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  1. #1

    MOM's racing preview - Cheltenham Festival 2019 - Day 1

    And so it begins. The greatest week of horse racing on the planet. The spectacle of spectacles. The best of the best taking each other on over 28 races and four mouth-watering days of action. The wait is over – it’s the Cheltenham Festival 2019.

    1:30 - Supreme Novices Hurdle
    The famous Cheltenham roar gets us underway with the two mile Supreme Novices Hurdle the curtain raiser. Al Dancer has been the favourite for this since galloping the field into submission in the Betfair Hurdle. He’s a solid if unspectacular market leader who will run his race but I would be disappointed if there’s not one in this with a touch more class to improve past him. Elixir De Nutz has been very progressive this year and has the best form in the book with Grand Sancy beaten by a length in the Tolworth last time before that horse won a Grade 2 next time out. ANGELS BREATH was backed off the boards to win an Ascot Grade 2 on his debut but that was a muddling race with just four hurdles jumped. He then got beat next time out at Kempton in the Dovecote but that came quickly after his flu jab and his brilliant trainer Nicky Henderson believes there’s significant improvement to come from him after that. The stiff Cheltenham hill and soft ground will help him and he has no stamina doubts after winning a point to point over three miles before being bought for a whopping 280,000 by Dai Walters (also the owner of Al Dancer). It could pay to side with him here in the opener at a very fair price of 5/1. I’ve taken a two pronged approach to the first race with one from the Irish side for the brilliant Willie Mullins who’s won this race five times and runs Aramon and KLASSICAL DREAM. The latter showed battling qualities at the Dublin Festival to beat his stablemate and the softening ground will suit. The smart French recruit has Ruby Walsh aboard and looks primed to run a big race. Fakir D’Oudaries comes here to avoid Sir Erec in the Triumph but, even with the weight allowance, this is a massive ask for him to win this as a four year old. Vision D’Honneur is a fair each way price and could run on for a place.
    1 – Angels Breath 5/1
    2 – Klassical Dream 5/1
    3 – Elixir De Nutz 9/1

    Note – Betway are paying customers back on the first and last race each day if they lose as a free bet up to 10. Skybet are going even better and paying 20 back on the first race every day as cash if you lose – making it a completely risk free bet.



    2:10 – Arkle Trophy
    I can’t help but feel a bit hard done by in this race after sitting on 5/1 Le Richebourg and Cilaos Emery at 14/1 who both got injured and were withdrawn at 6/4 and 7/2. I think if either of those were still fit, they’d be a short priced favourite and win. Lalor looked like a superstar when beating a good field at Cheltenham before Christmas but ran no race last time out on heavy ground. He’s a winner on soft over hurdles but that run last time places plenty of doubts around him. Hardline won a Grade 1 at Limerick on Boxing Day before disappointing next time but the drop back in trip will suit and softer ground will suit. There is plenty of speed in the race so it’s feasible to see Davy Russell sitting well off the pace and picking up the pieces late on with a strong pace to aim at. Anyone looking for a solid each way bet to nothing in this race, Hardline is absolutely the play for that reason. For win purposes, GLEN FORSA is the way to go. He’s been backed for this ever since trouncing Kalashnikov (reopposes here) by 19 lengths last time. The admirable seven year jumps and gallops for fun and will set them a ruthless gallop to aim at and will take some beating here. He started his season off with a win over three miles at Chepstow which emphasises just how versatile he is. In a weak looking renewal, he’s absolutely earnt himself a crack at this as one of the most improving horses of the season. Paloma Blue has bundles of talent but is a poor jumper and that will be tested more than ever here. He was behind the aforementioned Kalashnikov in last year’s Supreme also and I couldn’t fancy him. I actually backed Kalashnikov to win any race at this year’s festival from September but he’s hard to trust over this trip when surely he ought to be in the JLT. Knocknauss will go off at a frenetic pace early on as he always does which will make this a stamina sapping test which could help Duc Des Genievres for Ruby Walsh. It may lack the star name of previous Arkles but it’s a very intriguing betting heat with differing views across the racing world.
    1 – Glen Forsa 4/1
    2 – Hardline 5/1
    3 – Duc Des Genievres

    2:50 – Ultima Handicap Chase
    The first handicap of the festival now and Give Me A Copper has been talked up throughout the entire preview circuit recently for this race. Words such as ‘machine’, ‘monster’ and ‘Grade 1 horse’ have been used by connections which makes you have to sit up and take notice. The vibes for him are very strong and he will improve for his comeback run last time when fourth of 16 after travelling superbly well but fading late. He could be too good for handicaps but, at 11/2, I’m willing to let him win without backing him. I’ve played three here each way for this ultra-tough race with UP FOR REVIEW the first of them. My only worry for him is that both of his Cheltenham runs were somewhat disappointing. However, at 12/1 on Sunday evening, he was worth the punt. He’s improving, consistent and has been well backed recently for the race. MISTER WHITAKER knows how to win at the Festival after winning the novice handicap chase last year when staying on strongly to the line which bears him in good stead for this stepped up in trip. His Cheltenham form suggests this is where he runs his best races and his prep at Ascot for this was solid if not spectacular. Coo Star Sivola won this last year and this has been the long-term target this season but his form has been awful since. His Festival record is magnificent though and a repeat of last year’s effort would make him the one to beat. Minella Rocco was a previous Gold Cup runner-up but prefers better ground and has been in awful form over the last year. Beware The Bear placed for me last year when rattling home for fourth despite being woefully outpaced coming down the hill. He made the running when winning here on New Years Day and a repeat of that tactic could prove useful and he retains the blinkers worn for the first time then. Singlefarmpayment is a rogue at the finish but is consistent enough to place in this again but surely won’t win. The final horse I’ve played for this is GENERAL PRINCIPLE who heads here before a tilt at the Aintree Grand National. He won the Irish equivelant last April and ran a fine race last time. He gets into this off 11s 1lb and if fully wound up for this would go very close on his best form. 20/1 is far too big a price for the Gigginstown inmate.
    1 – Up For Review – 7/1
    2 – Mister Whitaker – 8/1
    3 – General Principle – 20/1

