Published on March 13th, 2017 | by Ian John
Bet365 Sport Cheltenham Festival Preview – Our Top Tips For The First Day’s Action
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The action starts on Tuesday 14th March and runs across four days through until Friday 17th March. There are a total of seven races each day of the meeting, with the Championship race held each day at 3.30pm, with the exception of Thursday which sees two Championship races, an additional one held at 2.50pm.
The biggest race of the meeting is the Cheltenham Gold Cup which takes place at 3.30pm on Friday 17th March, but there are a host of big races taking place across all four days and the full schedule of races for each day is outlined below.
Cheltenham Festival Schedule
Tuesday 14th March
- 1-30pm – Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) (£125,000)
- 2-10pm – Racing Post Arkle Novices Chase (Grade 1) (£175,000)
- 2-50pm – Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (£105,000)
- 3-30pm – Stan James Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (£400,000)
- 4-10pm – OLGB Mares Hurdle (Grade 1) (£110,000)
- 4-50pm – J.T.McNamara National Hunt Chase (Grade 2) (£120,000)
- 5-30pm – Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase (Listed) (£70,000)
Wednesday 15th March
- 1-30pm – Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) (£125,000)
- 2-10pm – RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (£175,000)
- 2-50pm – Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) (£95,000)
- 3-30pm – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) (£350,000)
- 4-10pm – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (£65,000)
- 4-50pm – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (£80,000)
- 5-30pm – Weatherbuys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) (£75,000)
Thursday 16th March
- 1-30pm – JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (£150,000)
- 2-10pm – Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle) (£95,000)
- 2-50pm – Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (£300,000)
- 3-30pm – Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1) (£300,000)
- 4-10pm – Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase) (£105,000)
- 4-50pm – Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (£80,000)
- 5-30pm – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (£70,000)
Friday 17th March
- 1-30pm – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (£125,000)
- 2-10pm – Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (£95,000)
- 2-50pm – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (£125,000)
- 3-30pm – Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (£575,000)
- 4-10pm – St James Place Foxhunter Chase (£45,000)
- 4-50pm – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle (£65,000)
- 5-30pm – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap (Grade 3) (£105,000)
Big Race Runners, Riders and Tips – Tuesday
We’re now going to have a look at the big races of the first day of the Cheltenham Festival and give you a breakdown of the runners and riders as well as the current odds and our tip as to which horse is a solid bet to win and which looks a decent outside chance for an each way punt.
Tuesday 1.30pm – SkyBet Supreme Novices Hurdle
Bet365 Betting Odds – Melon (5/2), Ballyandy (7/2), Bunk off Early (5/1), River Wylde (13/2), Crack Mome (9/1), High Bridge (16/1), Cilaos Emery (20/1), Beyond Conceit (20/1), Elgin (25/1), Labaik (40/1), Pingshou (50/1), Glaring (66/1), Capital Force (66/1), Magna Cartor (100/1).
My Tip – Cheltenham legend Willie Mullins has a couple of real contenders in the first race of the Festival and the Irish trainer has enjoyed some fantastic meetings here in the past. Melon is arguably his best shot, but Bunk off Early and Crack Mome are also in with a real chance for the trainer. Nigel Twistleton-Davies Ballyandy has real form however and will give Mullin’s brood a real test, but my money here is going on Melon to take the opener and I think Crack Mome at 9/1 is a decent each way bet to finish in the top four.
Tuesday 2.10pm – Racing Post Arkle Chase
Bet365 Betting Odds – Altior (1/4), Charbel (9/1), Royal Caviar (14/1), Cloudy Dream (16/1), Some Plan (20/1), Forest Bihan (20/1), A Hare Breath (40/1), Ordinary World (40/1), Three Stars (66/1)
My Tip – There is absolutely no doubt here that the class act in this field is Nicky Henderson’s Altior. Ridden by Nico do Boinville, he is as yet unbeaten in his six races winning them all and he starts as a massive odds on favourite here and there is no way I can back against him, given the quality of the field. For a value each way bet, Forest Bihan at 20/1 has some decent form of late and looks like he could sneak a place in the top three, if he can jump the fences well.
Tuesday 3.30pm – Stan James Champion Hurdle
Bet365 Betting Odds – Yanworth (5/2), Buveur D’air (4/1), Petit Mouchoir (6/1), Brain Power (7/1), Moon Racer (9/1), The New One (12/1), My Tent or Yours (16/1), Footpad (16/1), Sceau Royal, Wicklow Brave, Ch’tibello and Cyrus Darius all 33/1
My Tip: Irish trainers have an excellent record in the Champion Hurdle, winning the last four races and while Yanworth is a favourite here due to his excellent form, his hurdling style under pressure leave him open to doubt. My choice is the Irish trained Petit Mouchoir, who has come on in leaps and bounds since falling at Newcastle, winning both his last races at Leopardstown. With the ground drying out, this will play to his strengths, while undermining the likes of Buveur D’Air and Yanworth who both prefer a little softer going. As an each way punt, don’t rule out 16/1 shot Footpad, trained by Willie Mullins who has trained the winner of this race the past two years and who finished a close second to Petit Mouchoir last time out at Leopardstown.
Tuesday 4.30pm – J.T.McNamara National Hunt Chase
Bet365 Betting Odds – A Genie in Abottle (4/1), Edwulf (9/2), Champers on Ice (8/1), Beware the Bear (8/1), Arpege D’alene (11/1), Martello Tower (12/1), Bigbadjohn (12/1), Tiger Roll (16/1), Haymount (16/1), Flintham (16/1). 20-1 Bar.
My Tip – The favourite and second favourite dominate the betting here in what is always a very hotly contested race, but my money is going on the Nicky Henderson trained Beware the Bear. The horse has won all four of its last few races, including all three its race in this year and in Sam Waley-Cohen, it has a jockey on board who knows his way around the track at Cheltenham. The question mark is whether he can stay the extra mile, having won all his races at 2m 7f. A solid outside each way bet is Dancing Shadow, a 25/1 shot with Bet365, who has won his last two outings and who has proven they have the legs to go the distance.