all sorts of trouble in-running, but still got up and landed the spoils. He is odds-on for more Festival glory this around.

Allmankind is also unbeaten over fences, but wasn’t as fluent at them as he had been when completing his hat-trick at Warwick. Making a case for anything else in the Arkle is difficult with such outstanding talents at the top of the market, but Franco De Port looks the most solid each-way alternative.

Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase Shortlist

  • Selection: Shishkin
  • Danger: Allmankind
  • Each-Way: Franco De Port

Race 3 – 2:30 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

A typically wide-open renewal of this staying handicap chase where a case can be made for many. Of those with course form, HAPPYGOLUCKY was a staying on fourth in the Martin Pipe here 12 months ago. Since then, Kim Bailey’s charge has won a novice chase on the New Course after chasing home subsequent winner Getaway Trump at Fakenham.

Northern raider Aye Right has run superbly in defeat for small-time trainer Harriet Graham. A repeat of his fourth placed efforts over fences, including the Ladbrokes Trophy and Sky Bet Chase, give him solid each-way claims. Extra places should be available with bookmakers for this one.

Alnadam is unexposed at the trip, but did win an Irish point before joining the Skelton stable. He has won two of his four starts over regulation fences, including a taking victory at Sandown. A galloping track like Cheltenham should suit him.

Ultima Handicap Chase Shortlist

  • Selection: Happygolucky
  • Danger: Aye Right
  • Each-Way: Alnadam

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Race 4 – 3:05 Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)

The feature race in our Cheltenham Tuesday preview is the Champion Hurdle, where HONEYSUCKLE and fellow mare Epatante are set for an epic battle. As the former is unbeaten, it is hard to get away from her fearsome reputation. Trainer Henry De Bromhead saddled Honeysuckle to an impressive defence of the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown and that may be the best form on offer.

Epatante was found to have a back problem following her shock defeat at a starting price of 1/5 last time out. That came courtesy of Silver Streak, but Evan Williams’ grey has never won at Cheltenham. Goshen would’ve landed the Triumph Hurdle here last year but for unseating his rider at the final flight.

Aspire Tower is the second string for De Bromhead and worth considering each-way. The foreca t going ghould suit Sharjah, who was runner-up last year, and Mullins also has dark horse James Du Berlais brought into his yard from France.

Champion Hurdle Shortlist

  • Selection: Honeysuckle
  • Danger: Epatante
  • Each-Way: Sharjah

Race 5 – 3:40 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

A race lacking depth compared to last year, CONCERTISTA has strong claims of becoming the first mare to win both hurdle races for mares at Cheltenham. Trained by the master Mullins, who has nine previous wins in the race, she has defied penalties in winning both of her starts this season.

Dame De Compagnie, who goes back over hurdles after a novice chase campaign didn’t work out, mat be the biggest danger. That is based on her strong Coral Cup victory when last in action at this track 12 months ago. Previous Mares’ Hurdle winner Roksana drops back in trip here, but her best form is over further.

The solid each-way angle is Black Tears. She has something to find with Dame De Compagnie on their Coral Cup encounter, but took the Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown when proving her well-being. Concertista s the confident choice in our Cheltenham preview day 1 for this event, however.

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Shortlist

  • Selection: Concertista (NAP)
  • Danger: Dame De Compagnie
  • Each-Way: Black Tears

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Race 6 – 4:15 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

In the penultimate race of our Cheltenham day one preview, an ultra-competitive renewal of the race registered as the Fred Winter, the suggestion is BUSSELTON. His trainer, Joseph O’Brien, won this a couple of years ago with Band Of Outlaws. Busselton brings solid form from Irish juvenile graded races to the table after placing behind leading Triumph Hurdle fancies Zanahiyr and Quilixios.

Paul Nicholls also knows what it takes to saddle a winner of this, so Houx Gris commands respect. His third on British debut when pitched right in at the deep end at Chepstow is a run he could come on for. He is also 13lb better off at the weights with Nassalam, so could reverse form granted further improvement.

Tinnahalla is lurking lower down in the weights, so could surprise a few and run into a place for Olly Murphy. This horse has progressed with each outing. A case can be made for many runners again in this, so it’s not a race at the Festival for getting heavily involved in.

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Shortlist

  • Selection: Busselton
  • Danger: Houx Gris
  • Each-Way: Tinnahalla

Race 7 – 4:50 National Hunt Chase (Grade 2)

It’s a big plus for this race that NEXT DESTINATION runs here. Already twice a winner at this level since belatedly switching to fences, Paul Nicholls has got his career back on track following injuries. Next Destination, who toughed things out at Warwick last time out may be one that got away from Mullins, who saddles Lord Royal.

Galvin has been laid out for the National Hunt Chase. He fits the profile of recent winners and goes well fresh. That, coupled with good course form, makes him one who could serve it up to the favourite over this marathon trip. Irish raiders have also done very well in this race of late.

Ascot Reynoldstown winner Remastered could go well at bigger odds. He has won all three starts this season, so has reached new heights since tackling fences. This is less ambitious than going into Grade 1 company too, so he rounds off our Cheltenham preview for day 1 of the Festival as one to consider each-way.

National Hunt Chase Shortlist

  • Selection: Next Destination
  • Danger: Galvin
  • Each-Way: Remastered

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