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Cheltenham Festival 2021: Day One Preview

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The Cheltenham Festival roars into action on Tuesday and here we preview all the big races along with tips and insight for other races on the day one card. 

1.20 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Just the eight go to post for this year’s renewal with Willie Mullins seeking his fifth victory in the race in the last 10 years with the favourite, Appreciate It. The dual Grade 1 winner has been impressive this season but there’s a question mark over whether two miles on quicker, spring ground is what he’ll want. A similar question can be asked of Metier who has done all his winning in softer conditions. Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory will have no such issues and for all that winners from that contest have a poor record in this, he won it in such style that he has to be a major player.

Ballyadam finished second behind Appreciate It last time but it would be no surprise to see him get a lot closer on the forecast ground. One who has been seemingly overlooked at a massive price is For Pleasure. For all that he lacks the class of most of these, he’s proven over course and distance with his win in the Supreme Trial and as he’s almost certain to make all, he may cling on to a place. 

Smarkets 1-2-3

  1. Soaring Glory
  2. Appreciate It
  3. For Pleasure

1.55 Arkle Chase

With no Energumene in the race, this looks at the mercy of Shishkin, who is looking for his second Festival win and his seventh victory in a row. There are very few negatives with Nicky Henderson’s stable star but if you were looking for holes, he does seem to hit a flat spot in his races and his win in last year’s Supreme was far from convincing. Perhaps if Allmankind can get his own way in front then he could get Nico de Boinville out of rhythm and Captain Guinness is likely to go from the front too, but really this is all about one horse. 

Smarkets 1-2

  1. Shishkin
  2. Allmankind

3.05 Champion Hurdle 

A really competitive renewal of the race that’s much deeper than just Honeysuckle vs. Epatante. The former remains unbeaten but with good-to-soft ground forecast, it would be no surprise to see the likes of Abacadabras and Sharjah get a lot closer on Tuesday. As for Epatante, she was tactically exposed in the Christmas Hurdle and for all that it came to light that her poor performance that day was due to a back injury, you do have to wonder whether her victory in the race last year was more down to a Barry Geraghty masterclass than anything else. Goshen looked back to his best at Wincanton last time but that Cheltenham performance from earlier in the season still lingers in the mind - has his infamous fall at the Festival last year left an indelible mark? Of those at bigger prices, Aspire Tower, second in last year’s Triumph, could easily reverse form from earlier in the season with Sharjah and has previously had the beating of Abacadabras. 

Smarkets 1-2-3

  1. Honeysuckle
  2. Aspire Tower
  3. Sharjah

Elsewhere on day one...

Kim Bailey’s Happygolucky has been hugely popular in the Ultima at 2.30pm and ticks all the boxes with proven Festival form for a stable in good form, but don’t write off Pym of Nicky Henderson’s who has acquitted himself well at Cheltenham previously, is versatile ground-wise and looks to have a workable mark. 

The Boodles at 4.15 looks as competitive as ever with a lot of attention focused around Houx Gris of Paul Nicholls, who falls firmly into the ‘could be anything’ category. At a bigger price, Riviere D’etel was very impressive on his first start for this yard earlier this season and his last run can be forgiven. The National Hunt Chase at 4.50 looks at the mercy of Galvin, especially with better ground forecast.


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