Al Dancer and Apple’s Jade to kick things off?
Richard Marsh | 12 March 2019
Champion Day tips and odds
It’s here. It’s finally here. The 2019 Cheltenham Festival has arrived and we’re all set for 28 epic races over four fascinating days.
As is tradition, it all begins with Champion Day. We’ve got a thrilling Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and a riveting battle between Apple’s Jade and Buveur D’Air to enjoy in the Champion Hurdle too.
It should be a belting start to the Festival…
1:30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Al Dancer
Having held favouritism for weeks, Al Dancer has come under huge pressure from Angels Breath and Klassical Dream in the run-up to the Festival opener.
Klassical Dream has Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins going for him, while Angels Breath has proven massively popular with punters as the Festival approaches.
Fakir D’oudaries and Elixir De Nutz can’t be ruled out either, but Al Dancer has been simply imperious of late. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ raider was superb en route to victory in the Betfair Hurdle at Ascot last month.
That was the six-year-old’s fourth win on the spin, and all have come with Sam Twiston-Davies onboard. Another repeat performance would surely prove too much for the competition.
3.30 Champion Hurdle – Apple’s Jade
Buveur D’Air or Apples’ Jade? Nobody seems quite sure who wins this fascinating duel in the Champion Hurdle. Laurina is right in the hunt too.
All three have done the business over course and distance. All three have the pedigree.
We’re siding with Gordon Elliott’s charger to come out on top. The seven-year-old has enjoyed an excellent season with four wins on the spin, over 2m, 3m and everything in between by a combined 73l.
Granted, she was in similar form 12 months ago, before being beaten into third when favourite in the Mares’ Hurdle. But perhaps that simply lends more weight to her sensational return to form this season.
Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air produced a solid win at Sandown last month, but suffered a surprise loss in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
That’s raised question marks, while the other deciding factor here could be the weight, with Henderson’s runner giving away 7lbs on Elliot’s entrant.
4.10 OLGB Mares’ Hurdle – Jester Jet (Each-way)
With Benie Des Dieux odds-on to land the Mare’s Hurdle, we’re sticking our necks out for an each-way chance with Jester Jet.
Tom Lacey’s raider won over 2m 3f at Haydock last month, and that came after four second places to start the season.
It’s worth noting though, that each of those runs has come on Good to Soft, and with rain on the way, that might just power Jester Jet to a place finish.
Tom Scudamore was on board the nine-year-old for the win at Haydock, but Robert Dunne is back in the saddle for this one, with the pair boasting a tidy return of 14 top three finishes from 16 rides.
Cheltenham Racing Tips
1:30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Al Dancer
2:10 Racing Post Arkle – Lalor
2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase – Mister Whitaker
3:30 Champion Hurdle – Apple’s Jade
4:10 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle – Jester Jet E/W
4.50 Close Brothers’ Novices’ Handicap – Cubomania E/W
5:30 National Hunt Challenge Cup – OK Corral
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