Monday, March 11, 2019

Cheltenham 2019 - Day 1 Thoughts

Day 1 of Cheltenham is always my favourite with the Supreme Novices Hurdle, the Arkle Chase and the Champion Hurdle to relish. This year however I am filled with uncertainty about all three races. Mind you this is probably a healthier state than being filled with certainty. The Supreme is a complete conundrum. There’s six horses for whom I can convincingly make a case – and they make up the first six in the betting. Elixir de Nutz was my early choice but he’s a front runner and may set it up for a finisher. He beat Grand Sancy last time out narrowly – but staying on strongly, a good sign. He also beat Southfield Stone who has beaten the joint favourite Angel’s Breath – albeit getting five pounds. The other favourite, Al Dancer, may be just a good handicapper so I’m letting him go. The imponderables are the two Irish horses Klassical Dream and Fakir d’Oudairies. The latter won very easily already at Cheltenham and the former is Willie Mullins’ first choice. I’ll have a bet of course but a restrained one on Elixir de Nutz e.w. and Angel’s Breath – plus the forecast on the two. In the Champion Hurdle I think Gavin Cromwell’s Espoir D’Allen at 18-1 might be worth an e.w. bet. Melon ran a great race last year but I can’t forgive his lamentable last run where he jumped appallingly. I find it impossible to separate those at the head of the market (Lauriana, Apple’s Jade and Buveur D’Air) so I’m avoiding them in favor of this outsider at a decent price. Elsewhere I like Discorama in the last race – trained by my former greyhound trainer Paul Nolan. He ran very well here last year and has excellent recent form. I’ll nibble at Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard in the previous race. De Bromhead’s horses invariably run above themselves at Cheltenham. My mother always counseled me to avoid handicap chases but it’s hard to ignore Singlefarmpayment in the Ultima Chase. You do like to be involved no matter how problematical the race.