Cheltenham Festival Betting: Tom Lee's Day One Tips & Blog


There's no dispute - the greatest show on turf is about to be unleashed over the course of four days in a stunning natural amphitheatre in Gloucestershire - Cheltenham is the Festival, so have a few bets, sit back, relax, and watch the action unfold, there'll be no shortage of it!

Much will be made of the famous Cheltenham roar that will accompany runners as they jump off for the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle (1.30), but I'm more concerned about the din from the betting ring as they're passing the finishing line, and although a red hot opening day challenge for Ireland is spearheaded by the Willie Mullins-trained Douvan, the value may lurk closer to home with AP McCoy's mount Jollyallan. 

Douvan lacks know-how in a bigger field, racing left-handed and on quicker ground, whereas the more battle hardened Jollyallan is proven on a testing track, won't mind the spring ground, and has more experience.  

Given that's four or five times the price of the favourite he looks the each way value to further strengthen the burgeoning reputation of young trainer Harry Fry. 

No less fast or furious will be the Arkle (2.05), and race two boasts an even stronger WP Mullins market leader, with the whirlwind presence of Un De Sceaux about to blow into town.

Racegoers Enjoy The Final Day Of Cheltenham Festival : News Photo

This French import knows only one gear: flat out! That could spell danger though, think back to his chasing debut in Ireland when his exuberant style led to him tipping Ruby Walsh over the handlebars, a repeat wouldn't be popular with punters contemplating placing their hard earned cash on him at prohibitive prices, and a cracking value alternative looks to be Kingmaker winner Vibrato Valtat.

The flashy grey won plenty of fans with his slick win at Warwick, and his powerful finishing burst allied to his precision jumping make him the one to capitalise should Un De Sceaux boil over.  

With the action relentless it's Champion Hurdle time at 3.20pm on day one, and hot on the heels of Douvan and Un De Sceaux we've got another Mullins big gun towering over the market, in the shape of unbeaten Faugheen. 

A perfect eight from eight and a winner at least year's Festival, this is a really exciting horse, the hype only boosted by his nonchalant Christmas Hurdle win at Kempton Park last time out.

However, this is set to be much his hardest test, and the stats don't fill you with confidence...

Not only has he not had a prep run, but just one of the last 23 winners of the Christmas Hurdle to run in the Champion have succeeded, and though it'll be verging on blasphemy to some readers, I'm once again going to try and halt the Mullins juggernaut with a bigger priced alternative. 

Don't underestimate last year's unlucky in-running third The New One, or dual former winner of this race Hurricane Fly, a horse who lest we forget boasts a staggering (record) 22 Grade 1 wins, but at the prices the one to be with is last year's winner Jezki.

Trained specifically for one day, this one, you can put a line through his winter form which has seen him on the losing end of three tussles with Hurricane Fly, at Punchestown and Leopardstown (twice).

Racegoers Enjoy The Final Day Of Cheltenham Festival : News Photo

A faster run race on spring ground is what this fella wants, and he can give AP McCoy a dream farewell on the big stage. 

This is an incredibly tough horse, and one who proved his spring credentials when following up his Cheltenham win of 2014 with an equally weighty end of season strike at Punchestown. 

As an aside, anyone looking for a huge value each way play to try and find one to make the frame at 33/1, there'll be many worse contenders during the week at those sort of prices than Nicky Henderson's Vaniteux - last year's Supreme Novices' third chased home The New One in the International Hurdle back in December, and could easily squeak a place here. 

Dipping our toe in handicap company for the first time in the four days, the Evan Williams-trained Barrakilla might be the solution to a fiendish 24 runner Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase at 2.40pm.

There are stacks of options here, but none more convincing than this progressive eight-year-old from an in-form stable.

Back in November his third to Sound Investment at Sandown appeared a fair effort, but it looks much better now in light of that rival's subsequent win in Newbury's Greatwood Gold Cup.

Does he know his way around Cheltenham? Not a problem, as his second in the December Gold Cup last time out proved, when sent off the well fancied 9/2 joint favourite. 

Last but not least, one for the Mullins fans should come in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle at 4.00pm, when the mighty Annie Power makes her seasonal reappearance. 

She tasted her only defeat to date in a 12 race career when second to More Of That in the World Hurdle here 12 months ago, but back against her own sex she looks to be the banker of day one, and may well be about to embark on a sequence in this race to rival former stablemate 'Queen' Quevega. Good luck!

 

Tuesday's best bets at Cheltenham:

1.30 - SkyBet Supreme Novices' Hurdle - Jollyallan 8/1 (each way)

2.05 - Racing Post Arkle - Vibrato Valtat 11/2 (each way)

2.40 - Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase - Barrakilla 14/1 (each way)

3.20 - Stan James Champion Hurdle - Jezki 9/2 (each way)

4.00 - David Nicholson Mares Hurdle - Annie Power 4/6 (win)