I’ve only been to the Cheltenham Festival once in 2014 but it was a memorable three days. I’m not sure If I will ever go again so I’m glad I got experienced it. From the famous Cheltenham ‘Roar’ to seeing all horses trying the sport doesn’t get any better than the next four days.
Inside today’s main piece I preview the Champion Hurdle and the National Hunt Chase. And there’s also few race stats for you and some possible suggestions for the Scoop 6 or Placepot.
Bangers Puts Us In the Cash
Yesterday selection Bangers And Cash gave his absolute all and stuck his neck out at the line to win the Taunton feature. The winner is an old fashioned stayer chaser who was legless coming to the last but he’s all heart. The rain had softened the ground at Taunton, and it made for a serious stamina test. He will have had a hard race here and hopefully he will be given a nice break to recover from these exertions.
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Two winners on the day, if you also backed Bubble Dubi, was the perfect way to go into the Cheltenham Festival. The next four days are going to be very different, but I would rather be in form rather than out of it that’s for sure.
Cheltenham Festival – Day 1
It looks like the meeting is going to start on soft ground. On Monday morning the going stick was 6.3 but and there is a but the going stick 12 months ago was 6.4 which was good to soft, and four winners ran faster than standard. If the going stick is right, then it’s not going to be really soft ground. However, what if the going stick is wrong? We’ll only find that out when we have analysed the day one times.
I’m not going to labour the point once more but the water table on the Old Course is going to be higher because of the watering that took place on the course in the Autumn. I think Cheltenham Clerk of the Course John Pullin said they but on something like 500mm of water before the October Meeting at the track.
You need to get the festival off to a good start punting wise. You can’t afford get behind as you will be playing catch up for the rest of the week. On the flip side if you can get yourself in front on day one, you’re going to give yourself a chance of a profitable week.
3:30 – Unibet Champion Hurdle – 2m ½ f
Two horses this week could be superstars in the making. One is Galopin Des Champs in Friday’s Gold Cup and the other of course is Constitution Hill. Provided he doesn’t make a serious mistake he wins this. However, as we know one serious mistake and his race might be over. That said I think he could win this by ten lengths or more.
In any other year State Man would be an odds-on favourite for this. Since he fell on his hurdle debut last season the 6-year-old has won his last six starts improving with each run. He’s a serious opponent for Constitution Hill but I think the hot favourite is something very special.
I Like To Move It put in a markedly improved performance when winning the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last time. I had him down as capable of getting into the places on good ground and maybe even been worth a go in the without the favourite market. The recent rain has tempered my enthusiasm for his claims though.
Verdict: I like State Man who would win this in a normal year. However, this isn’t a normal year. If Constitution Hill is well, he wins, it’s as simple as that. It just depends how much he wins by. If something is amiss with the favourite, I still won’t be kicking myself that I didn’t back State Man.
5:30 – WellChild National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Novices' Chase – 3m 6f
Willie Mullins is likely to be out of luck with State Man in the Champion Hurdle. However, he should take the final race of day 1 with favourite Gaillard Du Mesnil. A smart novice last year albeit a maiden over the larger obstacles. The 7-year-old finished third in last year's Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase here and occupied the same position in the Irish Grand National. He’s got the best form of the ten runners by a fair way.
Of his rivals, Chemical Energy would have been interesting on a sounder surface. Stablemate Minella Crooner looks like he needs a real stamina test and could prove a bigger threat to the Mullins favourite. Mahler Mission is a useful novice who could be capable of more improvement for today's step up in trip. . Mister Coffey is best of the home team. Runner-up in the Kim Muir here 12 months ago. Has found winning over fences hard though – 0 wins from 7 runs, 6 placed. I don’t expect him to beat Gaillard Du Mesnil, but he’s got solid place claims once more.
Verdict: Gaillard Du Mesnil will take some stopping. However, connections of his rivals will comfort themselves with the fact that the last seven favourites have been beaten. Mister Coffey looks a decent each way plays if you can get 10/1 or bigger.
Cheltenham Stats – Day 1
Here are some stats for this afternoon’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Odds SP: 14/1 & bigger – 1 winner from 144 runners -118 9 placed.
Willie Mullins – 5 winners from 37 runners -14.77 9 placed.
The Mullins figures can be improved if you focus in on his runners that won last time out in a Grade 1 or 2 race – 5 winners from 9 runners 56% +13.23, 6 placed.
Since 2008 all the Mullins winners in the Supreme have met those two trends which points away from Facile Vega towards Il Etait Temps.
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Don’t be afraid to back something at big odds in the second of today’s handicaps. In the past 15 years horses priced 25/1 to 80/1 are – 7 winners from 138 runners +138, 16 placed.
Cheltenham Scoop 6/Placepot
The Tote are going to be running the Scoop 6 for all four days of the festival. For those readers thinking of going for the Scoop 6 or indeed the Placepot here are some unoriginal suggestions.
1:30 – Il Etait Temps & Strong Leader
2:10 – Jonbon
2:50 – Corach Rambler, Happygolucky & Fastorslow
3:30 – Constitution Hill
4:10 – Marie’s Rock & Brandy Love
4:50 – Sir Allen, Perseus Way & Romancero Le Dun.
Good luck with your Cheltenham bets.