Day 1 Cheltenham Preview -Tuesday

 Tuesday 12th March – Day 1 Cheltenham

It’s not easy to find winners at Chetenham but the best way to try find them is a mixture of trends, form & quotes analysis to narrow it down to a select few. Then just go with your gut of who you think has the best chance in the race. Below are the main trends and quotes for the horses we think are in with a good chance of winning on Day 1 of the festival. Our top 3 tips for Day 1 are:

  • 1.30 Un Atout @ 7/1
  • 2.05 Arvika Ligieonnire @ 7/1
  • 3.20 Gradouet @ 8/1

Enjoy all the racing & good luck! 

13:30, William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1)

14 of the last 16 winners won last time out
12 of the last 13 winners ran in the previous 52 days
34 of the last 38 winners were aged five or six
The Irish have won 7 of the last 12 renewals
Only 3 favourites won in the last 21 renewal
4 of the 5 previous years' Champion Bumper winners have been beaten

Main Contenders Comments

Champagne Fever
"He doesn't have to lead but he has loads of stamina. At the moment we have said the Supreme Novices', but he's so stoutly bred we could go any trip. You could ride him a lot differently in the three-mile race. It's a huge difference in trip, but he gallops, he loves the track and he's all stamina in his pedigree. If he did go a longer trip we wouldn't make as much use of him.“I debated it with the owner about the Albert Bartlett but he is keen to go for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and that is likely where he will go. I was happy with his work on Tuesday and he will be returning after winning last year’s Champion Bumper at the Festival.” Willie Mullins

Un Atout
"He jumped well and he was very strong in the ground. He stayed, but he has plenty of gears too. I'm very happy with everything he did today. He'll be entered up in all the races. I have no wish to step him up in trip just yet. We still don’t really know how good he is and is a chaser in the making but is unbeaten so far and is a horse to look forward to.” He is from an excellent family, closely related to Sir Des Champs. He certainly hasn’t let the family name down having won all three starts under Rules. This winter he has run twice over hurdles winning his maiden at Navan and following up even more impressively at Naas in January. We deliberately kept him back for Cheltenham with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle his target. Although he has never run around Prestbury Park I don’t think the course will hold any fears as Sir Des Champs loves the place. He has a nice bit of ability and would be one of my more exciting novices next week. Willie Mullins

Un Atout. He's extremely good but he's a chaser in the making. Extremely disappointed if he doesn't make the first four. Davy Russell 
Un Atout might lack a gear in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Sweetest on Champagne Fever here from the Mullins team. 
Patrick Mullins 
"Un Atout has done nothing wrong but I've never sat on him. David Casey rides him in all of his work. Champagne Fever seems to be back to his best on homework. "It does look a match between My Tent Or Yours and Jezki and if you were to ask me to bet, I’d say Jezki."Dodging Bullets has done nothing wrong this year. He has won twice at Cheltenham and is a good price if the rain doesn’t arrive." Ruby Walsh

Dodging Bullets
"He is very much the forgotten horse of the Supreme, but go and take a look at his run in the Christmas Hurdle and you realise that he shouldn't be. He was fourth in the Triumph Hurdle at The Festival last year. He won his first two starts this season at Cheltenham. He gave 7lb and beat River Maigue on the second of them. We were then a little bit ambitious to run him in the Christmas Hurdle. I wanted to give him a run over Christmas and have him really fresh for The Festival. He came third to Darlan and finished ahead of Countrywide Flame who was fourth. That is not bad form. I think he has a mark of 157 and he would compare favourably with Al Ferof and Noland who won the Supreme for us. He goes well fresh and has not really had his ground which is not worse than good to soft. He is really well. He wants a fast-run race so he can come from behind. I think he has a great chance and is a big price for the Supreme – we have trained him just for that race and everything is going to plan. It looks a hot race this year but always does.” Paul Nicholls

"To say we are all delighted with Jezki's performance in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle would be an understatement - I was absolutely thrilled. He won more impressively than he did in Fairyhouse and he never even came off the bridle. Probably the slightly better ground helped him and he just loves going left-handed, he's definitely better left-handed. They went a right good gallop, which was brilliant. The better the ground, the better for him. Robbie [Power] was also delighted and believed that that's the best ground he's had all year and that's the best performance he's put up all year. Cheltenham is the plan and we need to get him there in one piece. His future definitely looks bright." Jessica Harrington

