Horse Racing Tips

Cheltenham Festival Tips Day 1: Mark Milligan takes aim at the handicaps

Cheltenham Festival race action
Mark Milligan has a pair of selections on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival

Mark Milligan is taking a look at the Festival handicaps each day and has two selections to try and get us off to a flyer...

  • Mark Milligan has 11/1 and 14/1 tips for Tuesday

  • Monbeg Genius is going the right way

  • Sundial better than he's shown so far


It's the pinnacle of the jumps season, and while the Championship races will be the ones that many people focus on, I'm going to be looking at the handicaps each day of the Cheltenham Festival, where we'll likely find some cracking value with lots of extra places available.

The Irish will undoubtedly dominate the majority of the Festival once more, but the Ultima at 14:50 is one race that they tend not to have much influence over. In fact, you have to go back to Dun Doire in 2006 to find the last Irish-trained winner of this contest.

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With that in mind, it should be prudent to stick to British-trained runners and there are plenty in with chances, as you'd expect in such a competitive affair.

The rapidly improving Into Overdrive is the obvious starting point, having taken five of his last six races, advancing his mark from 112 to 147 in the process. Even that current lofty perch may underestimate him and it would be no surprise to see him go close once again.

Last year's winner sure to go well

Last year's winner Corach Rambler is another that looks sure to put up a bold show, particularly as he gets to race off a mark just 6lb higher than for that success.

Rather taken off his feet on good ground in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in November, he was doing all his best work late on there, eventually finishing a creditable fourth and will certainly benefit from the rain that's hit Prestbury Park over the last few days.

With this race and the Grand National in mind, Lucinda Russell's 9-y-o has been freshened since then and I certainly wouldn't put anyone off this one each-way with seven places available on the Sportsbook.

It will probably take something out of the ordinary to knock him out of the places at the very least.

A Genius selection

However, I'm going to side with one at a slightly bigger price from a yard that has had a good record in this race down the years.

Although he hasn't taken it recently, Jonjo O'Neill has won the Ultima three times and his Monbeg Genius has an upwardly-mobile profile coming into the contest.

Still unexposed over fences, this Shantou gelding has taken his last three races, and travelled and jumped noticeably well in each of them.

Those traits look sure to stand him in good stead as he faces a much bigger field for the first time.

It's highly likely his improvement hasn't levelled out just yet and his versatility as regards ground conditions is another plus point. A mark of 140 still looks workable and Monbeg Genius has a lot more upside than most in the field.

Back Monbeg Genius each-way @

11/1

Ireland to dominate Boodles

Ireland have dominated the Boodles (16:50) of late, winning the last five renewals, and they look to have a very strong favourite in the shape of the Willie Mullins-trained Tekao as they bid for the six-timer.

With just three runs to his name, Tekao looks to have plenty of upside and should be suited by what looks almost certain to be a strongly run affair.

A feature of his runs to date has been how keen he's been, though he did settle better in a first-time hood when third to Gala Marceau and Lossiemouth in the Grade 1 Spring Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.

He hasn't been missed in the market, though, and while he has the potential to dot up from an opening mark of 135, the fact that he can be a bit fizzy is enough to put me off at odds of around 10/3.

Take Sundial to shine

While J P McManus clearly holds a strong hand courtesy of Tekao, he has a couple of other runners in there too and I'm intrigued by the chances of Sundial, who looks a potential improver.

Representing last year's winning connections, Sundial was highly tried on his first three starts over hurdles and looked to have sound claims switched to handicap company at Punchestown last time.

However, he flopped there but ran such a poor race that I'm prepared to just accept he probably wasn't 100% on the day.

I'm convinced Sundial is a much better horse than we saw last time and his mark of 120 is probably a fair one based on some of the company he kept on his first few starts over timber.

He does have a remarkably similar profile to last year's winner Brazil, too, being an ex-Aidan O'Brien inmate who's sired by Galileo.

He's yet to demonstrate he has the same talent as his stable companion, but he could well be a good deal better than we've seen so far, and with six places on offer on the Sportsbook, 14/1 makes plenty of appeal from an each-way perspective.

Back Sundial each-way @

14/1

Recommended bets

Mark's P/L

Staked: 319 Returns: 377.97 P/L: +58.97

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