Cheltenham Festival 2016 – Day 1

[symple_heading type=”h2″ title=”13:30 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

Champagne Fever won this race at 6.00, Vautour was 4.50 a year later and Douvan, who is probably the best of all three, won it at 3.00 last season. The stable and connections obviously know what is needed to win this race, but I cannot see why Min is the same price as Douvan was.  Min’s had his form franked repeatedly and on that basis he’s a deserving favourite, however I’d have him nearer the 3.75 – 4.00 mark.

The horse that I’m siding with in this race is ALTIOR. Earlier in the season, I had Maputo down as my Supreme horse, along with Moon Racer. Back in November, Altior beat Maputo at Cheltenham, although Maputo was injured inside the final furlong and subsequently retired. They did both however, come well clear of the third placed horse.

I was then at Kempton on Boxing Day and saw Altior walking around the parade ring. His size and frame was impressive. He then went on to beat a good yardstick horse in Open Eagle by thirteen lengths on the bridle, quickening nicely away from the field. Altior was three seconds slower than Faugheen at Kempton based on overall race times, but was less than half a second slower in covering the final three furlongs.

The Mullins stable know how good Open Eagle is, he’s since gone on to win and place second in a Grade Two, however for the current prices to be justified, I would want to know that Min could beat him by 16+ lengths.

Since that race at Kempton, Meet The Legend and Gwafa have also gone on to win. These horses were beaten even further by Altior that day, than Open Eagle was.

I think that Altior should be in the 4.33 – 4.50 price range, so am happy to advise a back of him at 5.50.

BACK ALTIOR AT 5.50 (William Hill and Paddy Power)

[symple_heading type=”h2″ title=”14:10 – The Arkle” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

DOUVAN was too good for these on hurdles form and has looked even better since switching to fences. He’s a previous Festival winner, taking the Supreme Novices’ last year and he’s priced up like a ‘good thing’ should be.

I’m not backing him at the current odds, but if any 1.50 is available, I’d be tempted to get involved.

[symple_heading type=”h2″ title=”15:30 – The Champion Hurdle” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

Unfortunately we are missing the first four home from last years renewal of this race. The New One finished in fifth that day, after failing to win the year before and for that reason I cannot be backing him in this.

My Tent Or Yours was beaten in a Supreme and then a Champion Hurdle, he’s since had two years off the track and for those reasons I’ve put a line through him, he should be at least 15.0.

Nichols Canyon has won six Grade One events, and is the only horse to beat Faugheen, although Faugheen was overweight and unfit that day. That was corrected when they met again in The Irish Champion Hurdle, where Nichols Canyon was brushed aside, finishing twenty-eight lengths behind in third. Since that race the front two, Faugheen and Artic Fire have both been injured and miss this race. That leaves me with a question mark over Nichols Canyon’s well-being; he ran so far below his previous form in tough conditions that he may not get back to his best. The stable deciding to supplement ANNIE POWER can also be used to add weight to the argument that he’s not the same horse that picked up a number of top level victories.

I’ve always been a big fan of Annie Power and I do think she would have won the Champion Hurdle in 2014 if she’d been allowed to race in it. She went to the World Hurdle that year and finished a credible second. Last year she would have won the Mares if she hadn’t jumped a shadow at the last.

People are questioning her ability to be quick enough over two miles, but this is something I don’t have any doubts about. She comes from a good flat pedigree, with her sire being the same as Group One flat winner Brown Panthers’.

The biggest bonus for Annie Power however, is the 7lbs Mares’ Allowance that she receives. If she was race fit and at her best I’d expect her to beat this field off level weights. The fact that she now gets weight from the whole field and is apparently 100% race ready and fit means that I’ve priced her up at 2.50.

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t see last years juveniles as a danger, Peace and Co has been way below form this year and despite me thinking that Top Notch had the potential to be a Champion Hurdle winner, he just hasn’t shown me enough this year, with three defeats from four starts, with his only win coming against 140 rated handicappers.

BACK ANNIE POWER AT 3.50 (William Hill and Paddy Power)

[symple_heading type=”h2″ title=”16:10 – Mares’ Hurdle” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

Vroum Vroum Mag looks to continue the Mullins domination of this race, after Quevega won it six times and Glens Melody winning it last year.

The horse that interests me the most this year is POLLY PEACHUM. She finished second in this race last year and has never run a bad race.

I don’t think that Vroum Vroum Mag has shown anywhere near the level of form that Glens Melody showed and I also don’t see much potential there. She’s never raced against a horse who could get close to a mare like Quevega or even At Fishers Cross for that matter.

In finishing second to Glens Melody in this race last year, Polly Peachum has already shown a level of form good enough to win this and in my book she should be join favourite at worst.

BACK POLLY PEACHUM AT 7.50 (Bet Victor, William Hill, Coral)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *