Cheltenham Festival – who to back on day one?

Cheltenham Festival – who to back on day one?

The international horse racing world is getting ready for the pomp and splendour of the Cheltenham Festival. Over recent years it has become the biggest multi-day event in the UK racing calendar, and arguably in the world.

Cheltenham is famous for it’s uniquely British take on horse racing, with the ladies in their dresses and hats, sipping champagne and surrounded by rain and mud. However, it is also deadly serious for both racing fanatics and keen gamblers. International TV and online audiences will run into the millions, and an estimated £500 million will change hands in wagers over the course of four days and 28 races.

Ready for the off

Each day of the festival has its own theme, and it all begins on 13 March at 13:30 local time, when Champions Day gets underway. Get your betting slips at the ready, as we look at the predictions for day one from the tipsters in the thick of the action at Some of their recommendations might come as a surprise.

Supreme Novices Hurdle

The first race on the card gives new meaning to the phrase “flying start.” The Supreme Novices Hurdle typically attracts a huge field, and is a race in which anything can happen. It is notoriously difficult to predict a winner, as the sheer number of horses can prove to b a distraction for the top runners.

The fact that last year’s winner was Labaik, a 25/1 outsider with a reputation for erratic behaviour says it all, but our tipsters have tried to thread out a top prospect for this year’s race. They suggest looking beyond the bookmakers’ favourite Getabird, and are tipping Nicky Henderson’s If The Cap Fits as a great each-way option. The horse is a proven placer, and most important of all, is familiar with the Cheltenham buzz.

Arkle Challenge

Fifty years after his untimely death, Arkle is still the horse most associated with Cheltenham, and the race named in his honour is the second of the day. Here, there will be fewer runners and far less chaos. This is an easier one for the tipsters, too. Footpad, trained by Willie Mullins, has been favourite from the word go, and an easy victory in Dublin last week suggests you need look no further.

Champions Hurdle

So what of the main event? The showcase race is the Champions Hurdle, and it is another in which veteran trainer Nicky Henderson is expected to produce a winner. Last year, his six year old gelding Buveur D’Air romped home at 5/1 and this year, he is odds on to do it again. For this race, the tipsters are again recommending a look a little further down the race card.

Last year, Buveur D’Air beat a stablemate from the Henderson stable into second place, and there is every chance of history repeating itself. My Tent or Yours is making a habit of placing, having had three second places in four years. At 12/1, an each way bet makes a lot of sense.