1.30pm on Tuesday 10th March 2015 see’s the 2015 Cheltenham Festival get under way with an expected crowd in excess of 60,000 roaring their horses up the famous hill. I will be providing you with my recommendations and previews on each of the four days of Racing at the Cotswolds, beginning with this Cheltenham Festival 2015 Day One Preview, with just 4 weeks to go the road to Cheltenham is well and truly underway.
Cheltenham Festival Day One Picks
1.30 – Supreme Novices Hurdle – Alvisio Ville E/W (20/1 – Boylesports NRNB)
2.05 – Arkle Trophy – Sgt Reckless E/W (16/1 – Betfair)
3.20 – Champion Hurdle – Faugheen WIN (5/4 – Paddy Power)
4.00 – Mares’ Hurdle – Aurores D’Estruval E/W (5/1 – Winner)
4.40 – National Hunt Chase – Very Wood WIN (10/1 – 32red)
Cheltenham Festival 2015 Day One Preview
The 2015 Cheltenham Festival gets under way with the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the market is headed by the Willie Mullins trained Douvan who is best price 2/1. It has to be said that Douvan’s displays so far have been impressive but in my opinion the form isn’t that much to shout home about and it will be very interesting to see what he finds under the pump.
L’Ami Serge is the form pick for me after making very light work of the impressive Jolly’s Cracked It, who up to that point hadn’t been beaten this season. L’Ami Serge has also scalped Kilcooley and Violet Dancer who have won impressively since, he would be well worth an each way bet at 9/2 as I cannot see him being out of the first 3 home.
I am really hoping Alvisio Ville races here instead of the Neptune, as despite his defeat at the hands of Nichols Canyon he was impressive the time before, with Willie Mullins describing him as a “Superstar” earlier in the season I refuse to ignore his sentiment. The thought is that he will be a better prospect on better ground and if he gets the nod in this race he would certainly be my each way shout of the meeting.
It may be worth taking the 20/1 that Boylesports are offering with the “Non Runner No Bet” incentive as if he does take his chance I would expect that price to be significantly lower come the 10th March.
The Arkle revolves around another Willie Mullins horse Un De Sceaux who has been nothing but impressive in his races to date. For me this is now simply a “Value” race and my each way bet would have to be Sgt Reckless whose experience may prove worthwhile and it has to be noted that he finished very strongly up the Cheltenham hill last year.
The other horse who I will almost certainly be on should he take his chance (very unlikely) would be Vautour. He has been the subject to many of my ante post bets only for Un De Sceaux to pop up as Mullins’ number one pick for the Arkle. He is another who is likely to improve on better ground and is more than a lively contender should he take his chance. If he does go here rather than the JLT then I would expect a Mullins 1, 2.
The Champion Hurdle
The Champion Hurdle is headed by another Willie Mullins star in the shape of Faugheen who again has been mighty impressive in his races this season and remains unbeaten. In my opinion the only thing that will beat him is if he falls. He looks like a machine and has so far proved that. The New One may provide his biggest test so far in his career but it will take a huge effort to even give him a race.
The Mares Hurdle
The Mares’ Hurdle this year has all of a sudden become more of a betting heat than previous years’ now that Quevega has been retired.
As with most of Tuesday’s racing Willie Mullins has Annie Power at the head of the market and it appears she will be taking a similar route to the aforementioned Quevega and heading to Cheltenham without a prep run but with a best price of evens I think there is value out there away from the favourite.
Aurore’s D’Estruval was my ante post selection and I firmly took the 16/1 available at the beginning of the season and have been nothing more than impressed with her displays this term. The best of her form was last time out where there is a form line with Glen’s Melody who is also prominent in the betting.
Aurore’s beat Mischievous Milly by 5 lengths but was also giving her 8 pounds in weight, Mischievous Milly was only just beaten by Glens Melody the time before on even weights, so for me Aurore’s form is strong and with 5/1 at Winner Sports she would be my each way banker of the day.
The National Hunt Chase
The 4 mile National Hunt Chase is the next race on the agenda and surprisingly it is a Willie Mullins trained horse who heads the market this time in the shape of Don Poli.
The favourite has been very impressive this season and the scalp of Apache Stronghold last time out was given a major boost last week and it is no surprise that he is best priced 9/2.
I am hoping however and would be very surprised if Don Poli doesn’t take his chance in the RSA Chase instead of this more demanding test.
Mullins says that Don Poli could be a future Gold Cup horse and I don’t know many Gold Cup winners who have tackled a 4 mile chase before going on to Gold Cup glory, the RSA would be the more realistic aim for me, if he does go the RSA the market becomes very spread.
The Young Master would be my selection but again it looks like he will be going to the RSA, so that leaves Very Wood who was very impressive yesterday in Ireland and has Cheltenham form in the bag, although he has been backed in to 10/1 at 32Red I still think given the chances that a few top horses may be ran elsewhere the price is still pretty generous and I would not stop anyone from having a flutter ante post.
There are two other races on day one but both are handicaps and with the line ups still unknown I will not be reviewing them at this point.