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Cheltenham Festival - Tuesday

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Cheltenham Festival - Tuesday Empty Cheltenham Festival - Tuesday

Post by sportform on Tue 11 Mar 2014, 1:03 am

It is that time of year again where the best national hunt horses travel to Gloucestershire for the  
Cheltenham Festival. This is the place to discuss all things Cheltenham for day one.

GOING: GOOD TO SOFT (Good in places; GoingStick 6.9). (Mostly cloudy)

1.30 SKY BET SUPREME NOVICES´ HURDLE GRADE 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)
Winner £68,340 Runners: 18Going: Good To Soft Distance: 2m110y CH4

18 runners go to post for the Festival opener and to meet the famous 'Cheltenham roar'. Horses from the Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins yards lead the market in the guise of IRVING and Vautour. Irving, a decent horse on the flat in Germany, is four out of four over hurdles since moving to Ditcheat including two Grade 2 events latest. Vautour is an ex-French horse and is unbeaten in three starts for Mullins. Ruby Walsh rides but many think stable companion Wicklow Brave could be the better horse. Wicklow Brave is unbeaten in his last five runs and has comparable form with Vautour through Western Boy. AP McCoy rides the fast improving Gilgamboa who won a major Irish handicap in January. Splash of Ginge won the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February but has 6l to find with Irving. Wilde Blue Yonder who won on his debut has fallen at the last hurdle twice latest when leading and could run well.

2.05 RACING POST ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY CHASE GRADE 1 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)
Winner £85,425Runners: 9Going: Good To Soft Distance: 2m CH4

This year's race features a small but select field with half a dozen of very nice types. Champagne Fever leads the challenge for Ireland. Has won at the last two Festivals for Willie Mullins but disappointed last time on his second run over fences when soundly beaten by Defy Logic. Another top class hurdler making the switch to fences this season is Rock On Ruby. The Harry Fry charge has won his two chase runs but has only faced three rivals in those two races so he is coming to the Festival unexposed. Trifolium for Charles Byrnes has been a consistent type this season in four runs. He won a Grade 1 event at Leopardstown last time out and was ahead of Champagne Fever (behind Defy Logic) on Boxing Day. DODGING BULLETS probably brings the best form to the race winning his three novices races over fences, including Wayward Lad Novices Chase at Kempton over Christmas, before being narrowly defeated in the open Game Spirit Chase to the more experienced Module. The Nicholls-trained horse disappointed at the top level over hurdles this time last year and you would have to believe he is a better chaser than hurdler to win this.

2.40 BAYLIS & HARDING AFFORDABLE LUXURY HANDICAP CHASE GRADE 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)
Winner £51,255Runners: 24Going: Good To Soft Distance: 3m110y CH4

HOLYWELL has looked a decent chaser this season and goes in this rather than the RSA Chase on Wednesday. He has some very good form including beating multiple winner Victor Hewgo at Doncaster last time out. He won at the Festival last year and could be hard to beat here. AP McCoy rides Holywell's stable mate Alfie Sherrin, who won this race in 2012. The Package has been seen out for David Pipe since pulling up at the Festival last year but has finished second and fourth in this race previous to that. Time For Rupert was fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup back in 2012 and found some of that form again last time out at Doncaster with the aid of cheekpieces. He could go well under a nice weight and at a nice price.

3.20 STAN JAMES CHAMPION HURDLE CHALLENGE TROPHY GRADE 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)
Winner £238,051Runners: 9Going: Good To Soft Distance: 2m110y CH4

The big race of the day sees HURRICANE FLY go for his third Champion Hurdle title after winning the event in 2011 and 2013. He stretched his winning run to 10 races when beating rivals Our Conor and Jezki in the Irish Champion Hurdle last time out. Our Conor won the Triumph Hurdle last year by 15l and comes from the Dessie Hughes yard. The yard has previously sent out Hardy Eustace to twice win this race so knows how to ready a horse for this race. My Tent Or Yours leads the English challenge for Nicky Henderson and AP McCoy. He battled well the win the Christmas Hurdle from The New One at Kempton over Christmas and won a warm up race on the AW again at Kempton last month. Was narrowly headed by Champagne Fever in the Supreme Novices Hurdle last year. Melodic Rendezvous has won three of his four starts for Jeremy Scott beating Zarkandar at Wincanton in February. He has course form at Cheltenham but has a bit to find with My Tent Or Yours.

