2015 Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide: Day 1
1.30 SKY BET SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE
Douvan – Two from two since joining Willie Mullins from France winning at both Gowran Park and Punchestown with the minimum of fuss. Tall reputation but ground will be much faster than he has encountered so far and will have to be as good as connections think against tougher opposition to justify short price.
L’Ami Serge – Failed to get off the mark in six starts in France before joining Nicky Henderson. Impressive winner of Newbury handicap off mark of 132 on stable debut (form worked out well with 2nd and 3rd going on to land decent prizes) and no trouble following up at Ascot and Sandown.
Jollyallan – Easy winner of first three starts over hurdles and no disgrace when just touched off by the experienced Garde La Victoire at Sandown latest when receiving just 2lb.
Shaneshill – Outstanding Bumper form. Runner up to Silver Concorde at festival before gaining revenge on that horse at Punchestown. Easy winner when long odds on at Fairyhouse on hurdling debut and almost certainly better than second in Navan Grade 2 on second start. Not to be underestimated despite stable’s second string.
Qewy – Decent flat performer who improved significantly for hurdling debut with impressive victory in competitive Newbury contest after travelling well and showing a good turn of foot. Open to a lot more improvement and not easily passed over.
Alvisio Ville – Easy winner of Leopardstown novice hurdle on debut for Willie Mullins and backed as if defeat was out of the question in Grade 1 won by Nichols Canyon last time but could manage only third. Obviously well regarded and too early to write off just yet.
Tell Us More – Another lightly-raced Willie Mullins inmate who failed to land the odds against 33-1 stable companion at Naas in January and almost certainly better than bare form suggests.
Conclusion: Betting suggests this is probably a two-horse race but looks ripe for an upset and no surprise to see Willie Mullins win this with one of his less fancied runners. Shaneshill has top class Bumper form on the course and at 12-1 is the value to get the better of his better fancied stable companion.
Recommendation – 1 Point each-way Shaneshill 12-1 William Hill (Money back
as a FREE bet on all losers)
2.05 RACING POST ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY CHASE
Un De Sceaux – One of the most exciting horses in training and would have been unbeaten in 12 starts to date but for falling on chase debut at Thurles. Impressive in two starts subsequently and looks the obvious winner if putting in a clear round. At a general 8-13 however represents nothing in the way of value on a course which takes plenty of jumping.
Vibrato Valtat – Best form of the home contingent and while looking less than resolute on occasions has proved that reputation all wrong following a breathing operation. Jumps well and has a turn of foot so if able to keep tabs on the favourite capable of causing a shock. Advised at 20-1 in the ante-post market (READ FULL TIP HERE).
Josses Hill – One of last season’s top novice hurdlers finishing second to Vautour at the festival before winning at Aintree but has not looked a natural since going chasing and likely to be found out in what is sure to be a fast run race.
Clarcam – Took the scalp of Vautour at Leopardstown over Christmas but put in his place by the favourite last time and needs that horse to underperform badly if he is to turn the tables.
Sgt Reckless – Excellent novice hurdle form and has been waiting for this better
ground. Decent chance of making the frame.
Three Kingdoms – Done little wrong since going chasing and this consistent performer could take advantage if the principles fail to run their race. Each way possibilities.
Conclusion: Quite simply if Un De Sceaux takes to the Cheltenham fences he will probably have the race won some way out but at current odds is passed over from a value perspective. Anyone following our ante-post advice by taking the 20-1 about Vibrato Valtat have a cracking each way bet while the same odds offered about Sgt Reckless make some appeal also to make the frame.
2.40 ULTIMATE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS HANDICAP CHASE
Pendra – The mount of champion jockey Tony McCoy and has been well backed over the last week or so and only 2lb higher than when third in last year’s Rewards4Racing Novices’ Chase. Just the one run this season when fourth a Newbury last November. Chance but looks short enough now at around the 6-1 mark.
Ned Stark – First run out of novice company but similar credentials to the stable’s Bensalem who looked the winner of this race in 2010 before falling at the second-last. Went on to win 12 months later and after winning Wetherby Grade 2 contest Ned Stark could go one better by triumphing at the first attempt off what looks a reasonable mark of 137.
The Druids Nephew – Excellent second to Gold Cup outsider Sam Winner in handicap at Cheltenham’s Open meeing before running well for a long way in Newbury’s Hennessy. Respectable effort in Cleeve Hurdle latest and could enhance Grand National prospects with big run but now racing off a career-high mark of 146.
Barrakilla – Possibly lucky to finish second in big Cheltenham handicap in December but looked to be crying out for longer trip so extra half a mile should suit and not badly handicapped.
Gallant Oscar – Irish challenger from the shrewd stable of Tony Martin so not to be underestimated but disappointed when well backed to take Thyestes Chase won by Gold Cup hope Djakadam.
Gevrey Chambertin – Came back to form with an all the way win at Newbury in December but now off a 9lb higher mark and course form reads PU-9-PU. Theatre Guide – Third in 2013 Hennessy off a 2lb higher mark and has a 6lb pull with Monbeg Dude for just over a length in a valuable contest at Cheltenham the following month. Capable of going well back in handicap company after competing at Grade 2 and Grade 1 level.
Conclusion: A wide-open twenty four-runner handicap in which the majority
can be give a chance including several longshots such as Indian Castle and
Tenor Nivernais but the return to handicap company should suit Theatre Guide
who would have a massive chance if reproducing his Hennessy gold Cup form
3.20 STAN JAMES CHAMPION HURDLE
Faugheen – Unbeaten in seven hurdle starts to date and a potential superstar in the making but this is the stiffest test the son of Germany has encountered and will answer plenty of questions. The most likely winner based on style of victories over slightly lesser class animals but short enough at evens as a betting proposition.
