Cheltenham 2018 – Day 1 Preview & Tips
Supreme Novices' Hurdle
The Cheltenham Festival may build towards the Gold Cup on Friday but there is no better day in National Hunt racing than the Tuesday of the meeting.
Four Grade 1 races and the ever intriguing National Hunt Chase aka ‘The Four Miler’. This year there’s plenty of potential outcomes that could lift the roof on day one.
Can Getabird get the Irish off to a flyer?
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is a race that has been tossed around every which way in the hope of getting the week off to a good start and for plenty of years Willie and Ruby have been our go-to for that early winner.
There’s a bit of that factored into Getabird’s price and at 5/4 you are taking it on trust that he will follow through on the potential he showed when winning his two hurdle starts at Punchestown.
Going left handed has been brought up as a potential issue for the six-year-old and Mengli Khan has been suggested as a possible danger to the jolly..
..and with Mengli Khan being 12/1 it would be fantastic to be able to make a case for the bigger priced horse. It’s just hard to see how Mengli Khan will find the nine-lengths from their meeting in Punchestown and we can’t forget that he ran out in competitive action more recently than Getabird did in his point-to-point.
I think it’s difficult to look beyond Getabird, however, one horse that did catch my eye at a Labaik sort of price was Colin Tizzard’s Slate House who is 25/1 with BoyleSports and was 40/1.
He is a horse that might want further but you need to stay well to win a Supreme Novices’ and he is a course and distance winner twice.
The second was in a Grade 2 and he beat Summerville Boy who is now more than half his price.
His two disappointing runs came most recently but the Tizzard horses were definitely not firing in that period around December/Janaury and they’ve come back to form at the right time. He may run a big race.
Brave call in the Champion Hurdle
Will Buveur D’Air win the Champion Hurdle? Probably. Would I back him at 4/9? Definitely not. There will be plenty who want to back Buveur D’Air at short odds or add him to accumulators and they may well be proven right. If Faugheen improves from his last Leopardstown outing he might still not be good enough. If he returns to his best, he’ll win.
That is a big ‘IF’ unfortunately.
Faugheen would be the result that would send the place crazy but the value bet here could be a different Willie Mullins inmate.
Wicklow Brave hasn’t seen a hurdle since he won the Grade 1 at the Punchestown Festival last April. He has since been mixing it with the big boys on the flat and doing so with credit again, picking up a cheque in Australia on his last run in the Melbourne Cup.
At 14/1 and if ridden to be placed, there’s every chance Wicklow Brave might pick up another sizeable cheque on Tuesday and of all the horses with question marks, the nine-year-old looks to represent the best value at the moment.
Buveur D’Air should win but there is a concern about him in that he’s pretty much just cruised his way through this season..
..and when asked to race again in a more competitive race he might just wonder what it is all about so surely the best move here is to look for that each-way alternative.
Apple of our eye
Apple’s Jade wins. Getabird may divide opinion in the opener; the Champion Hurdle may pose a few questions that punters answer in different ways..
..but the most popular bet of the opening day will surely be Apple’s Jade in the Mares’ Hurdle.
When Quevega turned up in this race you knew to just place the bet and collect, and with Apple’s Jade it can be a similar situation next week.
Slate House 25/1 E/W – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Apple’s Jade 12/1 – Mares’ Hurdle
Wicklow Brave 14/1 E/W – Champion Hurdle
*Prices correct at time of publication.