Well, it’s here at last, the opening day of the fabulous four-day Cheltenham Festival. There are seven superb races and a myriad of possibilities in each event. The advance going is ‘Good to Soft, Good in Places’ and ‘Good, Good to Firm in places’ on the Cross Country course. The first race gets underway at 200.
Race 1 (Cheltenham 130) – Cue Card and Al Ferof (first and second in last year’s Festival Bumper) are our opening race selections. Cue Card is rated way ahead of his rivals, but there is no such thing as a certainty (especially at Cheltenham) so we also include Al Ferof who is very much on the upgrade.
Race 2 (Cheltenham 205) – Realt Dubh has a big chance to get the Irish on the score sheet and has a touch of class. Also selected in a fascinating Arkle Chase is Ghizao, who on collateral lines could be best of the home team.
Race 3 (Cheltenham 240) – Great Endeavour and Sunnyhillboy are old rivals at Cheltenham but both have strong claims in a terrific handicap. We also find a place for last year’s winner Chief Dan George, who looked on the way back at Kelso last time out.
Race 4 (Cheltenham 320) – Only 11 runners for this year’s Champion Hurdle but a high-class renewal nonetheless. All things considered, we take Menorah as a banker. Philip Hobbs’ star is getting better with every run, loves the course, goes on the ground, and is a proven big race performer.
Race 5 (Cheltenham 400) – Course specialist and top weight Garde Champetre is selected for this unique cross country race, and we also include Maljimar, who is well handicapped on the best of his form and stays well.
Race 6 (Cheltenham 440) – It’s very hard to look beyond Willie Mullins’ Quevega as the great Irish mare goes for her third successive win in the race. She is reported in great form and is not one to oppose.
Suggested Cheltenham Placepot/Jackpot perm – 2x2x3x1x2x1 = 24 bets