Cheltenham – Day 1
I’m struggling to find anything I really fancy on Day 1. There are four short-priced favourites that will probably win (Getabird, Footpad, Buveur D’Air and Apples Jade) but they are of little interest to me as I won’t bet at such short odds. I will enjoy watching the races however. My betting interests on Day 1 will be more speculative than passionately committed.
This is a tricky looking Supreme – you could make cases for 4 or 5 of them. Getabird will probably get Mullins off to a good start but I’d prefer to have a few bob each way on Kim Bailey’s First Flow (11-1) – he will relish the ground and on form would be a shorter price if he had a more fashionable trainer. I’ll have a saver Nicky Henderson’s Claimantforgan at around 14-1 - Henderson has any number of decent young hurdlers so his selection for this race is worth taking seriously. Somerville Boy at 10-1 is a danger I’m aware of.
Willie Mullins regards Footpad as his bet bet of the meeting and I couldn’t disagree. I won’t be taking 5-4 on a novice chaser however so I will admire him win without financial interest. If he trips up I fancy Petit Mouchoir to take advantage - Henry de Bromhead has an excellent Cheltenham record.
Ultima Handicap Chase
This is a bit of a lottery but you keep an eye out for course form amongst the lower weights which is why Singlefarmpayment and Coo Star Sivola head the market. However I won’t touch anything under 10-1 here. I like Paul Nichols Vincente at 16-1 and will have a few bob on him and on Pipe’s promising young horse Ramses de Tailee (14-1). Pipe wins this race regularly. Shantou Flyer who I backed in his last two runs (second both times) would do me a disservice if he wins this time – I think he has too much weight.
Nobody wants to look beyond Buveur D’Air for this and it looks as if he only has to turn up. Faugheen is shot, Melon is flakey, My Tent or Yours is too old, Elgin is a jumped-up handicapper. My ew My Tent or Yours is a non-runner so I suppose an ew bet on one of Mullins makes sense. But which one? I will observe from afar.
Apple’s Jade at 4-7 is another shoo-in it seems. Only a fall or a sniper will stop him. Mullins’ Benie Des Dieux is being backed (he’s 7-2) and he seems the only threat.
National Hunt Chase
I don’t bet in novice chases as a general rule. This one has the added uncertainty factor of having amateur riders involved. Put a gun to my head and I’d say back Rathvinden – despite his being brought down and unseated his rider in his last two races. He’s more mature than most of the field and Ruby Walsh likes him (he won’t of course be riding him).
Close Brothers Novice Chase
Another novice chase so again I will be observing. Gordon Elliot may get his double via De Plotting Shed but if I were to bet I’d back Henderson’s Rather Be (10-1) ew. If I am desperate at this stage I might just do that.