The 2016 Cheltenham Festival gets under way on Tuesday with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 1.30.
Coral offer 50-1 Douvan at Cheltenham*
Min is the favourite to give Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh a flying start to the meeting. His price has eased out to 9-4 in the last few days and he faces a strong field. Nicky Henderson saddles both Altior and Buveur D’Air with the latter being our selection. He has won his first two races over hurdles impressively and there were some useful novices left trailing in his wake at Newbury.
The Arkle Challenge Trophy at 2.10 looks set to go the way of Douvan. He has been odds-on favourite for this race for a long time and nothing has emerged to offer a serious challenge. New Coral customers can take advantage of the fantastic 50-1 about Douvan for a limited time only but stakes are restricted to £1 per customer.
Vaniteux should go well for Henderson but the good ground gives The Game Charger an each-way chance. We tipped Gordon Elliott’s runner at 20-1 last week and 14-1 is now the best price available.
The first handicap of the Cheltenham festival is the Ultima Handicap Chase at 2.50. This looks wide open but Kruzhlinin and Theatre Guide are entitled to be in the shake-up after impressive recent victories.
The feature race on day 1 is the Champion Hurdle at 3.30. Mullins again saddles the favourite here in Annie Power, supplemented for the race following the late withdrawal of reigning champion Faugheen. Her chance is not as obvious as Faugheen’s with most of her best form coming over longer distances.
We are siding with her stable companion Nichols Canyon who is the only horse to beat Faugheen. He inflicted a shock defeat on the Champion at Punchestown in November. He could not repeat that effort in the Irish Champion Hurdle in January but was held up that day.
Nichols Canyon is much better when up with the pace from the outset. Nicky Henderson saddles five runners and Top Notch could be the pick of them. He has shown consistent form this season and can turn the tables on Triumph Hurdle winner Peace And Co.
The Govaness looks good value in Cheltenham Mares Hurdle
The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at 4.10 features yet another Mullins-trained favourite in Vroum Vroum Mag. She looks very short at around even money and we prefer to search for each-way value in the race. The Govaness and Lily Waugh can be backed at 20-1 and 28-1 respectively and should give us a run for our money.
Our two selections in the National Hunt Chase at 4.50 are Measureofmydreams and Southfield Royale. The going has dried up slightly in the past couple of days so both have every chance of seeing out the marathon four-mile trip.
The Close Brothers Novices’ handicap chase at 5.30 can go to Aloomomo. He shares top weight of 11st 10lb but only 4lbs covers the entire field.
Cheltenham Day 1 Betting Tips
1.30 Buveur D’Air (each-way) @7-1 SkyBet
2.10 Douvan @50-1 Coral*
2.10 The Game Changer (each-way) @20-1 Boylesports
2.50 Kruzhlinin (each-way) @10-1 Paddy Power
2.50 Theatre Guide (each-way) @14-1 Paddy Power
3.30 Nichols Canyon (each-way)@6-1 Boylesports
3.30 Top Notch (each-way) @20-1 BetBright
4.10 The Govaness (NAP) (each-way) @20-1 Betfair
4.10 Lily Waugh (each-way) @28-1 Betfair
4.50 Southfield Royale (each-way) @8-1 32Red
4.50 Measureofmydreams (nb) (each-way) @16-1 32Red
5.30 Aloomomo (each-way) @10-1 BetBright
*Special price available to new customers only, maximum stake £1.