The Cheltenham Festival got off to an absolute flyer. Wins by Altior and Buveur D’air opened Nicky Henderson’s account at the Festival this season, (we expected nothing less on the opening day), as the race for Champion Trainer firmly gets underway. Day Two is expected to bring us just as much drama and excitement, if not more, so here at AppBet, we’ve taken a look at our best bets in the highlight races on the card.
Neptune Novice’s Hurdle
For ante-post backers, this could be an opportunity to take advantage of non-runner no bet offers and get your money back as Saturday brought the news that the well fancied Finian’s Oscar now out of the race. However, don’t be alarmed Colin Tizzard followers, we’ll still see him at Aintree.
With Finian’s Oscar now out of contention for this race the field has been blown wide open, and the current market leader for the race is Harry Fry-trained Neon Wolf. The six-year-old was given his seasonal debut after a 261-day break for Fry, and picked up the victory in a National Hunt Flat Race. Following that up with two more victories at Exeter and Haydock, he comes into this race putting his unbeaten record on the line and certainly looks the one to beat here.
Coral Handicap Hurdle
Market leader Modus heads into this race as top weight after his Lanzarote Hurdle victory back in January where he picked up a very convincing victory. Competing over the same distance in this race, we think the one problem that may face him is the 8lb weight penalty. He does fall into the stats of this race having no more than four runs before heading to Cheltenham and winning over this distance previously, so he should be one to consider.
Finishing seventh at the Festival last year, Jessica Harrington-trained Supasundae picked up a strong win at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve before following that up with a second-place finish behind Sutton Place at Naas at the end of January. He will look to go better at the Festival this year, and is a good each-way chance priced 16/1.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
Given his previous form not only at the Cheltenham Festival but his entire career, the whole of the racing world expects Douvan to cruise to victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Winning all 13 of his career starts, he looks the best horse that the Willie Mullins stable has to offer at the Festival this year and having already won the Supreme Novice Hurdle, and The Arkle on his two previous visits to Prestbury Park, we don’t think anything can beat him.
With Altior going to the Arkle and Un De Sceaux going to the Ryanair, we can’t pick out any serious challengers for Douvan, so the way to make your money in this race looks to be the each-way markets.
Colin Tizzard-trained Fox Norton got within 11 lengths of Douvan when the two met last season in the Arkle, and he could get that close again here. Finishing second on his last outing in The Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury, he has strong form previously at the Festival and finishing second in this race isn’t beyond him here.
He may not have shown the best of form this season, but we can’t ignore Henry De Bromhead-trained Special Tiara in this race. Featuring strongly in this race for the last two seasons, he has picked up two third place finishers, and at odds of 33/1 we think he is a very good price to finish the same position again this season.
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