My Tent Or Yours
He has got a lot of natural and raw talent, he just needs to learn how to use it. I worried a bit after his run on heavy ground at Newbury the other day but it's good to get him back on track. He still needs to relax a bit more, but he'll learn. He is a bull of a horse and needs lots of work – you daren’t leave him for long. I know A P [McCoy] loves him." The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the right race for him and he certainly didn’t have a hard race wining the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. A P thinks the world of him and reckons that although he’s been winning on softer ground we’d always though he be better on good going but we won’t get that on the first day.” Nicky Henderson

River Maigue
Deserves his chance in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and you can forget his last run at Ascot which was a farce as far as the early pace was concerned and was a sprint. Still progressive.” Nicky Henderson
I’ve been getting rave reviews about how this lad has been performing and his well-being since his last run at Ascot when he was second. I’d be very hopeful of a top-class run but, as I said earlier, this is the best renewal of the Supreme in my time. Barry Geraghty

Verdict: Un Atout 7/1 (e/w)

14:05, Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Grade 1)

24 of the last 26 winners finished in the top two last time out
12 of the last 13 winners were rated 142+ over hurdles
5 of the last 12 winners were the highest-rated hurdler in the field
The last 22 winners have started at 11/1 or shorter, but only 4 favourites won
Five year olds have won 4 of the last 13, but since 2008 there is no 5lb weight allowance
The Irish have won 3 of the last 15 renewals
French breds have won 8 of the last 18 renewals
German breds have 1 win and 3 places from 11 runners since 2002

Main Contenders Comments

Simonsig   - "He was good. We know that he will be an awful lot better when going a shade quicker, but Barry (Geraghty) did let him go and jump them. This was as good a novice hurdler as I've seen in a long time and we seriously thought about him being a Champion Hurdle horse, but we decided to send him chasing." Nicky Henderson

Overturn  - "He's grand this morning and we were delighted with how he did it yesterday. It's out of the way, which is a relief, so we can sit tight and concentrate on where we're going with him now. I find it a bit odd that people are saying he might not get his own way out in front (in the Arkle). He's done it in Northumberland Plates, Chester Cups and for a long way in a Champion Hurdle last year, so we'll see. He might not be good enough, we'll find out, but we know what Overturn is going to produce and we're quite happy with where we are." Donald McCain

Arvika Ligeonniere - "I'll ride Arvika Ligeonniere. It's hard to say that he is even an each-way price given the small field. I just love Simonsig and I think Overturn will just set the race up for him. "It’ll be a catch me if you can type of race and to me Simonsig is possibly the only horse in training that would give Sprinter Sacre a race." Ruby Walsh 

He is a seriously smart horse and although a fall isn’t the ideal preparation for a big meeting like Cheltenham he is in very good form and I am looking forward to seeing him run in the Arkle against Simonsig and Overturn. He has run well at Cheltenham before when fourth in the 2010 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, so we know the course will hold no terrors for him. Willie Mullins

Baily Green
“He has to find a few lengths on Arvika Ligeonniere of Willie Mullins’ but he is entitled to take his chance. I would like to see the ground coming up good or good to soft for him, that ground would suit him better than his last couple of runs. I’m hoping he should be there or thereabouts.” Mouse Morris

Verdict: ARVIKA LIGEONNIERE 7/1 (e/w)

15:20, Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)


24 of the last 29 winners won last time out
21 of the last 23 winners won a race previously that season
18 of the last 22 winners started in the first five of the betting
17 of the last 24 winners had winning form at Cheltenham
17 of the last 21 winners had previously been placed at the festival
All 73 five year olds since 1985 were beaten, until 2008. Since then 5 of 15 placed were 5yo’s
Only 3 winners older than eight since 1951
The Irish have won 8 of the last 14 renewals
No horse has won the Supreme Novices' the year before and gone on to win the Champion since 1971
Main Contenders Comments

Hurricane Fly  - “We think he's in good form. He's a lot more settled this year. He settled a bit last year and probably caught us a bit unawares, I think it's just with age that he's settling. He was a lot easier to lead around the parade ring beforehand, and certainly in the race. Ruby said he was very settled, which will improve his performance because he was too keen before. The Champion Hurdle looks very open, and if we can get there in the same form it's all to play for. I respect the English hurdlers but if we can get our horse to Cheltenham in the same sort of form he's in now I'll be happy."