4.00 OLBG MARES´ HURDLE (REGISTERED AS THE DAVID NICHOLSON MARES´ HURDLE RACE) GRADE 2 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)
Winner £47,830Runners: 16Going: Good To Soft Distance: 2m4f CH4

This race could see history in the making with the Willie Mullins-trained QUEVEGA going for her sixth win in the race. She has been seen out since last April when winning at Punchestown but has won this for the last four seasons on making her seasonal debut. Cockney Sparrow fell last time out in a race featuring Annie Power and had previously finished a 3l second to My Tent Or Yours. Last year's runner up Sirene D'Ainay ran well in France last time out and should be respected. Highland Retreat for Harry Fry won a Grade 2 mare’s event at Ascot back in February and could be the main danger at a nice price.

4.40 TERRY BIDDLECOMBE NATIONAL HUNT CHASE AMATEUR RIDERS´ NOVICES´ CHASE (LISTED RACE) (CLASS 1) (5yo+ --) Winner £50,966 Runners: 15Going: Good To Soft Distance: 4m RUK
SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR is the favourite in this having shown good form this year. He disappointed when favourite last time but was a close second at Cheltenham before that and won at Aintree last October. Herdsman is a very good staying type for Sue Smith and will relish the softer ground. Merlin's Wish has won over 4m this season and could be one to look at around 25/1.

5.15 REWARDS4RACING NOVICES´ HANDICAP CHASE (LISTED RACE) (CLASS 1) (5yo+ 0-140)
Winner £34,170Runners: 20Going: Good To Soft Distance: 2m4f110y RUK

Ericht won a nice race for Nicky Henderson at Musselburgh last time out and is in good form going into this. MANYRIVERSTOCROSS for Alan King will find this race much easier than the Grade 1 novice events it has been running in latest. Finished third to Ted Veale at the Festival last season and has to be respected. Buywise is an unexposed improver for Evan Williams having won his last three races very well at Ludlow, twice, and Taunton. Close House is another unexposed horse in good form and is a likely type from the David Pipe stables.
sportform
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Cheltenham Festival - Tuesday Empty Re: Cheltenham Festival - Tuesday

Post by sportform on Tue 11 Mar 2014, 8:20 pm

Vautour was an impressive winner of the Supreme Novices Hurdle. Leading for most of the way under Ruby Walsh, he powered up the hill to win in a course record time. Vautour, who was the highest rated horse in the race, became the first favourite to win the opener since Brave Inca back in 2004.

Western Warhorse caused a shock in the Arkle when coming from seemingly nowhere to battle past the classy Champagne Fever in the final few yards. The form of the winner was then franked in the next race by Holywell who like the Arkle winner had previously beat Victor Hewgo this season. Champagne Fever was ridden from the front by Ruby Walsh and gave a much better round of jumping as he look all over the winner coming around the hill. His trainer, Willie Mullins, has stated he will possibly step up in trip next year and could become a Gold Cup horse.

Victor Hewgo is not running at the Cheltenham Festival but will probably run in one of the novice chase events at Aintree and would be worth keeping and eye out for.

The JP McManus pair of Jezki and My Tent Or Yours lead the way home in the Champion Hurdle with the former just getting in front for Barry Geraghty and Jessica Harrington. The New One, who was hampered near the start of the race, stormed home in the straight and was possibly an unlucky loser. He was a definite eye-catcher and maybe is another horse to look out for at Aintree.
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