In this the second part of my Guide To The Cheltenham Festival we take a look at the main races on Day 1 of the festival including how to make a shortlist of the most likely contenders in the key Cheltenham races of the day – the Supreme Novices Hurdle, Arkle Chase and the most valuable race on Day 1, the Champion Hurdle.
The main aim of this video is to help you narrow down the fields in the main three races of the day. As we looked at in the first video, the first two days races are run on the old course at Prestbury Park. The course is likely to have been watered if there has been no rain in the week running up to the start of the festival, to produce the required Good / Soft ground conditions. So Day 1 can be the slowest conditions of the week.
Supreme Novices Hurdle – 2m – 4yo+
It is great to start the festival off with a winner, as we did in 2010 when we put up Menorah for the Supreme Novices and he won for us at 12/1. Here is what to consider for your shortlist of horses for the Supreme Novices:
- Irish Entries – The Irish have tended to dominate this race winning 8 of the last 13 – so take a close look at the main Irish yards entries for the race.
- The big two UK Trainers – Henderson / Nicholls – look for stamina horses that they have put into the race.
- Last Time Out Winners – 13 of the last 15 winners of the Supreme have won their previous race.
- National Hunt v Ex-Flat Horses – since the watering of the course to ensure that there is Good / Soft ground on Day 1 – this has swung massively in favour of National Hunt bred horses rather than ex-flat horses – so side with them.
- Trials Races – Look at who won the previous year’s Champion Bumper, the Deloitte Hurdle and Royal Bond Novice Hurdle
- Experience is key – Look for horses with 3 or more runs over hurdles – this accounts for 5 of the last 7 winners.
- Recent Run – in the past 20 yrs all the winners except two, have had a run within the previous 45 days.
Arkle Chase – 2m – 5yo+
The first big chase of the Festival and comes straight after the Supreme Novices Hurdle.
- Top Rated Hurdler – The major stat is that is has been dominated by top rated hurdlers, with the last 11 winners from 12 having been rated 142 or more over hurdles. This has to be your starting point when narrowing the field down.
- Oppose Favourites – Only 2 favourites have won the race in the past 20 years.
- Odds of less than 11/1 – Only 1 winner in the past 20 years has been at odds greater than 11/1 on the day. So focus on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th favourites.
- Last Time Out Run – The selection must have come 1st or 2nd in his previous run.
- Age – Oppose young 5yo horses.
- Trials Races – Grade 2 November Novices at Cheltenham, Henry VIII Novice Chase at Sandown in December, the Kingmaker Novices Chase at Warwick and the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown.
Champion Hurdle – 2m – 4yo+
The most valuable race of Day 1 with over £200k in prize money. Here is what you should consider to help you narrow down the field:
- Won their previous start – One of the strongest trends for any race at Cheltenham is the fact that 24 of the last 28 winners of the Champion Hurdle won their previous race.
- Recent Run – They should of run in that calender year.
- Previous Cheltenham form – A win or place at Cheltenham already in their career. 17 of the last 26 winners have finished in the top 4 at the previous years festival. Particularly the previous year’s Champion Hurdle. 7 of the past 11 placed the previous year.
- Age – Again younger horses 5yo do not tend to do as well – only 1 winner since 1985.
- Irish Entries – As with the Supreme Novices – the Irish target this race on Day 1 with 9 Irish winners from the past 14.
- Top 6 In The Market – 18 of the last 21 winners have come from the top 6 in the market.
- Trials Races – The previous years Champion Hurdle, the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, 3 of the last 4 winners have competed in this race, the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, Rabobank Champion Hurdle and Istabraq Hurdle.
- Negatives - The Christmas Hurdle at Kempton – only 1 horse from 21 has gone on to win the Champion Hurdle after winning the Christmas Hurdle. Also The International Hurdle at Cheltenham only produced 1 winner in 37 years.
I hope this helps you enjoy Day 1 of the festival and find a few winners. Go through each of the three Grade 1 races and narrow the field down to the main contenders.
If you want my own personal selections for each day of the festival, feel free to join my Email Selection Service here>> Racing Profits Email Selection Service – each day I will be sharing my top 2 / 3 bets of the day for the festival. Last year we had some great winners and finished +26 pts up over the 4 days.