"Ruby said he was as good as he ever felt him. He is in fantastic form. He just wasn't right last season and we could never put our finger on it. It's hard to see a nine-year-old improving, but if I can keep him in that form for the next six or seven weeks, I'd be happy with that going to Cheltenham. The conditions here are terrible, but when Ruby gave him a squeeze coming off the home bend, he took off as though he had just joined in." Willie Mullins

Grandouet  - "He is clean-winded and does not need as much work so he won’t be going to Kempton on Saturday (to work after racing). He ran very well in The International and does not need to find an awful lot on that form." Hasn’t had a great prep and everything has gone against him really but he worked alright on the Monday we were frosted off at Newbury. He comes out of the International Hurdle at Cheltenham as the best horse in the race with Zarkandar and Rock On Ruby but his build-up for the Champion Hurdle has been messy. Nicky Henderson

I’m expecting a top-class performance from GRANDOUET. He handled testing ground very well when we were second to Zarkandar in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December. We were beaten a couple of lengths but were trying to give the winner 4lb which isn’t the case now. Although I haven’t ridden him at home recently I have seen him work and school and couldn’t have been any happier with the way he’s performed. I’m expecting to be right in the action at the last and I have no doubt that he’ll fight his way up the hill. - Barry Geraghty

Zarkandar  - “He has been totally different to how he was a year ago. He had just won the Betfair Hurdle and was coughing. He wasn’t quite right and we really struggled with him. He had a tiny little scar fracture of a hind leg in the autumn so we could not run him then. We rushed him for the Betfair Hurdle which he won. Then he started coughing and was nowhere near himself when he ran in the Champion Hurdle last year when he finished fifth after running a bit flat. Then he fell at Aintree. Otherwise he has won every race he has run in. He was three from three as a juvenile and has won all three this season. He keeps on winning and is the right age now, six. He has done nothing wrong this season. He have 17lb and beat Prospect Wells first time, then went to The International and won, galloping up the hill at Cheltenham. He idled on Saturday but won nicely. He is never going to flashy – he could have done on Saturday with a quicker pace. He jumps nicely and loves the Cheltenham hill. I think there is not a lot between Hurricane Fly, Rock On Ruby, this lad and possibly Grandouet. He prefers the New Course at Cheltenham but the Champion Hurdle is over almost a furlong less on the Old Course which is sharper. I would like to see the ground on the slow side and a fast-run race. He has got a great chance. Ruby (Walsh) was always going to have to ride Hurricane Fly this season and Daryl (Jacob) has won plenty of races on him. Daryl was always going to ride him but it makes no difference who rides him. Zarkandar is a good form and we are very happy with him.” Paul Nicholls 

Rock On Ruby  - "He is all set for a prep run at either Sandown on February 2 (Contenders Hurdle) or at Wincanton on February 16 (Kingwell Hurdle), weather permitting, as I'm not sure what the winter is going to bring next. He is not going to run on heavy ground between now and Cheltenham. If the ground is decent, he will have a prep run but if not, he will have a racecourse gallop instead. He is in great form at the moment and his run in the International has brought him on a ton - I am very pleased with him.
Noel (Fehily) felt he was on the winner the whole way at Cheltenham. He travelled like the best horse in the race but the lack of a recent run at that level in those conditions counted against him turning in and over the last. I think he will have had to have improved since last year's Champion Hurdle to win this year's race but he has improved and is much bigger and stronger. My assistant Ciara O'Connor, who rides Rock On Ruby everyday, has been saying that all season and Noel felt exactly the same after the run in December." Harry Fry

Verdict: GRANDOUET 8/1 (e/w)

Best of luck!

Check back tomorrow for our Day 2 Cheltenham Preview