Well it is finally here and after a few years of disruption, it is good to see the Cheltenham Festival 2023 is going to be the festival we are used to and I hope the roar is stronger than ever as they line up for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at 1:30pm.
I have followed a number of horses across the past five months into this year’s festival and over the next few days I will post about them on here. I ran my tipping service from 2009 to 2019 and was proud to make good profits at every festival, including a +65pt profit week in 2010 when I backed Menorah at 14/1 in the Supreme. I always like to get started well, so here are my four bets for Day 1 this year.
1:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle
A race dominated by Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson over recent years, I am going for a Mullins runner this year, but not the one you may think. Facile Vega is still favourite, despite his run at Leopardstown when going off the 4/9f but finishing 20 lengths behind IL ETAIT TEMPS who is getting my vote to stamp the form not only over his stablemate but also a number of these runners who ran in the same race. Barry Connell’s Marine Nationale is the main worry, unbeaten including the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse, he will need to step up again, but could play a key part in the race.
SELECTION: IL ETAIT TEMPS – 2pts to win at 5/1
2:10 ARKLE NOVICES CHASE
This year’s Arkle looks to revolve around the top two in the market and way El Fabiolo beat Banbridge by 10 lengths, despite a couple of erros in his jumping, at Leopardstown in the Irish Arkle last month, I can see why he is edging favouritism at present. But I have been a JONBON fan over the past few years and put him up as my selection in the Supreme Novices last year, when beaten by Constitution Hill. I just think he has improved with each of his three runs over fences this season and he can win this. The improving Saint Roi also deserves a mention after winning on Boxing Day and he was unlucky to unseat in Irish Arkle at the 5th, as he may have pushed El Fabiolo.
SELECTION: JONBON – 2 pts to win at 7/4
2:50 ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE
It is not often I steam into the big field handicaps full of confidence but I have had INTO OVERDRIVE in my tracker for the past two year since I saw him win over fences at Carlisle on a mark of 112, he has then won five out of six races and risen to a mark of 147. The only defeat being a 1 length 2nd to L’Homme Presse at Newcastle in November who is now rated 170. The ground is perfect for him and this looks a superb opportunity for him to go close again.
SELECTION: INTO OVERDRIVE – 1 pt each way at 8/1
3:30 Champion Hurdle
I don’t see any value at all in backing Constitution Hill at the odds and I will probably have a small each way bet on I LIKE TO MOVE IT to finish 2nd, as a horse who is 3 from 3 over course and distance, I think he is a good each way price at 20/1.
4:10 Mares’ Hurdle
My final bet of the day will be on MARIE’S ROCK to beat Honeysuckle, I backed her last year in this race and think she is a better horse this year, so can repeat that performance. I am not sure why Honeysuckle has come back looking a little short of her best this season, but she has just lost that strong travelling pace she used to have and has finished both her races weakly this year. Epatante won well at Doncaster in her latest outing but has always just fallen short when at the very top.
SELECTION: MARIE’S ROCK – 2pts to win at 5/2
Enjoy Day 1 of the festival and don’t forget to check out my lay systems, I have a flat system for the all-weather and turf flat and a separate jumps system that works really well at Cheltenham – Racing Profits Lay Systems
Talk tomorrow – Rich