Cheltenham Day 1 – Tuesday

In this post, we will identify the top contenders that pose the greatest threat to the favourites in the Day 1 races at the Cheltenham Festival. By analysing various factors such as form, distance, and more, we aim to find reasons why the favourites may not be as strong as their odds suggest and could potentially be beaten by another horse. Our goal is to uncover potential upsets and let’s hope we have a few here!

Supreme Novices Hurdle

Marine Nationale won the Royal Bond Grade 1 Hurdle at Fairyhouse and the second and fourth place finishers in that race have since performed well in the Lawlor’s of Naas Grade 1 Hurdle. Marine Nationale had some difficulty during the Royal Bond race, including not getting a clear run and making a mistake at the last hurdle, which arguably meant he didn’t win as comfortably as he should have. I do believe he is the biggest danger to Facile Vega.

Current Favourite: Facile Vega @ 5/6

Marine Nationale @ 5/1

Marine Nationale

Arkle Chase

Jonbon is the favorite for the race, but I believe that Appreciate It, trained by Willie Mullins, is the better pick. Appreciate It won the Supreme Novice Hurdle by a wide margin, but took a long break before returning in the Champion Hurdle. Despite being the second favorite at 10/3, he was unable to maintain his lead and finished poorly due to the demanding nature of the race after such a long layoff. However, since then he has won two beginner chases at Punchestown and Naas, both of which were previously won by top horses trained by Mullins. This, along with Mullins’ tendency to enter his best horses in the same novice and beginner chases, leads me to believe that Appreciate It is his top pick for the race.

Current Favourite: Jonbon @ 6/4

Appreciate It @ 11/2

Appreciate It

Ultima Handicap Chase

Thunder Rock impressed me when he finished a close third behind The Real Whacker at Cheltenham. He ran well and seemed to have more to give, leading me to believe that he would benefit from a longer race. The Real Whacker and Monmiral are both highly-rated horses, and for Thunder Rock to finish so close to them was a strong showing. Given this, I think Thunder Rock will do well in a handicap race with a longer distance. It’s also worth noting that the McNeill family, who sponsor the race, own Thunder Rock.

Current Favourite: Remastered @ 10/1

Thunder Rock @ 20/1

Thunder Rock

Champion Hurdle

It’s difficult to consider any other horse besides CH for this race. If I had to choose another option, I would consider Zanahiyr. Although he has not raced at 2 miles since finishing third in this race last year as a 5-year-old, he has shown promise in the past. Since then, he has had mixed results in longer races at Aintree, Navan, and elsewhere, which suggests that he may perform better at a shorter distance. It seems likely that his trainers will choose to drop him back down to 2 miles for this race.

Current Favourite: Constitution Hill @ 4/11

Zanahiyr @ 50/1


Mares Hurdle

I believe that Brandy Love is a better pick than Marie’s Rock for this race. While Marie’s Rock’s form may not be as strong, Brandy Love has proven herself in higher level races. She won a maiden hurdle at Naas before finishing a close second in a Grade 3 race against Allegorie De Vassy. She then went on to win the Grade 1 Mares Novice at Fairyhouse, beating Love Envoi by a wide margin. This victory, in my opinion, was more impressive than Marie’s Rock’s form, making Brandy Love a more attractive choice.

Current Favourite: Maries Rock @ 11/4

Brandy Love @ 5/1

Brandy Love

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Dixon Cove performed well in the Juvenile Finale at Chepstow, finishing a close second to Comfort Zone. Despite this strong showing, the handicapper actually lowered Dixon Cove’s rating by 5lb. He’s already qualified for this race and with his experience in France, where he had three runs in hurdle races, suggests that he has the form and experience to do well in future races. I believe Dixon Cove has the potential to be a strong contender.

Current Favourite: Tekao @ 8/1

Dixon Cove @ 16/1

Dixon Cove

National Hunt Challenge Chase

Ballygrifincottage may qualify for this race through the 2m7f110y Novice Chase at Lingfield, which has a large prize fund of £50,000. Ballygrifincottage has shown promise in the past, winning a race over 2m7f on heavy ground and finishing fourth in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. Despite starting near the back of the pack, Ballygrifincottage made a strong effort in the latter race and was still making progress at the second-to-last hurdle before eventually finishing fourth. It is unlikely that Ballygrifincottage will run in the Turners Novice Chase and he may perform better in a longer race such as this one or the 3m Brown Advisory Novices Chase but I have a feeling it could be this one.

Current Favourite: Gaillard Du Mesnil

Ballygrifincottage @ 14/1

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