Our regular racing Bets of the Day tipsters are joining forces for the Festival providing an Each-Way Edge play and a win bet across all four days of Cheltenham. Here are their Cheltenham Day 1 tips...
"Backing the favourite Buveur D'Air makes little appeal at the prices, but Yorkhill is the enigma that could be feared by all, so we can use the extra place on the Each-Way Edge, with four places playing a generous 13/2."
Alan Dudman - Yorkhill each-way value for another Festival win while Ms Parfois will love the going...
Champion Hurdle (15:30) - Enigmatic Yorkhill my Each-Way Edge play
Yorkhill's path to the Champion Hurdle hasn't entirely been smooth, nor predictable. I was thinking about him as a contender for the Stayers' route, his trainer Willie Mullins started the season thinking he was a Gold Cup horse, while the plan to test his jumping at 2m speed at the Dublin Festival last month was a disaster.
Then there was the erratic finale at Fairyhouse as a novice last term. To say this horse is quirky is an understatement. However, I was delighted to see him declared for this with the new 48 hour rules although it was quite a nervy wait. Mullins was 60-40 for a while.
But he is a massive talent, and as a two-time Festival winner, he might just come alive again for the switch to hurdles. He cruised to win the Neptune in 2016, and for a stayer, he doesn't lack for speed. The fact he stays well (when he is on a going day) should help with the ground conditions potentially having the word "heavy" in it. It might also put less pressure on his jumping, as he can be a bit clumsy - so he'll need to improve on that.
Backing the favourite Buveur D'Air makes little appeal at the prices, but Yorkhill is the enigma that could be feared by all, so we can use the extra place on the Each-Way Edge, with four places playing a generous 13/2.
National Hunt Challenge Cup (16:50) - Perfect for Parfois
Trainer Anthony Honeyball mentioned earlier in the season that he would be "all-over the four-miler" for Ms Parfois if the ground was soft. Well, it looks as though the handler's wish might just come true for the opening day of the Festival - as soft was appearing in updates on the Sunday and Monday, but so was heavy. Exciting times for deep ground horses.
Ms Parfois is a lovely big mare who jumps and stays and she is perfect for a race I always like to have a punt in. Back her at around [8.0].
She has been mentioned as a Welsh National type for the future, so we need not worry about her staying power.
Her latest run at Ascot in the Reynoldstown didn't suit in terms of the steady pace - although Black Corton got a super ride in front for that Grade 2. She steps up to a marathon trip today, and I am looking forward to seeing her jump around Prestbury Park. Conditions should really play to her strengths.
Alan Thompson - A pair of each-way plays for day one at Prestbury Park...
Ultima Handicap Chase (14:50) - Bear has the right profile
A couple of market principals caught my eye in this.
Nicky Henderson's Gold Present has turned into a really good handicapper, he travelled beautifully in the Close Brothers last year, finishing second, and his beating of Frodon at Ascot was impressive but a handicap mark of 155 looks too much in this company for me. Last year's heavily punted favourite Singlefarmpayment failed by just a nose to get up but his form hasn't been at the same level this year. He will know he is back at the Cheltenham Festival though and that normally brings out the best in him. It would be no surprise to see him charging up the hill in front but at the prices I would prefer to look elsewhere.
The horse I will be backing using Betfair's Each Way Edge to get seven places is one of Henderson's other runners, Beware The Bear. He won the Rehearsal Chase on his seasonal return and I think can be excused his run in the Welsh Grand National as he ran no sort of a race. He found four miles too much for him in last year's National Hunt Chase here at the Festival so a move back to three here should suit him. As an eight-year-old with just six career chase starts he fits the profile of an Ultima winner and at 9/1 with seven places available he's my selection.
Mares Hurdle (16:10) - Brave Bague each-way value in mares' race
Make no mistake, Apple's Jade is a superstar and will be very hard to beat in this. She wouldn't have looked out of place in the Stayers after her defeat of Supasundae at Christmas. Apples Jade is most people's best bet of the entire four days and it's hard to argue against that. However, she is short enough and that means that there could be each-way value elsewhere in the field.
The horse I like to make the frame at least, who knows Apples Jade isn't home and hosed just yet, is the Warren Greatrex-trained La Bague Au Roi who is as brave as they come. She will take them along in front making this a true test of stamina. And, as she has already beat Jer's Girl at Kempton giving the Irish mare 4lbs, I can't see how she can get beaten by her off level weights. If she can't get ahead of her then I just don't see three others in the field getting past her and pushing her out the frame and at 13/2.
Nick Shiambouros - Bets for the opening two races...
Supreme Novices' Hurdle (13:30) - First Flow value for a place
First Flow should make his presence felt in this mouthwatering opening race.
The ground has come right for this progressive gelding who comes in to this race unbeaten in three hurdles races. Last time out at Haydock he put in a much improved effort when beating Midnight Shadow in great style taking the lead four flights from home, and steadily pulling clear to win easily in testing conditions. I believe he can find the necessary improvement to run a big race and represents super Each Way Edge value at 15/2 (four places).
Getabird is the short priced favourite at 13/8 on the Sportsbook. Trainer Willie Mullins has a superb record in this race, and this improving gelding was most impressive when beating Mengli Khan at Punchestown in January. He is a deserving favourite, but looks short enough in what appears to be a competitive race.
Arkle Chase (14:10) - Mullins runner to put his Foot down
Footpad should prove exceedingly difficult to beat in this historic race. This smart performer has been nothing short of sensational this season winning two Grade 1 races with consummate ease. At Leopardstown last month he thrashed Petit Mouchoir. He made all the running, and was pushed clear to win with any amount in hand. He looks a natural over the larger obstacles and is blessed with a turn of foot. I will be surprised if he is defeated, and have backed him at his current price of [2.22] on the exchange.
Saint Calvados represents the home team. He impressed me when beating Diego Du Charmil at Warwick last month, but this race is much tougher to say the least. He needs to find a great deal of improvement to trouble the selection. At present he is trading at [3.9] on the exchange.
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