Finally, it’s here, the best week of the year. The 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
Four days of top class jumps racing with many twists and turns that only Cheltenham can bring. This is the first Festival in decades that’s starting on heavy ground.
From my own point of view, today it’s all about Buveur D’Air. I hope many of you reading this, backed Buveur D’Air at odds of 6-1 in November & December last year when I first mentioned his price. With a clear round of jumping, hopefully the Nicky Henderson trained horse can defend his Champion Hurdle title and get us off to a great start.
The Supreme Hurdle is the first race of the meeting.
Getabird is the 7-4 favourite, trained by Willie Mullins. Favourites in the Supreme have a good record. Getabird’s form is there for all to see. The horse handles heavy ground and must have a good chance. The one worry would be going left handed. If your happy taking short odds in such a race, help yourself but not for me.
We can bet 7-4 shots every day of the week in far less competitive races. A 7-4 winner pays the same at Cheltenham as it does at Plumpton. I’ve had a couple of EW bets. Paloma Blue 16-1 & Debuchet a few days ago at 50-1.
Paloma Blue pulled too hard behind Samcro when last seen, he canted into the race, but his early efforts did for him. Today’s faster pace will help. I can see Paloma Blue travelling nicely behind the pace and making a challenge coming down the hill. Debuchet is a stab in the dark. His bumper form is top class whilst his sire has a great record on heavy ground. Margaret Mullins doesn’t tilt at windmills, she has a good Cheltenham record. Debuchet might outrun his odds.
Footpad is the worthy favourite in the Arkle chase and will take the beating. Saint Calvados might be the value bet, has his going but all form comes on flatter track. I think Footpad will win, odds of 10-11 are more than fair.
I’m amazed the Ultima at 2:50 isn’t a maximum field, six further horses could have run in this race. Coo Star Sivola has been the buzz horse in many of the preview evenings, he could be unexposed over 3 miles plus and looks sure to go well. I’m not going mad in such a race, but have backed Cogry 16-1 EW & Vintage Clouds 9-1 EW.
Cogry stays every yard of this trip and has a excellent record on heavy. He's also won on his last two starts at Cheltenham. The trip at Warwick last time out was very much on the short side, he likely ran just to keep his handicap mark intact. The time before, Cogry was brought down. His 2nd in the Warwick Classic & 4l win over Singlefarmpayment is good form.
Vintage Clouds came down 2 out when holding every chance last year. His recent efforts have been excellent, arguably the horse is still improving. Vintage Clouds will keep popping away and should be bang in contention at the business end of the race. Ramses De Teillee will be seen cantering, it will be interesting to see what he finds off the bridle.
Apple’s Jade wins the Mares’ Hurdle and is one of the bankers of the week. Although she’s odds on at 8-13, I think that’s a good price.
I’m leaving the 4:50.
In the lucky last, The Close Brothers Chase. De Plotting Shed is well handicapped compared to his hurdle rating. I’ll throw a few quid on him at 15-2 EW. Any Second Now “6-1” has been running in graded races all season, this is a drop in class and handicap debut. This might be a JP McManus gamble? Those would be my two against the field.