It’s now only a matter of days until the start Cheltenham Festival and the famous opening day roar. Over at AppBet we like to be prepared for big race meetings just like Cheltenham, so we’ve taken a look at the opening day of the Festival and picked out our best bets.
Supreme Novice Hurdle
Last season this race was all about the battle between Min and Altior, and thankfully for our followers, it was the latter who picked up the victory. This season it’s another Willie Mullins horse hitting the headlines, as Melon attempts to win at Cheltenham in only his second ever career race.
Following his arrival from France, Melon was kept hidden from view at the start of the season before his long-awaited debut in January. Competing over two miles at Leopardstown, he tracked the leaders well before improving three obstacles from home and eased to a ten length victory in the hands of Ruby Walsh.
The betting suggests he’s the one to beat in this race, and we would suggest getting on him quickly before his odds go below 3/1.
Arkle Challenge Trophy
This race is all about one horse, Nicky Henderson-trained Altior. Getting the 2016 Festival off to a flyer, the seven-year-old has made the transition to chase fences this season and seems to be just as effective at winning races. Victorious in his first three races over larger obstacles, he didn’t put a foot wrong in his most recent outing at Newbury, stretching away to a record 13 length victory in The Game Spirit Chase.
With Altior the odds-on favourite to take this race at 1/4, the each-way market seems the way to go. If you still want to get behind Nicky Henderson and get more horse for your money, then we suggest 10/1 shot Top Notch. Coming into this race with a string of four successive victories behind him, he could give his trainer a very nice forecast.
Another that has caught our attention is Brian Ellison- trained Forest Bihan, priced at 20/1 he looks an enticing prospect having won his last two outings, and although he faces a step up in class here, we still expect a strong performance.
The highlight race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle, and last year it was mare Annie Power who stepped up to take the race and right the wrongs of 2015 when she stumbled in the Mares Hurdle.
We had dreams of her taking on Faugheen in the race this season and seeing the two horses in the colour of Rich Ricci battle it out in the closing stages of the race. However, with injury forcing them both of out the festival, this race has been blown wide open.
Current market leader Buveur D’air was a third placed finisher Supreme Novice Hurdle last year, and we expected his destination Cheltenham to be the Arkle as he was sent over fences at the start of the campaign. However, following the withdrawal of the Mullins duo, he was taken back over timber in preparation for an attack on this race. Winning convincingly at Sandown last time out, he should go well here and potentially give favourite-backers a decent priced winner.
If you are looking for a Mullins horse to back in the race and you’re a supporter of Ruby Walsh then Footpad looks your best bet. Two miles looks to be the ideal distance for the five-year-old who has picked up two-second place finishes already this season and perhaps will look to go one better here. With odds of 16/1 still available, he should be a solid each-way bet for the race.
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