Paul Callaghan’s Cheltenham Festival 2021 Preview – Day 1

With just four weeks to go, former jockey Paul Callaghan looks ahead to the big races on Day 1 of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Despite not being at his best at the Dublin Racing Festival, Appreciate It still won. Second in the Champion Bumper at the festival last March, Appreciate It is unbeaten over hurdles and sets the standard. He’s a worthy 6/4 favourite in a race that Irish runners have a fantastic record in. He’s not a working man’s price but he is one for the multi bets.

At a price, I think Blue Lord is worth considering for a small each way wager at 20/1. If settling better, which he should as there will be plenty of pace on, I would fancy him to stay on for a place.

Arkle Chase.
In my opinion this is the race of the festival! Shishkin was my ante post fancy for the festival last October, now I’m not so sure.

He’s been exceptional so far, albeit in small fields but the times of his races over fences, on soft ground, have been pretty fast.

I’m not one to jump ship so I am going to stick with him.

Current price 10/11.

Energumene has everything. Should ground conditions at Prestbury Park turn up soft, it would surely enhance his chances. He was brilliant at Leopardstown, as he was on his two previous starts over fences.

For a big horse he’s very athletic and operates impressively over his fences, whether that’s on a long or short stride, or on a wrong stride, Energumene can do it all. For a big horse with so little experience, that’s impressive. Current price 5/2.

I would love to see the ground dry out for Darver Star. He was beaten a long way out at Leopardstown when I’d imagine he couldn’t get out of the ground.

I don’t think he’d be good enough to beat the top two in the betting but on drier ground, he might just nick the third spot. Current price 33/1.

Allmankind is also worth a mention for the Skeltons. It amazes me how he finishes his races despite his over exuberant style of racing in the early stages. Current price 10/1.

Champion Hurdle. NON-RUNNER CASH BACK.
I was delighted to see Honeysuckle put in that performance in the Irish Champion Hurdle. If the ground turns up soft it will take a fair performance from the others to beat her.

Should conditions dry out, that will sway the advantage in favour of Epatante and Abacadabras, who followed Honeysuckle home in second place at Leopardstown.

I think Honeysuckle wins; it’s great to see her add a bit of needed spice to the Champion Hurdle picture. Current price 9/4.

I think Abacadabras is an each-way play currently priced at 11/1.

Bet here.

*Prices correct at time of publication