Cheltenham Preview: Day One

By Jamie Balding

The 13:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle has joint favourites Al Dancer and Angels Breath at the top of the betting at 4-1, however, a fancy has to go to Klassical Dream, after being declared recently for this race, Willie Mullins’ horse has more than halved in price, and goes into the race being second favourite.

Glen Forsa and Lalor are seemingly in a two horse race for the 2:10 Arkle Challenge Trophy, with Richard Channon’s horse seemingly in better form coming into the meeting. Glen Forsa beat Kalashnikov last time out comprehensively, however, Lalor has come into the meeting after not racing for three months prior to this, where he was beaten.

The Ultima Handicap Chase is a wide open field, with many jockey’s competing to win the £110,000 prize money. The betting currently lies with Give Me A Copper, however last year’s winner Coo Star Sivola is a good fancy at 10-1, despite the recent form after having won the race last year. Also, Vintage Clouds could well be up towards the front of the field, having had wind surgery and only narrowly losing to Coo Star Sivola in this race last year.

The 15:30 race is possibly the race of the meeting seeing Apple’s Jade, Buveur D’Air and Laurina all face-off against each other, with the bookies favourite being Apple’s Jade with a seven pound mares allowance going in her favour. However, her toughest test will be the ever improving Laurina, having been unbeaten since joining the Mullins stable and strolling through her race at Cheltenham last year.

The Mares’ hurdle has Benie Des Dieux as rightly deserved favourite after being unbeaten since Mullins took over the horse, despite no prep run still won a grade one race at Punchestown last time out. Her nearest competitor will more than likely be another Mullins horse in Limini who beat a below-par Apple’s Jade in February 2017, but has not been impressive as of late.
A Plus Tard is deservingly the favourite at the 16:50 after being a listed winner in France and making a good start to his chase career. Quamino could be an interesting fancy but would require some more cut in the ground before the race began, also with Walt looking a good bet but with a seven pound rise due to his current success may see him struggling.

The two front runners in the 17:30 are both Ballyward and OK Corral with the preference going to OK Corral over previous form after winning by a comfortable six lengths last time out at a Warwick listed event, but the only worry is stamina and whether he can last 4 miles.

Sub-edited by Tom Kelly

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