CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL – DAY 1 (TUESDAY)

13:30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) Willie Mullins has taken three renewals of this in the last four years and saddles ante post favourite Melon. Only raced the one time in Ireland it is difficult to suggest he should win but he was fairly impressive and all things point to a big run. BALLYANDY leads the British challenge and his form is arguably the best anything has to offer. Proven over the course and distance his narrow defeats behind Moon Racer (Entered in the Champion Hurdle) and Messire Des Obeaux were backed up with an impressive win at Newbury the last day and he can follow up. BALLYANDY (WIN)

14:10 – Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) ALTIOR heads here as one of the most exiciting horses in training and bids to rack up his tenth consecutive victory, a breathtaking winner of last seasons Supreme Novices Hurdle he has been senational over fences to date. Charbel is no mug and got within six lengths of Altior at Sandown, from a yard amongst the winners he could be the one to play with in the without markets but defeat for the favourite is so unthinkable it would have to go down as one of the biggest ever Arkle shocks should it happen. ALTIOR (WIN)

14:50 – Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) The first of many handicaps at the meeting where we see the 2015 Gold Cup 4th line up at a place he adores. HOLYWELL has a remarkable festival record with two victories and a place in his last four runs here. Now running with a much lower weight he’s going to have everything in place for Jonjo O’Neills runner to put in a good performance. Noble Endeavour has been layed out for the race and looks the best of the rest with Caid Du Berlais potentially doing better than his price suggests. HOLYWELL (E/W)

15:30 – Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) The loss of superstars Faugheen and Annie Power to injury has left the door open for a new champion hurdler to step forward. Buveur D’air, Petit Mouchoir and Brain Power should all give their running. While, the connections of Moon Racer have to be respected for their decision to swerve the Supreme Novices to instead take a crack at the big one, but they may all struggle to cope with the classy 7-year-old YANWORTH Alan King’s horse has beaten all before him this season and while he has been workmanlike at times, he has got the job done on each occasion. The horse was impressive last term when only finding the impressive Yorkhill too good at the festival, and might’ve prevailed with a better ride. He looks rock solid here and gets the confident nod to land the spoils. YANWORTH (WIN)

16:10 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) Juggernaut owner Rich Ricci has lit a fire under this race by re-routing Limini to take on stablemate VROUM VROUM MAG. Limini accounted for the re-opposing Apple’s Jade in a scintillating performance last time out. Ruby Walsh opting to ride Limini has seen her rocket into favourite, but the horse is not the most consistent. Ricci’s other runner has two wins and a narrow defeat to her name this term. The loss was when conceding weight and should comfortably reverse that form here. The horse will relish the return to Cheltenham and it will take something very special to stop her. VROUM VROUM MAG (WIN)

16:50 – JT McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) The penultimate race on day one sees the amateur jockeys take a touch of the limelight. Noel Meade’s A Genie In Abottle looks set to go off a short priced favourite but looks worth taking on as he’s lumbered with top weight. Jockey William Biddick always does well in these types of races and jumps aboard ARPEGE D’ALENE. A horse that represents a top yard, has never finished outside of the top three at Cheltenham, loves the course and could relish this step up in trip. ARPEGE D’ALENE (E/W)

17:30 – Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed) This is often one of the most competitive handicaps of the festival and as such is a race to seek out value in. Dan Skelton looks to have laid out his pair, TWO TAFFS and Value at Risk for this race they would both have to be respected. The booking of prolific Cheltenham scorer Davy Russell on the former has caught the eye and his second behind the impressive Poker School makes him an irresistible each way bet in this one. TWO TAFFS (E/W)

Written by: Chris Connolly, Graeme Lafferty & Rory Paddock

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