It’s finally back! The Cheltenham Festival 2020 will kick off with the legendary Cheltenham roar at 1.30pm on Tuesday 10th March 2020.
In our preview item, three tips for each of the day’s seven races are provided below, from The Global Herald. In each case, the first selection is the “strongest” chance, while the others may provide some each-way value.
Some of the rationale is described for each race. Use the links below to jump to – or link to – a specific race.
There are some long prices on offer, on this ultra-competitive day of National Hunt horse racing.
Race 1 13:30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2m1/2f
- Shishkin (IRE)
- Abacadabras (FR)
- Whatsnotoknow (IRE)
Shishkin, the likely second favourite, is trained by Nicky Henderson and will be partnered by stable jockey Nico de Boinville. Gets the nod here for an impressive win at Newbury on heavy going in January which was a decent time, and tricky conditions, both of which may be needed here. Abacadabras is Gordon Elliott’s charge, and will be ridden by Davy Russell – like our first choice, this one did well on heavy going at Navan back in November – a repeat of that would go very close in this.
Whatsnotoknow is a rank outsider, at 250/1, but the stopwatch said February’s win at Thurles was actually pretty decent. Mouse Morris trains and Phillip Enright rides. A small stakes, extra-places, each-way bet could prove profitable if that form holds.
Willie Mullins’ likely favourite Asterion Forlong has done nothing but win, and he usually finds the winner of this Festival curtain raiser, but the preference today is for those who’ve clocked more on the softer stuff.
Race 2 14:10 – Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices Chase 2m
- NOTEBOOK (GER) – NAP
- Maire Banrigh (GB)
- Fakir D’Oudairies (FR)
Notebook is one of the more impressive in this year’s Arkle, and looks on paper to be proud of the competition for trainer Henry de Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore. Since going chasing, this one has done nothing but win, 4 from 4. Goes well on soft, and has put down better than any of today’s rivals. Very strong chance, and today’s NAP.
Of the rest, we like Maire Banrigh for the Skeltons, and JP O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies as each-way contenders.
Race 3 14:50 – Ultima Handicap Chase 3m1f
- Brave Eagle (IRE)
- Vintage Clouds (IRE)
- Townshend (GER)
Brave Eagle gets the nod, under Nico de Boinville for trainer Nicky Henderson, at a likely long price of around 40/1. Has the talent, but fitness must be taken on trust, as hasn’t been seen on course since November last year.
Hedge your bets with extra places, and also consider similarly long prices about Vintage Clouds for Sue Smith under this-season-returned Ryan Mania. We also think 40/1 is way too long about Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Townshend, who will be partnered by Jamie Nield.
Race 4 15:30 – Unibet Champion Hurdle 2m1/2f
- Petit Mouchoir (FR)
- Darver Star (IRE)
- Fusil Raffles (FR)
While the market may suggest otherwise, this looks to be a very open renewal, if not perhaps as high class as some years.
Rachael Blackmore could be on course for a good opening day, if Petit Mouchoir holds his form. Any improvement in this one’s level and it would be a big result at 28/1.
Darver Star and Fusil Raffles both need to put recent results out of their minds… but if they do, double figures look very good for the best they have in their respective lockers, too.
Race 5 16:10 – Close Brothers Mares Hurdle 2m4f
- Benie Des Dieux (FR)
- Stormy Ireland (FR)
- Popong (IRE)
Let’s not beat about the bush – anything but a Benie De Dieux victory here at odds-on would be a huge surprise in this year’s Mares Hurdle.
If you’re looking for some each-way value, Stormy Ireland has gone well on this course, and has got into the winning habit this season. Tends to make all, and could set the pace. If those behind slip up or don’t enjoy the going, she has the guts to tough it out and could be the potential value at 12/1.
Looking for mega-value? Popong goes for Henry de Bromhead under Aiden Coleman, and may well go off at 200/1. Was narrowly beaten last time out by Anything Will Do – who runs on Friday in the Festival – in a decent time; a little improvement on the back of that for this 5 year old, and could squeak some big place money. Take extra places!
Race 6 16:50 – Novices Handicap Chase 2m4f
- Highest Sun (FR)
- Hold The Note (IRE)
- Daly Tiger (FR)
Robbie Power rides Highest Sun for the Colin Tizzard stable, and will be hoping the ground stays nice and soft for this one, who seems like something of a mud-lark. If it’s soft or heavy, 22/1 may look like a decent price about this chance.
Mick Channon trains Hold The Note, who looks a live contender, based on a great performance last time out, when narrowly beaten by Two For Gold – who is a decent sort.
Noel Meade sends Daly Tiger, who will be under Sean Flanagan for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown. These connections don’t mess about, and this one has a couple of runs on the clock which mean the handicapper here has been more than fair. At 33/1, this looks like a nice each-way prospect.
Race 7 16:50 – National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase 3m6f
- Lord Du Mesnil (FR)
- Newtide (IRE)
- Smoking Gun (IRE)
The amateurs line up over this long distance steeplechase, and we like the experienced dentist, Sam Waley-Cohen’s mount, Lord Du Mesnil, trained by Richard Hobson, the likely second favourite. This one’s last three runs – all at Haydock, over 3m+, on soft or heavy – have been excellent. A repeat would put this one in the frame, at least.
Newtide (10/1) and Smoking Gun (22/1) are both good each-way chances, at long-ish prices, too.
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