My heart is already 10 beats a minute higher as I’m writing this and my head will be far too full of imponderables to sleep tonight. The first imponderable was whether we should be lumping on all the perceived good things on the first day – and there’s a fair chance we should be – but I’ve always preferred the value angle.
With that in mind – here’s the Cheltenham horse racing tips for Day 1.
Bookies will be praying that the Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh accas go up in smoke with the defeat of likely favourite Douvan, who is priced-up at 2/1. However, though it’s never been a great race for favourites, he only looks to have L’ami Serge to beat, with Jollyallan, Shaneshill and Seedling battling it out for third place. L’ami Serge’s level of form is already good enough to win most Supreme Novice Hurdles and he won’t be a pushover. Therefore, the reverse forecast looks the value bet to kick off the festival.
1 point Reverse Forecast Douvan & L’ami Serge
It’s hard to see anything beating Un De Sceaux if he puts in a clear round of jumping but I just can’t take odds on about a novice chaser at the Cheltenham Festival. It will be interesting to see which horses try and go with the favourite as they may well be spent forces when they get to the hill. If that’s the case this race may well be suited to a strong traveller and the one who appeals at a big price is Court Minstrel who his connections could have easily pitched into a handicap. He’s 33/1 with Un De Sceaux or 14/1 without the favourite – and I’ll take the latter each-way.
1 point each-way Court Minstrel @ 14/1 without Un De Sceaux (Skybet) ¼ odds 1-2-3
The trickiest looking race on the first day, however I like the booking of Brian Cooper for Gallant Oscar, who is trained by Tony Martin. The jockey/trainer combination has teamed up successfully before at the festival, and some of his best runs have been on good to soft ground when carrying weights similar to the 10-5 he carries here.
1 point each-way Gallant Oscar @ 12/1 (Hills) ¼ odds 1-5
Champion Hurdle 3.20pm
I might regret not backing Faugheen, as he might be one of the best we’ve seen, but he’s much too short for me. I still think The New One has every chance of taking the crown and at 4/1 each-way he looks a bet to nothing providing all 8 of the declared runners start.
1 point each-way The New One @ 4/1 (various) ¼ odds 1-2-3.
Mares Hurdle 4.00pm
This really should be Annie Power and the rest nowhere – but it’s a no bet race for me as there’s not a decent rock-solid each-way punt against her, and I can’t back her at odds-on after her absence.
National Hunt Chase 4.40pm
Very Wood will be very popular here to follow-up his win in last year’s Albert Bartlett, but he was 33/1 last year and he’s only 7/2 now. The horse I’ve had my eye on for this all year is Return Spring who has put up all his best performances at Cheltenham and usually relishes the Cheltenham Hill. Four miles on decent ground might be just what he wants to put up a career best performance – and the 25/1 will do for me.
1 point each-way Return Spring @ 25/1 (Betfred) ¼ odds 1-4
Chaps Novice Handicap Chase 5.15pm
Thomas Crapper is already in our Cheltenham Yankee – but I can’t see any reason to desert him here. He runs off exactly the same mark as when second at last year’s festival and all his best runs have been in big-fields at Cheltenham.
1 point each-way Thomas Crapper @ 7/1 (general) ¼ odds 1-4
Happy punting all!
And if you’re not backing our tips – what are you backing?
Come on – let us know below.