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Cheltenham Festival Tips: Sporting Ferret’s Best Bets for Day One of the Festival

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Cheltenham Festival 2021: Day One Tips

It’s finally here. Were just one day away from the pinnacle of the National Hunt calendar, the Cheltenham Festival. Of course, due to the pandemic, it will be a completely different week from what we’re used to. With no crowds allowed, we’ll have to make do by cheering our horses home from the living room.

Here is our race by race guide for day one of the Festival. 

 

1.20 pm: Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Tip – Appreciate It to win the Supreme (5/4)

The Supreme is a race that Willie Mullins has farmed in recent years and holds solid claims of recording a seventh win in the Festival’s opening race with the hot favourite Appreciate It. He is unbeaten this season over hurdles and looks to continue his unbeaten record over hurdles. He was also a narrow second in last years Champion Bumper at the Festival, so we know the track will not be an issue.

His main rival would be the Harry Fry trained Metier, who is also unbeaten over obstacles. He was an impressive 12 length winner of the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle last time out but would need to find more to beat the favourite.

Other chances would include Blue Lord and Ballyadam; however, they both finished behind Appreciate It last time out at Leopardstown and would need to reverse the form here. 

Key Stats

  • 12 out of the last 12 winners were aged 5 or 6
  • 11 out of the last 12 winners were rated 142 or higher
  • 12 out of the last 12 winners had at least 2 runs that season

 

1.55 pm: Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Tip – Shishkin to win the Arkle (8/15)

This year’s renewal of the Arkle has become Shishkin’s to lose following the news of his main rival Energumene being ruled out of the race after being reported lame. This arguably leaves the Dan Skelton trained Allmankind his toughest opponent following a novice chasing season of both Grade 1 and 2 successes at Sandown and Warwick respectively. 

Shishkin is proven at Cheltenham as he won last year’s edition of the Supreme Novices Hurdle and is bidding for his sixth consecutive win. He is undoubtedly the one to beat and bids to remain unbeaten over obstacles and obtain his first Grade 1 victory over the larger obstacles. 

Key Stats 

  • 11 out of the last 12 winners were aged 6 or 7
  • 6 out of the last 12 favourites won the race
  • 10 out of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous win in a grade 1 or 2 race

 

2.30 pm: Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3)

Tip – Happygolucky to Win the Ultima (10/3)

Now we move onto the first handicap race of the Festival and a race for the punters to get stuck into. Happygolucky catches the eye for Kim Bailey. He looks as if he’s the graded horse looming in a handicap, having won two out of his three starts this season. 

Happygolucky has won at Stratford and Cheltenham this season and has achieved a handicap rating of 147, which looks lenient. 

He’s been shortened into 10/3 favourite after the announcement that Lieutenant Rocco would not run, and it looks as if he could have more improvement up his sleeve.

Key Stats

  • 10 out of the last 12 winners were aged 7-9
  • 7 out of the last 12 winners were in the top 3 in the betting
  • 9 out of the last 12 winners weighed between 10st 6lb and 11st 8lbs

 

3:05 pm: Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)

Tip – Honeysuckle to win the Champion Hurdle (5/2)

This year’s Champion Hurdle looks to be a high-quality matchup between three top two-mile hurdlers across the UK and Ireland.

Epatante bids to retain her Champion Hurdle Crown after last years dominant success. However, she’d need to bounce back after a disappointing run last time out at Kempton.

The Gary Moore trained Goshen looks for Festival redemption after coming down at the last when well clear in last years JCB Triumph Hurdle. After a shaky start this season, he soon put the doubters to bed by winning the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle by 22 lengths. He would need to show he can perform consistently to win here.

However, Honeysuckle is the one to beat. Unbeaten from 10 starts, has proven Grade 1 and has Cheltenham Festival form. The seven-year-old ticks every box required to become a Champion Hurdle winner, and not only that but being a mare; she gets a 7lb weight allowance from the boys.

 She looks to be some punters banker of the week.

Key Stats

  • 10 out of the last 12 winners were aged 6-8
  • 7 out of 12 winners were in the top 3 of the betting 
  • 9 out of 12 winners won on their last run 

 

3:40 pm: Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 

Tip – Concertista to win the Close Brothers (5/4)

Concertista looks a class above the field in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle. She comfortably landed the 2020 Mares Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and has looked excellent on her only two starts this season. 

Her leading contender would be the Dan Skelton trained Roksana, who was recently confirmed to run in this race over the Stayers Hurdle recently. She was a beaten fourth in last years running but against a much stronger field than she would be this time. She could easily finish within the places this time around. 

The Willie Mullins trained 7-year-old looks the one to beat and is bidding to achieve her first Grade One victory. 

Key Stats

  • 9 out of the last 12 winners were aged 5 to 7
  • 11 out of the last 12 winners were in the top 3 in the betting 
  • 7 out of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous run at Cheltenham 

 

4:15 pm: Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Fred Winter) (Grade 3)

Tip – Saint Sam to win the Fred Winter (6/1)

The Fred Winter is a wide-open handicap that has been host to some big price winners over the years. Saint Sam shows appeal at a price. Although he is yet to win in three starts over obstacles for Willie Mullins, he has displayed some creditable form in Ireland. He was beaten 5 1/2 lengths to Quillixios on his last outing at Leopardstown, who is the leading contender in Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle. The stiffer 2 miles should suit Saint Sam, who looks a type to step up in trip further in time. 

Others to mention would be the Paul Nicholls trained Houx Gris, who looks to be well handicapped off 128 and the Skelton’s runner Cabot Cliffs, who won impressively last time out at Warwick.

Key Stats

  • 4 out of the last 12 winners were in the top 3 of the betting 
  • 9 out of the last 12 winners weighed between 10st 6lb and 11st 5lb 
  • 9 out of the last 12 winners were rated between 125 and 134

 

4:50 pm: Sam Vestey National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)

Tip – Galvin to win the Challenge Cup (2/1)

The final race of the day is the National Hunt Chase, a gruelling race that tends to take a lot out of the horses that run in it.

Venetia William’s confirmed her leading fancy Royale Pagaille would take her chance in the Gold Cup, leaving Galvin favourite and the one to beat in this race. Galvin has won all four of his starts this year, including at Cheltenham in October. A step up in trip looks to suit and conditions should be in his favour. 

Others to mention would be the Paul Nicholls trained Next Destination, who beat the promising Fiddlerontheroof this season but would need to prove he can stay further. Similar story for Escaria Ten, trained by Mrs Denise Foster, who has excellent form this season behind Monkfish but needs to prove he can stay the more extended trip. 

Key Stats

  • 9 out of the last 12 winners were aged between 6 and 8
  • 5 out of the last 12 winners were in the top 3 in the betting
  • 10 out of the last 12 winners had a rating of 139 or higher

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Cheltenham Festival 2021 Day One Tips.’ Who is your nap of the day for day one of the festival? Do you agree with our predictions? Let us know!

 

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Ash is a second-year Sports Journalism student studying at Solent University in Southampton. He follows a variety of sports but is extremely passionate about Horse Racing.

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