Day One Best Bets – Cheltenham 2018
Arkle Challenge Trophy
We really can’t downplay how interesting the heavy ground will be this week but as BoyleSports ambassador Robbie Power said on Monday, “It is what it is and there’s damn all we can do about it”, so hopefully we can start the week as we mean to go on.
Getabird to get the Irish off to a flyer
It’s just so hard to look beyond Getabird. We all want fancy priced winners but realistically we just want to back the winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle regardless of the price.
There’s no doubt that Getabird is short in what looks a good race, but he has done little wrong.
Unbeaten in four for Willie Mullins, they know exactly what is required for this race and the vibes are good. The opposition is decent too though and Slate House was a horse I thought could run well at a price, First Flow came out on top in the trends article I did for BoyleSports and Kalashnikov is well fancied after winning a valuable handicap hurdle, although he wouldn’t be my cup of tea.
Mengli Khan is very highly thought of in Gordon’s yard but the ground is a concern for him and even if the ground was perfect, it is just hard to see how he’d reverse the form of the thrashing handed down to him by Getabird.
I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off backing First Flow or Slate House each-way but Getabird gets the nod.
Foot perfect is vital
I do think that the Arkle could be one of the most fascinating races of the week despite being the lowest amount of runners. Plenty of these will want to go a good gallop but the ground will surely deter that and Footpad is probably the most straightforward horse to ride although his jumping might bring him to a more prominent position than Ruby wants to be in.
That said, if you have a tactical race around Cheltenham you don’t want anyone else on your side other than Ruby Walsh and it could well be a familiar start to this Cheltenham Festival, even despite the ground, with Willie and Ruby notching up the first two Grade Ones.
Footpad has been electric in his novice chases and at the end of the day that will be the biggest asset of all and the ground shouldn’t be an issue for him. Willie Mullins said last week he could see Footpad being a potential Gold Cup candidate in time. Glowing praise indeed and let’s hope he is right.
Read Niall Cronin’s Champion Hurdle preview here.
Any Winner Now
Ted Walsh will saddle Any Second Now in the concluding novice handicap chase and the six-year-old can hopefully overcome his inexperience in this sort of company.
Any Second Now has mixed it with the best novices in Ireland of late and while he does have plenty of weight to contend with, the lightest weight in the race is Mister Whitaker with 11st2lbs. So, Any Second Now only has 8lbs to give away which is certainly very doable if getting luck in-running and not being fazed by the hustle and bustle of a Cheltenham handicap as he steps out of small fields.
Getabird (7/4) – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, 1.30
Footpad (Evens) – Arkle Chase, 2.10
Any Second Now (7/1) – Close Bros’ Novices’ Hcap Chase
*Prices correct at time of publication