Hello and welcome to our coverage of the Cheltenham Festival, for the next four days we will bring you a blog with NO affiliate links and that is 100% independent.
Its here, the most prestigious 4 days of the National Hunt racing calendar is finally upon us, no more need for the numerous countdown tweets and the OMG I am so excited… We have a jammed blog for you all over the next 4 days, so we shall introduce you to the team…
Alongside Charlie & Rich, we are pleased to welcome Chris Price, the writer of the NH Diary… We also welcome a couple of special guests… Lee Mckenzie from Talksport 2 & top trainer Brendan Powell….
Charlie will lead the way with his Selections for day one, the guests will all play nicely in the middle, while Rich will have the final word…So lets get cracking…
Charlie – Day One is going to be important to whoever has the best start and I feel Nicky Henderson will want to hit the ground running from race 1.
Angels Breath 🌟🌟🌟-Angels Breath for some having only ran twice this year for Nicky Henderson may seem a negative, I tend to disagree with that as although has only had a couple of races Angels Breath has ran well enough on both occasions, winning at Ascot over 1m 8f in the Supreme trial beating Danny Kirwan by 4 and 1/2 lengths. Next run came at Kempton in the Dovecoat Novice Hurdle over 2m when losing by 3/4 length to the Paul Nichols trained Southfield Stone after blundering the last. Although was 2nd in that race, battled on gamely even after making a mistake at the last. With a clear round of jumping and the experience of that race behind it could easily take this race for a trainer who has won it before and looks reasonably priced at 9-2 at time of writing.
Loug Derg Spirit 🌟🌟🌟 -Is another who is trained by Nicky Henderson. Loug Derg Spirit has a 50% strike rate in chases having won 2 from 4 over 2m 3f at Wetherby when beating Cool Mix by 7 lengths and won over 2m 4 at Ludlow when beating Lillington by 12 lengths . Has form on soft ground and could easily follow up here, although I have suggested an Eachway play, it may be best looking for bookie that is paying 4 or more places on this race. Loug Derg Spirit looks overpriced at 16-1 at time of writing and could be shorter closer to race time
Ok Corral 🌟🌟🌟 -For me is my nap of the meeting, I know there will be some who disagree with my thinking on this but I will try and explain why it’s my Nap of the meeting. Firstly Ok Corral has an interesting race history having had 10 runs in total Winning 5 of those covering NH Flat with 2 starts winning 1 and finishing 2nd in the other, Hurdles seen Ok Corral have 5 starts, Winning twice and finished 2nd Twice. Ok Corral has also had 2 Chase Wins from 3 attempts and with that kind of record is the sign of a champion in waiting in my opinion and the price I took is a bit Slim but I’m happy enough to take it. Hopefully the going doesn’t become too testing with rain forecast to arrive during day one and two.
Now we will pass the baton on to our guest bloggers for the Festival starting with Chris Price….
.Chris Price –
Good Man Pat – 4.40 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase
Like many, I prefer to follow the trends with all the Festival handicaps, and one that ticks many boxes is the Alan King trained Good Man Pat. He originally caught my eye when running a fine race in defeat behind Bags Groove in the Pendil last month and arrives here off a fair mark of 139. Four recent winners of this race had contested a Graded chase last time out, while six of the last ten winners also had no more than four runs over fences at this stage of their careers. Another trend ticked is that all bar Hunt Ball in the past decade had won no more than twice over fences, more positive news for this gelding of Gold Well, alongside winning form on testing ground. It would be of no surprise if his current price of 14/1 shrinks by the time they get to post.
Brendan Powell –
2.10 – I love Glen Forza in the Arkle. Unusual preparation starting at 3 miles. Then 2 and a half at Kempton. But his jumping is exemplary and was so good at Sandown. Us and them has a cracking ew chance in the same race.
5.30 – Whisperinthebreeze has a great ew chance in the 4 miler. Jumped for fun at Leopardstown and looks tailor made with one of the best amateurs Finny Maguire on board. I think he’ll outstay Ok corral
Lee Mckenzie –
CHELTENHAM 2019 daily thoughts by talkSPORT2’s Lee McKenzie – there’s extensive live coverage from the course throughout the week and commentary on the first six races on talkSPORT2 every day(DAB or Online)
As I see it, the key to the Champion Hurdle(3.30) is the 7lb mares’ weight allowance, especially as Buveur D’Air’s form isn’t as solid as you would hope for in a horse trying to land the race treble. He sets the standard in the race, but APPLE’S JADE has improved this season and is capable of demolishing the best in Ireland over a variety of trips, so she’s the one for me.
Some have questioned her Cheltenham record, and it isn’t as good as it might be, but she doesn’t strike me as being a course-dependent type. Laurina – a much bigger, stronger individual – also receives the weight, and has huge potential, but there is a possible issue over the drop to two miles and in any case I prefer to see the form in the book.
In the Arkle(2.10), HARDLINE should go well at a price even though it might appear that he will need a longer trip in the long run. He has recent form at the minimum distance, but there will be plenty of give in the ground on the first day and stamina will be crucial.
The Ultima(2.50) is one of my favourite races of the week, but COO STAR SIVOLA has been laid out for a second successive win in this race all season, and his previous Festival form is there for all to see. I wouldn’t be worried about a relatively lacklustre season so far – it’s all about this race and he will be expected to run another big one.
Final Word with Rich –
A big thank you to the guys for their time to do this for us & we really appreciate their thoughts over the next four days, so not being one to beat around the bush…
3.30… Champion Hurdle… 2m 87yds…
With everyone all over the first 3 in the market, I thought I would look at the forgotten horse that nobody has mentioned… Espoir D’allen… Having won 7 runs from 8 hurdle starts and was 4 from 5 last season before missing the festival. Returned at Naas, winning on return then landing a Grade 3 at Limerick. Was last seen winning at Naas by 2 & 1/2 lengths from Wicklow Brave in a Grade 3 2m hurdle. 7 from 8 over 2m, 3 from 3 over 2m this season. Has won a Grade 2 & 2 Grade 2 contests this season… OUTSIDER!
4.50… Close Brothers Novice Chase… Class 1 Listed… 2m 4f 44yds
Roaring Bull… 2 wins and 1 place from 5 chase runs this season. Landed a Fairyhouse Beginners Chase at the 3rd attempt over 2m 5f on January 1st having improved for each run. A 4th of 7 at Thurles in a Class 1 Handicap Chase 2m 5f on January 20th before heading to Naas on February 9th to land a Class 1 2m 4f Handicap Chase by 14 lengths when last seen… Each Way
That is everything for you today folks, lets hope we can kick off the festival the right way… See you tomorrow…
All the Best – The Cheltenham Blog team….