Cheltenham Festival 2017: Day One

Mar 14, 2017

Hands up those of you already wallowing in a pile of failed antepost bets, confined to the realms of the recycling bin before a hoof has even trod on the hallowed turf of the Greatest Show on Earth? I feel for you. High-profile absentees in the guise of Thistlecrack, Coneygree, Don Cossack, Finian’s Oscar and Movewiththetimes came thick and fast in the build up to the festival having fallen foul to misfortune of injury, decimating doubles, trebles and accumulators that punters up and down the country had pinned hopes and dreams too. The superstar Vautour who so sadly died in a freak incident in Autumn last year will be a sorely missed sight after his electrifying displays around Prestbury Park in recent years and sort of epitomises the turbulent season that master trainer Willie Mullins has endured up to now. He usually has his string cherry ripe for Cheltenham but I’ll be going against those that he’s sending out to line up in Supreme Novices tomorrow (1:30).

The Supreme, as ever, looks fiendishly difficult but the one I’m going with is Ballyandy. He might lack some of the potential superstar glitz of the likes of Melon, Bunk Off Early and Crack Mome (all Mullins runners), but he is absolutely battle hardened and will definitely handle the frantic conditions of the festival’s blisteringly fast curtain raiser. Becoming more and more adept with his jumping, he seems to be improving all the time, won’t mind the hustle and bustle as the race unfolds, and all importantly has a penchant for racing around Cheltenham’s undulations and storming up the famous hill (his record around here is 113). Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies rates Ballyandy as his best chance of a winner this week and I reckon he’ll be able to take advantage of any chinks in the armour of those less experienced horses racing around him.

The only other pick that I’m putting up for today is that of Moon Racer in the Champion Hurdle (3:30). Officially rated well below many of the more experienced opposition he faces, trainer David Pipe rerouted his stable star from the Supreme Novices at the urgings of Moon Racer’s owners who are keen to have a stab at the bigger prize without having to contest the likes of Faugheen and Annie Power who are out with injury. It could be a very shrewd move as the undeniable talent of Moon Racer is there for all to see. He looks to have a liking for Cheltenham having won the Supreme Trial there in November last year, has a devastating turn of foot, and I can’t help but think that those connected to Moon Racer really rate his chances given that he would’ve been vying for favouritism in the Supreme Novices. Pipe has said that he would’ve liked to have got another run into him before this race but I wouldn’t worry too much about the layoff, he clearly goes well fresh and has been fully tuned and ready to roll whenever turned out so I’m positive Moon Racer will be bringing his A-Game. I can’t leave him at the price given the intriguing angle that he brings to the race and I’m hopeful that he will go close if he displays his untapped potential.

There you go. Keeping it nice and simple for once. Best of British and enjoy your winnings… X


Recommended bets:

1:30 – Back Ballyandy at 7/2 with William Hill
3.30 – Back Moon Racer at 12/1 with Coral

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