Cheltenham Festival: Day 1

March 16, 2021

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the highlights on the British jumps calendar and always a huge fouyr-day social spectacle. Hence the name “festival”. However, due to the Covid-19 lockdown, this year it goes ahead behind closed doors. Horses from across Britain, Ireland and France take each other on in 28 races across the meeting, which runs from Tuesday to Friday. There are seven races every day.

There are five championship races across the four days. Tuesday’s feature is the Champion Hurdle, while Wednesday sees the two-mile chasers take centre-stage. There are two championship events on Thursday with the Ryanair Chase, followed by the Stayers’ Hurdle, before Friday’s action sees the meeting’s most iconic race take centre-stage – the Cheltenham Gold Cup. 

Willie Mullins is the most decorated trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival. The Irish handler has saddled 72 winners at the Cheltenham Festival and has also been crowned the meeting’s leading trainer seven times in the past 10 years. He enjoyed seven winners at last year’s meeting. His main fancies this week appear to be Appreciate It, Kilcruit, Concertista and Chacun Pour Soi.

Paul Townend has ridden 12 winners at the Cheltenham Festival and he rides favourites Al Boum Photo, Appreciate It, Concertista and Chacun Pour Soi.

Tuesday’s racing at a glance:

11.20am Novices Hurdle (3280m)

There are eight runners in this race: Appreciate It, Ballyadam, Blue Lord, For Pleasure, Grumpy Charley, Irascible, Metier, Soaring Glory.

Our selection: Metier, Soaring Glory, Appreciate It

Betting guide: 11-10 Appreciate It, 5-1 Metier, 8-1 Soaring Glory, 13-2 Ballyadam, 10-1 Blue Lord, 25-1 upwards others

11.55: Arkle Challenge (3200m)

Six runners go to the start for this race: Allmankind, Captain Guinness, Eldorado Allen, Franco De Port, Numirot, Shishkin. The favourite has won the last six years in a row in this race.

Our selection: Shishkin, Allmankind, Captain Guinness

Betting guide: 5-10 Shishkin, 5-1 Allmankind, 10-1 Captain Guinness, 14-1 upwards others

12.30: Handicap Chase (5000m)

A big field of 16 runners are carded to go over the fences for this 3m 1f jumps race.

Our selection: Alnadam, Milan Native, Aye Right

Betting guide: 7-2 Happygolucky, 11-2 Aye Right, 6-1 One For The Team, 15-2 Milan Native, 12-1 Alnadam, 14-1 Doscordantly, 16-1 Cepage, Pym, 20-1 upwards others

1.05pm: Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 3280m

Main race of the day. A field of 10 that includes the star mares Epatante and Honeysuckle. Epatante won the race last year. Honeysuckle is unbeaten and Rachael Blackmore aims to become the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle. 

Our selection: Goshen, Honeysuckle, Epatante

Betting guide: 2-1 Honeysuckle, 9-2 Goshen, Epatante, 8-1 Abracadabras, 11-1 Sharjah, 

1.40pm: Mares Hurdle (4000m)

Another Grade One race. Trainer Willie Mullins has dominated the race over the years and once again houses the hot favourite in Concertista. There are nine jumps in this 4000m race.

Our selection: Concertista, Black Tears, Roksana

Betting guide: 12-10 Concertista, 3-1 Roksana, 13-2 Dame De Compagnie, 14-1 Black Tears, 16-1 Great White Shark

2.15pm: Juvenile Handicap Hurdles (3200m)

A maximum field of 22 juveniles. Always a tough race to find the winner. French breds or French imports have won nine of the 16 runnings from approximately one-third representation so they are over-performing. There are 8 hurdles to overcome.

Our selection: Homme Public, Sage Advice, Coltor

Betting guide: 5-1 Saint Sam, Houx Gris, 9-1 Coltor, Busselton, 12-1 Rivier D’Etel, 14-1 Homme Public, 16-1 Cabor Cliffs, 20-1 Safge Advice, Youmdor, 25-1 upwards others

2.50pm: National Hunt Chase (6400m)

A field of 13 for this race. As you’d expect given the National Hunt Challenge Cup Chase’s distance of four miles (6400m), many of the field go on to compete in the Grand National.

Our selection: Lord Royal, Next Destination, Remastered

Betting guide: 26-10 Galvin, 3-1 Next Destination, 9-2 Escaria Ten, 8-1 Lord Royal, Remastered, 16-1 Snow Leopardess, 25-1 Soldier Of Love, 33-1 upwards others

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