Paul Ferguson gets stuck into Cheltenham Day 1 and has four tips in the 2.05, 2.40. 3.20 and 4.40; Compare odds and bet
The feature on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle, where the first of our two ante-post selections goes to post in the shape of last year’s winner Hurricane Fly (3:20).
Having won impressively in the Irish Champion Hurdle since, I’m more than satisfied with the position we are in and hopefully many regular readers of my column will have secured the 11/4 as suggested back on 3 January.
If you’re not holding on to a voucher at such odds, it’s not too late to get involved as Willie Mullins’s eight-year-old looks a cut above the current two-milers and it is hoped that at least one of the major firms will offer Evens about him this morning (was a best price 10/11 on Monday evening).
Unoriginal it may be, but Mullins and Ruby Walsh can land another first day double as they did 12 months ago with Quevega (4:40) who can win her fourth successive David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle.
The eight-year-old hasn’t been seen since winning at the Punchestown Festival in May, but we know she goes well fresh and follows a tried and trusted path back to this year’s Festival.
She is simply in a different league to the opposition when facing her own sex and, though she is trading very short, she deserves to be such a price and it will be a huge shock if she is beaten.
The bookmakers could be in for a right hiding on the opening day with Sprinter Sacre (2:05) the other short priced favourite on the card also expected to score in the Racing Post Arkle.
Third in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old has looked an absolute superstar since going chasing this term and is another who deserves his short price.
Three from three over fences to date, the son of Network has clocked cracking times on all outings and could hardly have been more impressive in his Festival prep in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury last month.
His keenness and exuberance was the one worry going into the Arkle, but the fact that he only faces five rivals is in his favour and he will form the first leg for many who opt for a short-price treble on day one (treble pays around 9/2).
For those looking for a more “working class” price the most interesting runner in the three handicaps on the card is the novice Baile Anrai (2:40) in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase.
Ian Williams’s eight-year-old needs to bounce back from a fall at Ascot last time, but he was in the process of running a big race that day in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase when crashing out three fences from home.
Invictus went on to beat Bobs Worth and, though it is impossible to say the selection would have been involved, there is no denying he was far from out of contention and he looks potentially well treated.
Earlier he won novice chases at Towcester and Leicester, having finished runner-up to Fingal Bay in the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle in October. At 16/1 on Monday evening (with Ladbrokes) he is worth chancing each-way in a wide-open contest, with Williams’s string in fine form; he saddled three winners on the all-weather in March.
2:05 Cheltenham Festival Sprinter Sacre (10/11 VC, Paddy, Lads)
2:40 Cheltenham Festival Baile Anrai (each-way 16/1 Ladbrokes)
3:20 Cheltenham Festival Hurricane Fly (already advised 11/4)
4:40 Cheltenham Festival Quevega (4/7 Coral)
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Last Year’s Tips Included 40 Leading Prospects: £499.80 profit to a level £10!
- AL FEROF won Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 10-1
- BENSALEM won Stewart Family Handicap 5-1
- BOBS WORTH won A Bartlett 15-8, 4/4 for year
- CAPTAIN CHRIS won Arkle Trophy 6-1
- FIRST LIEUTENANT won Neptune Investment 7-1
- (plus Grade 1 in Ireland 16-1)
- JAMES DE VASSY won Lanzarote Hurdle 8-1
- LONG RUN won King George 9-2, Gold Cup 7-2
- OSCAR WHISKY won Aintree Hurdle 6-1
- Peddlers Cross (Fighting Fifth Hurdle)
- Medermit (Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase)
- FINIAN’S RAINBOW (Maghull Novices’ Chase)
- WISHFULL THINKING (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)