13:30 Cheltenham - Supreme Novices Hurdle Dysart Dynamo was last seen in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer where he made all to record a nineteen-length victory, setting an almost relentless gallop yet looking in complete command throughout and at the same time also capable of more if needed, finishing a full ten seconds faster than a couple of other two-mile hurdle races on the card. Unbeaten in four, he looks to have bags of potential and for me should be capable of emulating the likes of Vautour and Douvan in following up a victory in the Moscow Flyer with a win in the opener.
Constitution Hill demolished rivals in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January, travelling strongly and jumping both fluently and economically, easing clear of the chasing pack to win by twelve lengths. As visually impressive as he was in victory, the horses that finished second and third were only rated in the 120’s and although both arrived with multiple victories to their respective names, these victories came over intermediate trips so while there is no denying he is a hugely exciting prospect I would be a little wary of the bare form especially at such a short price.
Mighty Potter doesn’t quite look the finished article as yet, however has gone a long way to suggest he has the potential to go far, winning by almost thirty lengths on hurdles debut before an encouraging third in the Grade 1 Royal Bond in November, staying on very strongly on the run in to go down by just over a length. He put that experience to good use when seeing off the challenge of Three Strip Life to win a Grade 1 at Leopardstown in December and although a little quirky is undoubtedly a talented individual so warrants plenty of respect and looks the best each way option for those wanting to hedge their bets.
written by Dean Kilbryde 14:10 Cheltenham - Arkle Chase
Arkle lines up with 11 runners with Edwardstone flying the flag for Britain currently favourite in the market. Edwardstone is on a roll this season and chasing seems to have made him this season having won 4 of his 5 races this season beating some creditable opponents on the British soil.
The problem maybe though for Edwardstone is he hasn't come up against any of the top Irish novice 2-mile chasers this season and there is a whole host of them behind him in the market.
Blue Lord ran well in the supreme last year before falling but has looked good this season over his fences and remains unbeaten over them. Wasn't entirely convinced though by his last performance though at Leopardstown and I feel he was a little lucky against Riviere D'etel who had she not jumped badly at the last may have won that race. She gets a 7 pounds mare allowance against her opponents which could prove really helpful. The vibes from Gordon Elliot yard on Riviere D'etel are very positive I think they're expecting a big run.
Willie Mullins other runners Saint Sam & Haut En Couleurs are only aged 5 and the record of 5 years old winning the Arkle in recent years you have to go back to 2006 when the last 5-year-old won it which isn't a great trend if you fancy a 5-year-old horse winning this race. Although Saint Sam does have some form round here at Cheltenham finishing 2nd at the festival last year in the boodles.
Magic Daze is another with a mare allowance which will help her in this race and certainly isn't without an each way chance given she has shown some good form over in Ireland considering Henry De Bromhead yard have not been so consistent as they were last season.
My selection is the other Henry De Bromhead horse Coeur Sublime. Twice this season he has been behind Ferny Hollow (Who more than likely would have been favourite for this race had he not been ruled out with injury) so he has competed with the best this season. Forget the runs at Christmas when Henry De Bromhead yard wasn't firing at all.
I just find it interesting Rachel Blackmore chose to ride Coeur Sublime over Magic Daze as I assume she would have had the choice out of the two. Coeur Sublime always seems to run in the better quality of races throughout his career in his Hurdling days and I don't think this is the strongest Arkle going this season. At a bigger double figure price, I just feel perhaps Coeur Sublime is being overlooked in what I think although isn't that strong has the potential for being wide open.
written by Luke Tucker
14:50 Cheltenham - Ultima Handicap Chase
The Ultima Handicap Chase lines up with 24 runners so the max field. Top weight Frodon is in here and the former King George winner although top weight will surely adopt those bold front running tactics which will make the pace of this race fairly quick you imagine. Although all that weight to carry I wouldn't rule out Frodon a former festival winner himself to be in contention and place.
A gold cup third in 2020 runs in this being Lostintranslation another who will have to carry a lot of weight going around here. If the ground is on the better side of good this will suit him. Hard to trust Lostintranslation as his last two runs have been disappointing and is becoming a bit of an excuse horse.
Ireland havent won this race since 2006 but this time they do have some strong contenders with Death Duty being one of them. Sneaked in here on a good weight and won at Punchestown last time out arrives here in good form. Would he want it a bit more soft?
Floueur another for Gordon Elliot will have a strong chance with jockey Jordon Gainford taking a handy 3 pounds off. Vintage Clouds is only one pound higher than winning this race last year although despite his age of 12 would be dangerous to rule out.
Does He Know has a lot of good solid course form round here and will probably go off favourite here. My concern with him he can get a bit excited in the Paddock at start with the Cheltenham crowd that may not suit Does He Know
My selection though is Fantastikas. This horse looks progressive and in my view will stay on going up the hill at a double figure price looks a good each way selection. Has won on a variety of grounds so has a bit of versatility about him. Nigel Twiston Davies has a great record round Cheltenham this season and boasts an impressive 30 percent strike rate round Cheltenham this season. So he knows how to get one ready at the course of Cheltenham and they respond.