The New One – Many regarded Nigel Twiston-Davies’ gelding as an unlucky loser 12 months ago after suffering early interference but it may be that the seven-year-old just lacks the tactical speed to win a Champion Hurdle and could be staying on when the race is over.
Jezki – The reigning champion after beating My Tent Or Yours, The New One and Hurricane Fly 12 months ago but has not been seen to good advantage on soft ground in Ireland this season. Will not give up title without a fight under ideal conditions for the first time since winning at the Punchestown festival last May.
Hurricane Fly – One of the greatest hurdlers in the history of the sport and will attempt to join an elite band of horses who have won the race on three occasions. The impression is that the son of Montjeu needs plenty of cut in the ground to be competitive at this level now and with good to soft conditions almost certain is likely to find one or two too good in the twilight of an outstanding career.
Conclusion: A fascination Champion Hurdle in which the up and coming
Faugheen can fight out the finish with last year’s winner Jezki. At the 9-2
available the latter looks a cracking each-way alternative to the favourite and is
taken to provide Tony McCoy with a final victory in the race.
Recommendation – 1 Point each-way Jezki 9-2 (Generally)
4.00 OLBG MARES’ HURDLE
Annie Power – Outstanding Irish mare whose only defeat came in last season’s World Hurdle when second to More Of That. Has been sidelined since winning at Punchestown festival last May. Difficult envisaging defeat for the mare providing she runs up to anything like her best form, which is in a different league to the opposition.
Glens Melody – An able deputy for the Mullins’ stable should anything untowards happen to the favourite. Runner up to stablemate Quevega 12 months ago and likely to fill the same position after her impressive Warwick victory last month.
Polly Peachum – Was eventually pulled up after running inexplicably badly at Kempton in November, two weeks after an impressive seasonal reappearance when carrying top weight to victory in a Wincanton handicap. Improved leaps and bound towards end of last season and could pose the Mullins’ pair most problems if forgiving latest effort.
L’Unique – Consistent mare who was third last year and is closely matched with Polly Peachum on Cheltenham handicap form at their April meeting but possibly lacking the scope of that horse.
Carole’s Spirit – Not out of the first two in last six races and just failed to give 5lb to fellow rival Bitofapuzzle at Ascot in January and likely to finish in the first half dozen without troubling principles.
Conclusion: Providing Annie Power is somewhere near her best this should be a foregone conclusion but is it worth taking odds of 4-7 about a horse that has yet to see the racecourse this season? The Nicky Henderson-trained Polly Peachum looked a rapidly improving mare until blotting her copybook at Kempton but is likely to be spot on for the festival and is the each-way value at 10-1.
Recommendation – 1 Point each-way Polly Peachum 10-1 (Generally)
4.40 TOBY BALDING NATIONAL HUNT CHASE
Very Wood – Originally an intended runner in the more prestigious RSA Chase on Wednesday connections have decided to go for the longer race with a horse whose biggest asset is stamina. A shock 33-1 winner of the Albert Bartlett at last year’s festival when staying on too strongly for the opposition and got off the mark over fences with a victory at Galway in October. Pulled up the next twice the six-year-old came back to form with a win in a Grade 2 contest at Navan last month and could prove differ class to the opposition.
Sego Success – Winner of novice chases at Wetherby and Warwick, the former when beating subsequent Sky Bet Chase winner If In Doubt and marathon trip could bring even more improvement.
Cause Of Causes – Close second in last season’s Kim Muir before finishing twelfth in Irish Grand National. Has shown little in two starts this season but has no doubt been primed for this by powerful connections and leading playing providing trip proves within capablilities on ground that suits.
The Job Is Right – The only horse to give Gold Cup hope Djakadam a race in Thyestes Chase before falling at the last and not disgraced in Grade 2 hurdle latest. Top amateur booked and ran Very Wood to just over a length over an inadequate 2m 6f trip at Galway back in October.
Cogry – Winner at Chepstow and Warwick this season, the latest when beating fellow rival Doing Fine by a neck and once again should be little between the pair without either being quite good enough.
Perfect Gentleman – Willie Mullins contender who proved no match for Gilgamboa last time and this is over a mile further than the ten-year-old has been before but chance if improving for the extra distance.
Conclusion: Very Wood could prove different class to these and has services of the talented Nina Carberry but lacks the experience of Cause Of Causes who must have a big chance is staying the marathon trip so the advice is to back both.
5.15 CHAPS RESTAURANTS BARBADOS NOVICES’ HANDICAP CHASE
The most open race of the day with only 6lb covering all twenty runners and difficult to eliminate anything completely. Generous Ransom is sure to prove popular following his victory over the course in January while Thomas Crapper has some excellent course form including when runner up to RSA Chase favourite Don Poli in the Martin Pipe 12 months ago. Bold Henry, the mount of Tony McCoy, won over the course at Cheltenham’s Open meeting while we have yet to see the best of the Paul Nicholls-trained Keltus over fences, but in such a wide-open affair it could be worth chancing Cold March at a huge price.
The five-year-old has had just the four runs for Venetia Williams since coming from France and after falling at the first on debut has given the impression in two narrow defeats that a faster pace on decent ground would suit, both of which the mount of Aidan Coleman should be guaranteed tomorrow afternoon.
Recommendation – 1 Point each-way Cold March 33-1 Coral (money back on