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Richard Hoiles: My 4 best bets for day one at Cheltenham

11 Mar | BY Richard Hoiles | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Hoiles: My 4 best bets for day one at Cheltenham

The racing broadcaster reveals his fancies in the Supreme, Ultima and National Hunt Chase and has an each-way play in the Mares' Hurdle.

13:30 SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE

With Ballyburn waiting for tomorrow, this race now has a far more open look to it. Preference is for FIREFOX / who beat Ballyburn at Fairyhouse in December before losing his unbeaten record with a rather lacklustre display at Naas over an extra half mile. Visually it was difficult to blame the trip and, hopefully, it was just a bad day at the office (he had also been beaten when an odds-on favourite in a bumper at the track).

Other points to note from this will be how Jeriko Du Reponet fares (with question marks over the Nicky Henderson yard) and the run time (which will give a clue as to the state of the ground). If the grounds is soft the time should be around four minutes granted an even pace. Better than 03:50 and it would be closer to good-to-soft and heavy if pushing 04:10.

14:10 ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY

This race looked confusing even prior to Marine Nationale’s defeat at the Dublin Racing Festival and his subsequent absence through injury. On paper, this is a sub-standard renewal with a question whether Il Etait Temps is as effective as Cheltenham. The appearance of Gaelic Warrior is fascinating given he also has questions at the track due to his tendency to jump right.

With Matata wanting to jump left, you would want the jockey of your selection to have their wits about them. With Joe Tizzard in good form JPR One could play a hand, as could Quilixios, the 2021 Triumph Hurdle winner who successfully dropped back in trip to win at Naas last time.

14:50 ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE

An event that often goes to a horse that has run in the race in the past. Top of the list is THE GOFFER / , who was fourth in what turned out to be a strong renewal 12 months ago when Corach Rambler beat Fastorslow.

The Irish have a poor record in the race but their representation is notably stronger this year so that stat may have had its time. The Goffer also made his ground a little swiftly last year and, if ridden more patiently and off a 2lb lower mark, makes plenty of appeal and rates as one of the best bets on day one.

15:30 CHAMPION HURDLE

State Man has beaten all put in front of him this season and, in the absence of Constitution Hill, looks by far the most likely winner but not at a price that makes much appeal. Whether or not to get involved in the race will probably depend on whether all eight stand their ground to give the race an each-way angle.

The supplemented Iberico Lord is on the upgrade but has the stable worry to be answered so Nemean Lion may be the most interesting with the ground in his favour. Quite a few of the races have this sort of shape this year and it bears repeating that the best horses to play each-way or without the favourite are those that are going to ridden quietly to pick up the pieces rather than get involved in trying to win the race, so a case can be made for Colonel Mustard at even bigger odds.

16:10 MARES’ HURDLE

While clearly best on form, Lossiemouth will likely encounter very different conditions to her romp here earlier on in the season. She may well have the class to cope with the extra half mile on deeper ground but there are some decent horses in opposition including the horse she beat last time, LOVE ENVOI (EW) / , who would relish deep ground.

She has not been at her best this season but this is her final start before heading to the sales ring and her Festival record is good, only succumbing to Honeysuckle after the last 12 months ago and winning of the Dawn Run the year before. Cheekpieces are being fitted to try and rekindle a fire that has burned less brightly this season, but the other riders will be well aware of Lossiemouth’s potential Achilles heel so it seems unlikely to be a crawl. She could be worth playing each-way.

16:50 BOODLES JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE

A minefield that I am happy to avoid. Milan Tino has been more realistically assessed by the handicapper and could potentially give a boost (or otherwise) for the Sir Gino form. There are lots of potential improvers in the field with the likes of Miss Manzor and Karia Des Blaises who both started out in France (an angle I always like for this race) and fought out a finish at Fairyhouse last time.

Ose Partir has been mentioned a few times in preview evenings I have attended but my personal feeling is I could spend hours looking at this race and be none the wiser.

17:30 NATIONAL HUNT CHASE

This race looks much more manageable by contrast with the smallest field on day one. EMBASSY GARDENS / looks to have come into his own over the larger obstacles and, with the race being named after Maureen Mullins, the stable would dearly love to win it. I am also happy to take on Corbetts Cross after he elected to run through the wing rather than jump the last when the chips were down in the Albert Bartlett last year. Given his profile, being brought down last time (through no fault of his own) was hardly ideal.

The Reynoldstown looks a weak renewal so I am happy to oppose Henry’s Friend and Kilbeg King. This looks the right race for Apple Away (third at Ascot last time) so I would rather she had gotten into the Ultima, but Embassy Gardens is a fine-looking horse and hopefully will not let the occasion get to him like he seemed to in last year’s Albert Bartlett when he was very keen. His jumping has been an asset in his two chasing darts to date.

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Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.