You want a horse that stays in these Handicap type of races and won't mind the Cheltenham hill at all. Lightly raced as a 7 year old I feel there is more progression in him. It may just be worth sticking with a UK horse in this race given there good record in recent times. They'll be plenty of bookies giving 5, 6 or maybe 7 places so do look about.
written by Luke Tucker
15:30 Cheltenham - Champion Hurdle
Honeysuckle quite rightly heads the market in her bid to follow up last year’s victory to make her a duel champion hurdle winner as well as remaining unbeaten in her 15 career starts.
I think it’s fair to say that her trainer Henry De Bromhead hasn’t had the best of seasons, however this mare has won twice this season and looked as good as ever.
The two mile hurdle division hasn’t had much strength in depth for a while, so is there anything in the way of opposition this year?
Appreciate It, last year’s impressive supreme winner, has had an unorthodox approach to this race in that his novice chase campaign was put on the back burner after a minor setback.
Connections have now targeted this race and although the horse has tons of ability it’s indicative of the strength of this race that he is currently second favourite.
Teahupoo was impressive last time and is improving all the time however it remains to be seen if the level of his form is worthy of a mark just three pounds behind Honeysuckle.
Epatante and Zanahiyr will run their races, but there’s no obvious reason why they should reverse previous form with Honeysuckle.
It may be worth trying to find some value each way so with that in mind Adagio rarely runs a bad race and a cracking effort under a big weight in the Greatwood would give him a squeak at a place.
Saint Roi was a strong fancy to be a potential champion a while ago. Things haven’t quite panned out for him though. It’s interesting that connections are persevering with him at this level and he could run a huge race at a massive price, with decent ground and a strongly run race he may go closer than many expect.
written by Matt Polley
16:10 Cheltenham - Mares Hurdle
Telmesomethinggirl looked a very nice mare when winning the mares novices hurdle at last years festival and though she hasn’t won since that race, she has run some nice races in defeat this campaign - importantly getting better with each run. The trip could suit her perfectly and she definitely commands respect in this line up.
Echoes In Rain ran a blinder behind Honeysuckle last time out and she steps up in trip here for the first time. It perhaps doesn’t look the most obvious move given that she has a tendency to be quite keen but the likely strong pace that is expected from her stablemate Stormy Ireland, would bring her into the mix.
Queens Brook finished behind Burning Victory last time out at Punchestown but I fully expect her to reverse that form on this occasion without having to give the weight away and she too could figure in this tight contest.
That being said, I’m siding with Telmesomethinggirl here to make it back to back wins at the festival as the race should be run to suit her coming from off the pace. She is proven at the trip and at Cheltenham and could enhance the record of favourites in the mares hurdle where seven of the fourteen runnings have been won by the market leader in this event.
written by Tom Bates 16:50 Cheltenham - Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
The Boodles see’s the Irish hold a strong hand like they do for the majority of the Festival and the week's biggest talking horse Gaelic Warrior lines up. By owner Rich Ricci’s own admission, he has never even set eyes upon the gelding. Ricci also admitted they had hoped Gaelic Warrior would have been given a mark of 139 to replicate his French mark, but to their delight he was given 129. He has had three starts in France before heading to Closutton and reportedly he has been working well with good horses, it is a lot to be taken on trust but he is in the right place to be readied for Festival success.
Away from the likely favourite I like the chances of Prairie Dancer for Joseph O’Brien who I feel has a lenient mark of 126. The gelding is yet to win over hurdles but he was a two-time winner on the flat and his second win he beat Ebasari giving him 13lb, now he receives 5lb from Ebasari and is double the price at the time of writing. Last time out he chased home the well thought of Icare Allen and may have got closer with a bit slicker jumping.
written by Michael Taylor
17:30 Cheltenham - National Hunt Cup
A disappointing turnout of just seven for the ‘four-miler’, which has had its overall distance trimmed in recent years but still takes some getting. The markets would have you believe that this a straight match between Stattler and Run Wild Fred and both would appear to hold solid chances, with the former last seen impressive in victory in a Grade 3 race at Naas in January, travelling well and staying on strongly to hold off the sustained challenge of Farouk D’Alene with the re-opposing Vanillier a long way back in third and the latter proving to be an extremely consistent performer having posted a win and five second placed finishes in his last six races. Gordon Elliott has an excellent record in the race and Run Wild Fred looks sure to get involved, however of the two market principals it is Willie Mullins’ Stattler that is preferred.
At a slightly bigger price, Pat’s Fancy looks to have both the stamina and ability to get involved. He put up a gallant display in defeat last time out, going down by just over three lengths to the classy Bravemansgame at Newbury in February, and had previously beat subsequent winner Imperial Alcazar by eleven lengths at Chepstow despite racing from 5lbs out of the handicap. He was reported to have come out of the Newbury race in excellent condition and given that race came at a course better known for its speed, there is optimism that both the Cheltenham track and the extra distance encountered here will suit. Top amateur jockey Barry O’Neill has been booked for the ride and if he does indeed see out the trip then he’s not without a chance.
written by Dean Kilbryde