Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Preview – Champion Day
One of the biggest weeks on the National Hunt racing calendar is almost here, with the Champion Hurdle the feature race on Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival.
Here are our Cheltenham Festival betting tips for an action-packed first day of racing.
Alan Brazil’s Cheltenham Festival 2019 | Day 1 Preview
Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle Betting Tips
Champion Hurdle (15:30)
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival gets off to a flyer on Tuesday with Buveur D’Air gunning for a third Champion Hurdle on the trot in the day’s feature race.
The eight-year-old will be looking to enter the history books alongside the likes of See You Then and Istabraq by claiming three consecutive wins in the Grade 1 race (15:30).
Hopes of a historic treble might be dashed if Apple’s Jade brings her Irish Champion Hurdle form to Cheltenham. She stormed to victory in Leopardstown back in February and looks in prime condition for a repeat performance here.
If either of those two let up, Laurina could become a legend on day one. Unbeaten in six starts, she already has form on this track with a Festival win here last season in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
Cheltenham Festival Betting Tips –
Day 1 Racecard
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (13:30)
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle kicks off proceedings at 13:30, but will Al Dancer have a spring in his step after hearing the famous ‘Cheltenham Roar’ in full swing for the first race of the festival? He impressed with victory at Ascot back in February and won the Catesby Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.
Fakir D’Oudairies and Angels Breath look to be the closest contenders to stop him from taking the win, with the former enjoying a strong run at the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at the start of the year.
Arkle Challenge Trophy (14:10)
In the Arkle Challenge Trophy (14:10), Lalor will be looking to reign supreme at the front of the field, but he’ll face stiff competition from Glen Forsa. A sluggish start at Sandown in December is a concern for Lalor, but a commanding performance on the old course last autumn suggests he could have something in his locker on one of his preferred stomping grounds.
The force could be with Glen Forsa after he signed off 2018 in style with comfortable wins at Chepstow and Kempton before a surprise victory over another Arkle runner, Kalashnikov, at Sandown last month.
Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (14:50)
Could Give Me A Copper coin it in with victory in the Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase?
The nine-year-old put in an assured performance in finishing fourth at the Masters Handicap Chase at Sandown in February, all the more impressive for the fact that was his first start in more than a year. He looks in good shape to stay the distance in the 3m 1f race.
His closest challenge could come from 2017 Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco. The Jonjo O’Neill-trained hope can blow hot and cold, but a 5th placed finish here in January doesn’t inspire confidence.
If the predicted rain arrives, that could spell good news for Mister Whitaker, with trainer Mick Channon talking up his chances this week if Day 1 sees the heavens open.
David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle (16:10)
In the day’s final Grade 1 race, the Mares’ Hurdle (16:10), Willie Mullins will be pinning his hopes on Benie Des Dieux as arguably his most obvious banker at this year’s festival. Otherwise, look to Benie’s stablemate Limini who ran well to claim a third-place finish in this race back in 2017. Expect Lady Buttons to also sew up a spot in the final reckoning after a four-race winning streak.
Novices Handicap Chase (16:50)
Can Riders Onthe Storm run riot in the penultimate race of the day? He held his nerve to win back at Punchestown in February and looks Tom Taafe’s best chance to claim a first Festival victory in a decade. Highway One O One could be an intriguing pick after motoring to a second-place finish in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase back in January. Further down the field, Cubomania is a four-time winner over fences and picked up a victory at Cheltenham last October, making him an intriguing each-way option.
National Hunt Chase (17:30)
Ok Corral’s chances of taking Day 1’s final race look convincing after Nicky Henderson’s charge impressed over the fences at Plumpton and Warwick at the turn of the year, although Discorama deserves serious attention despite falling at the last in Naas back in January. Ballywardwas the winner that day and has the staying power to finish off the festival’s first day of racing with a flourish.
Some horses are entered for more than one race; line-ups may be subject to change