Timeform Shortlist: Cheltenham, Tuesday 12 March

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Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival is on Tuesday

Timeform's free shortlist comes from Cheltenham on Tuesday, where it is day one of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival...

"Her subsequent absence is no concern given the yard she represents..."

Timeform on Benie des Dieux

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1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (1) 2m87y

Timeform Top Rated:
163p 1. AL DANCER Nigel Twiston-Davies Sam Twiston-Davies
161p 18. FAKIR D'OUDAIRIES Joseph Patrick O'Brien J. J. Slevin
160 10. KLASSICAL DREAM W. P. Mullins R. Walsh

Analyst's Verdict:
Al Dancer was most impressive when taking apart a good field at Ascot and can retain his unbeaten record over hurdles with another big win, the prospect of a well-run race sure to see him in the best light. Juvenile Fakir d'Oudairies looks a key player, as does the exciting, well-backed Angels Breath, the choice of Nico de Boinville over stablemate Mister Fisher.

2.10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase (Grade 1) (1) 1m7f199y

Timeform Top Rated:
172p 3. DUC DES GENIEVRES W. P. Mullins P. Townend
170p 4. GLEN FORSA Mick Channon Jonathan Burke
169p 8. LALOR Kayley Woollacott Richard Johnson

Analyst's Verdict:
No novice chaser this season has looked more assured than Glen Forsa in the jumping department. Indeed, he produced a power-packed display when making Kalashnikov look decidedly ordinary at Sandown and will take plenty of stopping here. Duc des Genievres is next on the list ahead of fellow Irish-raider Hardline.

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (1) 3m1f

Timeform Top Rated:
169x 4. MINELLA ROCCO Jonjo O'Neill Richie McLernon
168+ 14. UP FOR REVIEW W. P. Mullins P. Townend
167+ 16. COO STAR SIVOLA Nick Williams Lizzie Kelly (3)

Analyst's Verdict:
Jonjo O'Neill has a good record in this race and it's perhaps worth chancing Minella Rocco, who could well have needed both outings this season. Still only a 9-y-o he's very well treated on his Gold Cup second in 2017 and, interestingly, he now has cheekpieces and a tongue tie combined for the first time since then. Up For Review, Mister Whitaker and Vintage Clouds head the many dangers.

3.30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) (1) 2m87y

Timeform Top Rated:
185 8. APPLE'S JADE Gordon Elliott J. W. Kennedy
178 2. BUVEUR D'AIR Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
177 5. MELON W. P. Mullins P. Townend

Analyst's Verdict:
After easy wins on all 4 outings this term, including most impressively back at 2m in the Irish Champion latest, Apple's Jade is taken to thwart Buveur d'Air as that one bids to become the first since Istabraq to complete a hat-trick in the race. Laurina, who burst on to the scene with her Dawn Run success last year, has yet to taste defeat for Willie Mullins and is another fascinating contender.

4.10 OLBG Mares' Hurdle (David Nicholson) (Grade 1) (1) 2m3f200y

Timeform Top Rated:
167p 2. BENIE DES DIEUX W. P. Mullins R. Walsh
158+ 10. LIMINI W. P. Mullins D. J. Mullins
157 13. ROKSANA Dan Skelton Harry Skelton

Analyst's Verdict:
Benie des Dieux took advantage of a below-par Apple's Jade twice last spring (formerly in this race) and that form is well in advance of the opposition here. Her subsequent absence is no concern given the yard she represents and she can provide Willie Mullins with his tenth win in the race. Roksana shaped well on last month's reappearance and is second choice in favour of Limini.

4.50 Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed) (1) 2½m44y

Timeform Top Rated:
163p 14. RIDERS ONTHE STORM Tom J. Taaffe Brian Hughes
162 13. MOVEWITHTHETIMES Paul Nicholls Barry Geraghty
161 11. SPRINGTOWN LAKE Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson

Analyst's Verdict:
Tower Bridge ran a cracker in last year's Albert Bartlett and posted much his best effort in this discipline when second to Duc des Genievres at Gowran last time. He gets the vote in a typically-open renewal of this contest. Fellow Irish raiders A Plus Tard and Riders Onthe Storm are feared most, whilst Springtown Lake may be best of the home contingent.

5.30 National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase (Grade 2) (1) 3m7f147y

Timeform Top Rated:
168p 1. BALLYWARD W. P. Mullins Mr P. W. Mullins
166 5. DISCORAMA Paul Nolan Mr Barry O'Neill
165p 13. OK CORRAL Nicky Henderson Mr Derek O'Connor

Analyst's Verdict:
It looks significant that Ballyward is the sole Willie Mullins runner given the fine record of son Patrick and the yard in the race. He probably would have won at Naas even without Discorama's fall and he should relish this test. OK Corral jumped like a seasoned pro when winning on just his second start over fences at Warwick and is a big player. Whisperinthebreeze completes the shortlist.

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