I have the pleasure of being at all three days of the Open meeting so keep an eye out, not only for a column such as this each evening/morning before racing, but also the odd snippet of information from the track via my twitter feed – @WillSmith_2.
Day one begins with the amateur riders’ handicap chase featuring Standing Ovation, who goes for the five-timer.
He is a stingy 7/4 however, despite not being proven left handed let alone at as unique a course as Cheltenham. He is worth taking on.
Tony Martin was thinking along the lines of last season’s Kim Muir at the festival for his likable staying mare Victrix Gale. But it didn’t transpire.
She is rated 125 over fences in this country and that wouldn’t have guaranteed her a run in the last five runnings of the Kim Muir – whereas a small rise would, and so a bold showing to gain such a rise should be expected for a trainer who doesn’t send runners over on a whim. At 7/1, she is good value against the favourite.
Crack amateur Jamie Codd is a very eyecatching jockey booking too, and he could get a sweet tune out of this unexposed mare.
I also can’t ignore Hunters Lodge, who came from the clouds to win a similar race at the track in October, and finished third in this race last year. He comes alive when faced with the Cheltenham hill, and at 12/1 with Coral is a ridiculous price, particularly as first-time cheekpieces could coax even more from him.
The 2m handicap chase is quite competitive but Venetia Williams could well continue her blistering form with a win for Renard.
On the face of it, five unplaced runs at the track doesn’t inspire. But he has often raced here over further or on unsuitable soft ground.
He gets 2m and good ground tomorrow at Cheltenham for the first time in a long while, and is handicapped to win, being 6lbs lower than his last win. Plus, he ran a really bold race last time out on seasonal reappearance, and that will have put him spot on for this.
At 8/1 with Boylesports he is another cracking bet.
The rest of the card is probably best watched, especially the intermediate handicap hurdle at 2.40, as it will produce many future winners.