Day One - Cheltenham Festival 2018 Betting Odds - Tuesday 13th March

Day One - Cheltenham Festival 2018 Betting Odds - Tuesday 13th March

There are not too many days to tick off the calendar now until it all begins, as this year’s Cheltenham Festival moves ever closer. With the contests now really beginning to take shape, here we have an early look at the Day One action, picking out a few of the most likely contenders and offering up some tasty ante post odds.

Check out our Cheltenham odds comparison for the best prices and note that many bookies are now Non-Runner No Bet. That means you can grab some early ante post value without the risk of your horse not going to post.

1:30 - Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Samcro being dropped back to this trip for the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons for this market. Having previously been stepped up to 2m4f, it was widely expected he would be kept to that longer trip in preparation for a tilt at the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle later in the week.

Having absolutely bolted up in the Deloitte – a Grade 1 contest – connections may well be considering their options, for all that the comments emanating from the camp do seem to suggest that it will still be the Ballymore which is his next port of call. Currently available at best betting odds of 5/1 with Betfair, expect Gordon Elliott’s latest superstar to start favourite should he take up this option.

Willie Mullins’ Getabird has had a pretty similar lead up to this race as Samcro, and heads most lists amongst the bookmakers not yet offering the non-runner, money back concession. A winner over 2m4f at Punchestown in December, he was then dropped to 2m for a Grade 2 at that track last time out, and promptly blitzed his rivals by an impressive nine lengths. This son of Getaway also has the Ballymore as an option, but this does seem his more likely target. The Rich Ricci-owned runner can be backed at best odds of 5/2 with William Hill and looks the one to be on to our eyes.

2:10 - Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase

It’s all green at the head of the market here, as the two-tone green colours of Isaac Souede and Simon Munir are sported by both the first and second favourite for the race, Footpad (evens with Ladbrokes) and Sceau Royal (6/1 with Betfair). Owners often don’t like to pitch two of their best performers in against each other, but this does look the obvious race for the pair and they are expected to lock horns on the day.

Footpad has been the more impressive so far this season, and we would be very surprised were there a better jumper of a fence in this field. Sceau Royal will arrive seeking a four-timer of his own however and may well pull out more in the heat of battle.

Also in contention is Henry De Bromhead’s Petit Mouchoir (5/1 with Betfair) who was a better horse than Footpad over hurdles - beating the Willie Mullins runner three times - but was well beaten off when second to him in the Irish Arkle. Connections will be hoping the better ground in the Spring may bring him closer.

Overall, it’s Footpad for us here though and his superb jumping is at the very least almost certain to keep you interested all the way round.

2:50 - Ultima Handicap Chase

Such has been the level of form shown by Nicky Henderson’s, Gold Present, so far this season, that he certainly wouldn’t be out of place in contests such as the Ryanair Chase. Having beaten Frodon easily last time out – and with that Paul Nicholls runner now rated 164 – connections may well stick to this handicap contest looking to exploit what may prove a lenient mark of 155. The compilers certainly seem to think he has a good chance of ending up here, with BetVictor making him their early 10/1 favourite for the race. He looks well worth a punt at double digit odds.

Singlefarmpayment (14/1 with William Hill) is another of interest. He didn’t quite cut it when stepped into lofty Grade 1 company for the Cotswold Chase last time out but connections must think something of him to even give him a shot at a race like that and this should prove a little easier.

3:30 - Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

Whilst Buveur D’air’s recent win in the Contenders Hurdle wasn’t quite as easy on the eye as his previous victories in the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle, it was nevertheless a smart effort, and the defending champion looks an increasingly solid favourite here.

The enhancement of Buveur D’air’s chance mainly comes down to the continued below par form of the one horse who certainly could give him a race were he near his best, Faugheen. Having been pulled up in the Ryanair Hurdle, “the Machine” at least took a step back in the right direction when second in the Irish Champion Hurdle, but a 2 ¼l defeat to Supasundae still leaves him with significant ground to make up.

Of the rest, My Tent Or Yours is 11 years old now, making it look a tall order to better his three previous runners up finishes in the contest. The promising Melon took a backwards step in the Irish Champion Hurdle, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s going on in Yorkhill’s head at the minute following another woeful display in the Coral Dublin Chase.

As such we see this one going to the favourite and even at short odds he just has to be the pick here to make it two in a row.

4:10 - OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

The British banker of Day 1, Buveur D’air, is quickly followed by the horse who looks like Ireland’s most likely winner. Gordon Elliott’s Apple’s Jade came out on top in a thriller in this race last year and looks at least as good this season. Three from three to date, her verdict over Supasundae over three miles last time out led to a clamour for her to run in the Stayers Hurdle. This remains the stated target though and she will take plenty of beating. At short betting odds 4/6 with Betfair, we predict she will be the good thing of the day for many - including us.

Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag couldn’t master Apple’s Jade here 12 months ago, and it may be their fellow Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci runner, Let’s Dance, who gets a crack at her this time around. This one didn’t stay when upped to three miles last time but had won a Grade 3 over this trip by eight lengths on her previous start. Having won the Mares Novice race at this meeting last year, we also know she likes the track and could go close.

4:50 - National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase

We have a couple of previous Festival winners heading the betting here in the form of the Patrick Kelly duo, Presenting Percy (8/1 with Ladbrokes) and Mall Dini (10/1 with Betfair). We would advise not getting too heavily involved in this contest just yet though – unless betting NRNB – as many of these may end up elsewhere. Presenting Percy for example has more than earnt a shot at the RSA Chase on his efforts so far this season.

The odds would certainly suggest that we are likely to have an Irish winner of this though, with 10 of the first 12 in the betting hailing from the Emerald Isle. Colin Tizzard’s Elegant Escape (14/1 with Coral) may prove best of the British-trained runners, following his good run behind Black Corton last time.

5:30 - Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

Paul Nicholls’ Movewiththetimes (16/1 with Betfair) looks an interesting contender in the Day 1 finale. This seven year old hasn’t yet really delivered on the potential shown when second to Ballyandy in last season’s Betfair Hurdle, but it may simply be that he is at his best in big field affairs where a strong pace can be assured. This will be the first time he has encountered such conditions since that fine run in the Betfair Hurdle and he is fancied to go well. He’d be our pick at this stage.

Going in the same JP McManus colours, Hells Kitchen is another for the shortlist. It all went wrong for him last time out at Leopardstown, but he had previously looked a progressive performer when seeing off subsequent winner, Mister Whitaker at Kempton and the Harry Fry runner is not one to give up on yet.