For me Cheltenham festival day 1 is one of the best days of racing in the calendar, with the renowned Cheltenham roar getting the first race underway. There’s hundreds of millions of pound bet over the four days and the prize money available to the winners second only to the Grand National.
I do personally prefer Cheltenham to the Aintree meeting . With 7 races to choose from theres always some great options for multiple bets and coveralls with some decent each way value to be found in all races. We have a separate tips page for the days races if you’re looking for the details behind the tips – Click here for our Tuesdays tips.
Cheltenham festival day 1 – Race guide
Sky Bet Supreme novices’ hurdle
The Cheltenham festival kicks off with the famous Cheltenham roar at the start of the Sky Bet supreme novices hurdle, a grade one race over 2m 1/2f. Sky bet took over from William Hill as the races sponsor in 2014 and are offering a £20 free bet as part of the festival, Click here to get £20 free with Sky bet. You only need to register and deposit £5 to get your free £20 too!
The coverage of the build up starts on Channel 4 at 12.35 with this, the first race, getting proceedings underway at 1.30. Interestingly in the last 13 years this race has only been won by the favourite four times, but this has happened the past 2 years and Min looks almost unbeatable.
Last year’s race was won by odds on hotshot Douvan who was quite happy to sit in the middle of the pack until three jumps to go. After that Douvan powered home to finish well clear of the rest. At the start of the race he was in at 2/1 favourite.
This year’s early favourite is Min. This horse has shown that he likes to command a lead early and maintain it, so very well make for a very different race to last year. He has good stamina and has a 100% win record with Mullins and Walsh in jump races. Current best odds are at 13/8. Check out min in his last run out on the 9th January at Puchestown in the video below.
The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase
The second race on Cheltenham festival day 1 is the Arkle Trophy. Unlike the Supreme hurdle the Arkle has been won by the favourite in two or the past 3 years with Sprinter Sacre followed by Simonsig giving the bookies a battering in 2012 and 2013.
In 2014 Western Warhorse came out of no where to deliver a 33/1 winner for trainer Tom Pipe beating joint favourites Champagne fever and Trifolium. Un De Sceaux was the odds on favourite at odds of 4/6 at the start of the 2015 Arkle and didn’t disappoint the faithful punters. Un De Sceaux and Ruby Walsh romped home 5 to 6 lengths clear at the finish line.
Last year’s Sky Bet Supreme Novice’s Hurdle, Douvan is clear odds on favourite here in the early stages around the 1/2 mark. After last year’s performance on top of the fact he still holds a 100% jump win record, it’s not hard to see why. See him below in his last run at Leopardstown on 24th January.
The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase
This is possibly the toughest race of the first day to pick from as its always a wide open field. Last year’s race was just as open, with 8/1 selection The Druids Nephew and Barry Geraghty ending up eventual winner with a very strong finish.
We will be looking to see the declared riders before we make a pick in this race with no clear favourite. All horses in the running are currently sitting between 16/1 and 33/1. You can check out last year’s race from the video below.
This has been a corker of a race for a few years now. This race has historically contained the big names in racing lining up and this year is no different with last year’s winner, Faugheen looking likely to go up against the likes of Arctic Fire, Nichols Canyon and The New One.
It’s Faugheen though, that is strong favourite at 1/3 early doors despite Nichols Canyon showing he has the minerals to cause an upset. Nichols Canyon pipped Faugheen to the post back in November on soft ground at Punchestown. This ended Faugheen’s unbeaten run and can be viewed in the video below. Nichols Canyon currently out at 12/1 which may seem a strong price.
However Faugheen has won his two races since, which may indicate that Punchestown was nothing but a small blip. Whereas Nichols Canyon had a third place result at the beginning of this year, as well as a third place finish in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in last year’s festival. This could indicate that the horse is in a current dip in form and has the tendency to shy away on the big platforms. With that said the range in the odds at this point may well be justified.
OLBG Mares’ hurdle
The last of the feature (and televised) races of Cheltenham festival day 1 sees Willie Mullins going for his 8th win in a row in this race with Annie Power lining up as a strong favourite. Annie Power was strong favourite last year and ran a fantastic race before suffering a horrific fall at the last. Glens Melody ended up winning the race by a nose.
Annie Power recovered well to romp home in first place in May 15 and as such is hotly fancied at this stage to be entered and to show that endless energy once again. Mullins has another well fancied option in this race as well in Vroum Vroum Mag. Odds are currently at 8/1 for this Mare looking to make her Cheltenham debut, which is ironic as she has an impressive 8 jump win record from 8 races. Check out last year’s race and that nasty Annie Power fall in the video below.
There’s two further races during Cheltenham festival day 1 with the National Hunt Chase and the CHAPS Novices Handicap Chase taking place after the TV coverage finishes.
We’ll be covering all the action and news throughout the build up as well as through the festival itself on Twitter at @bettingapps. Be sure to give us a follow for all the latest information worth knowing.