    3:30 – Champion Hurdle
    What a brilliant race this promises to be. Is this the best hurdle race since Istabraq’s last Champion Hurdle win? There may be 10 runners but the race revolves around three of them – all of which would go to superstar status with a win. Buveur D’Air bids for the hat-trick and if he was to win, giving weight to the two Mares, would surely get the plaudits he deserves as a dual Champion Hurdler. Laurina oozed class when romping to victory in the Mares Novice race last year at the Festival but this is a whole new class of opponent. The soft ground undoubtedly suits her though. APPLES JADE is arguably one of the greatest Mares we have seen and can cement her legacy here with a Championship win she deserves. The 2017 Mares Hurdle winner was shocked last year when beaten into third in that race but was found to be in season. She has been imperious this season and the decision to send her here was undoubtedly the correct one – whether she wins or loses. Melon has looked poor this season but gave Buveur D’Air a fright when runner-up. Sharjah is a very interesting one who would be a fair each way bet if the ground has stayed dry for him but the rain is a massive hindrance to him – likewise for Verdana Blue who stunned Buveur D’Air at Kempton on Boxing Day. Espoir D’Allen is the best bet outside of the big three if a market for that is formed but there is no each way value with the three big guns all running and only ten runners.
    1 – Apples Jade 2/1
    2 – Buveur D’Air 11/4
    3 – Laurina 4/1



    4:10 – Mares Hurdle
    BENIE DES DIEUX (NAP) won this last year and she should do the same again. She’s superior on the ratings to these and the unbeaten mare has been aimed at this since winning at the Punchestown Festival last April. Both Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins have identified her as their best chance of the week and the short priced favourite should hose up. I took some slightly bigger prices for this back in September for this for her and am confident she should continue her trainer’s remarkable record in this race. Roksana has steadily improved but would need a huge career best whilst Limini is capable but hasn’t shown her best form in recent months. Lady Buttons is the each way angle here and potentially in a market without Benie Des Dieux. She’s a strong traveller through her races and has a very good strike rate but this is her toughest task to date.
    1 – Benie Des Dieux 5/6
    2 – Lady Buttons 14/1
    3 – Limini 9/1

    4:50 – Close Brother’s Novices Chase
    One of the hardest races of the week up now with 20 engaged for the novices handicap chase. This handicap is tightly bunched on ratings as usual and it tends to pay to simply look for the best horse for the future. A Plus Tard showed smart form in France before running well on his debut for Gordon Elliott when second before building on that to win at Naas. He found just Winter Escape too good next time in a graded handicap and ought to go well here. He’s a consistent type which can’t be said for Lough Derg Spirit or Movewiththetimes but both are capable of landing this if putting their best foot forward. TOWER BRIDGE makes his handicap debut here but has some classy form to his name and should run a big race. My second dart for this is CUBOMANIA who has Davy Russell aboard. The six year old won over course and distance previously and has been very competitive this season and the soft ground will suit.
    1 – Cubomania 12/1
    2 – Tower Bridge 8/1
    3 – A Plus Tard 6/1

    5:30 – National Hunt Chase
    The four mile novice race is growing in stature every year and this renewal continues that trend. Discorama fell last time when coming alongside Ballyward at the last fence and they renew their rivalry again. Patrick Mullins rides the latter for his father Willie and the seven year old has always looked like a dour stayer with a touch of class. He will go very close here and I have had a saver on him to cover my stake on OK CORRAL. Nicky Henderson’s charge is fragile but classy as shown when hacking up at Warwick last time with most people agreeing that, under different ownership, the horse would be challenging Delta Work in the RSA on Wednesday rather than here. However, this race has always been the plan for connections with Derek O’Connor flying over from Ireland for the ride last time at Warwick to get a feel of the horse before this amateur riders contest. He will undoubtedly stay as shown when finishing strongly over three miles in the Albert Bartlett last year on heavy ground in the race regarded as one of the toughest for horses and ran like a marathon. That experience will stand him in excellent stead for this with his class helping him through and hopefully ending the day on a winning note for punters across the land.
    1 – OK Corral 10/3
    2 – Ballyward 2/1
    3 - Discorama 6/1


    Day 1 bets:
    1:30 – Klassical Dream 5/1 & Angels Breath 9/2
    2:10 – Glen Forsa 9/2 & 4/1 & Kalashnikov 8/1 (antepost any race)
    2:50 – Up For Review E/W 12/1, Mister Whitaker E/W 9/1 & General Principle E/W 20/1
    3:30 – Apples Jade 7/1 (antepost) & 2/1
    4:10 – BENIE DES DIEUX (NAP) 3/1 – 11/10 (antepost)
    4:50 – Cubomania E/W 12/1 & Tower Bridge E/W 9/1
    5:30 – OK Corral 4/1 (antepost) & 11/4 & a saver bet on Ballyward 11/4
    Last edited by Middle_Of_March; 03-11-2019 at 11:57 PM.

  2. #2
    Top Amateur
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    Fantastic effort MOM, thank you

  3. #3
    That’s a lot of my book MoM. Gl.

    Difference of opinion on Arkle - I am in Lalor camp.

  4. #4
    5lb Claimer
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    Good stuff MOM, you might have missed out on a winner or two but I’ll be more than happy if the day pans out as your preview. Good luck for the 4 days

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