Hello and Welcome to Arseonlineracing. This is a 100% independent racing website with NO affiliate links. Run by 2 racing enthusiasts from either end of the British Isles, Charlie hails from Glasgow while Rich is from the Isle of Wight… Miles apart but united by the sport of kings!

Welcome to Day One of our coverage of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival from Prestbury Park. This week Charlie & Rich are joined by regular contributors Chris Price & Jamie (Aka @Glen_Colt).
Chris is the author of the National Hunt Diaries, while Jamie is a regular helping us out during the big racing events for the past couple of seasons….

We are also running a Twitter Poll, for the 4 days with a site NAP, it’s called The Peoples Nap & with each member picking their best pick of the day & you guys voting for the NAP, so get involved & vote! The poll can be found on Rich’s Twitter account @FunkyAOL

As with normal blogs, Charlie will lead the way with Chris & Jamie in the middle & Rich bringing up the rear!

The going at Cheltenham is – SOFT

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Charlie –

Supreme Novice Hurdle – Grade 1-  2m 87y 
The opening race of the Festival begins with a field of 16 competing to become the best Novice Hurdler, this is normally a competitive race and the last 20 years has seen the Irish bred runners win on 10 separate occasions, with French bred runners winning 5 times in same period including 3 out of the last 5 renewals.Normally the winner of this race comes from the 1st 3 in the market and with Asterion Forlonge and Shiskin both joint favourites I feel these two will provide the winner.

Asterion is trained by Willie Mullins and has yet to be beaten, having won a PTP race at Oldtown over 2m 4f beating Assemble by 6 lengths, when trained by Derek O’connor. Moved to Willie Mullins and made rules debut at Thurles on the 21st November last year when beating Watergate Lady by 3/4 of a length over 2m. Was sent out to Naas on the 5th January this year and beat Pencilfulloflead by 10 lengths over 1m 7f and 190y. Latest race for Asterion Forlonge was on the 2nd February this year at leopardstown when beating Easywork by 9 and 1/2 lengths over 2m.

Shishkin has a similar profile having won a PTP at Lingstown over 3m beating Apple Rock by 8 lengths on the 25th November 2018 when with trainer R James. Moved to Nicky Henderson’s and made rules debut at Kempton on the 16th March 2019 when beating Certainly Red by 8 lengths over 2m in a Class 5 National Hunt Flat Race. Next run came at Newbury on the 18th December in a Class 4 over 2m and 69y and Shishkin fell after misjudging the 2nd. Returned to Newbury on the 15th January to race over 2m 69y in another Class 4 on Heavy ground and beat Shakem Up’Arry by 11 lengths. More recently was sent to Huntingdon to race in a Class 1 listed race over 2m 3f 137y and beat Shan Blue by 11 lengths.

Verdict – Shishkin – Although had a blip when falling at Newbury has shown a great attitude in both starts since and has several gears under the hood. I feel there will be a scrap for an early lead and Nico will hold Shishkin up behind the leading pair before pressing the button.

Arkle Chase – Grade 1 over 1m 7f 199y 

This is the 2nd race on the card and is just as competitive as the opener. In the last 20 years The Arkle has been won by French Bred Runners on 8 separate occasions including 4 of the last 5 renewals. Irish bred Runners have won 7 times since 2000 and only once from last 5 renewals. Notebook and Fakir D’Oudairies are both at the head of the market and favourites have a 50% success rate in this race having won 6 times from last 12 renewals.

Fakir D’Oudairies has won twice over fences and has placed 2nd in the only other outing over the larger obstacles. With the wins coming at Navan on the 10th of November when beating Melon by 3 lengths over 2m 1f. Next win came at Fairyhouse on the 1st of December last year, when landing the Group 1 Drinmore Novice Chase over 2m 4f beating Ronald Pump by 22 lengths. Was sent to Leopardstown to race in another Group 1 over 2m 1f and finished 2nd to Notebook who won by 1 and 1/2 lengths.

Notebook has a similar profile to Fakir, although has the upper hand being undefeated over Fences and having beaten Fakir before at Leopardstown.
Notebook started the winning sequence with a 2 and 3/4 length victory over Éclair  De Beaufeu over 2m and 40y at Punchestown on the 15th October. Next win came at PunchesTown again, in the Grade 2 Craddockstown Novice Chase over 2m 40y on the 16th November and beat Moon Over Germany by 5 lengths.
Notebook was then sent to Leopardstown on the 26th December to race in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase over 2m 1f and beat Fakir D’Oudairies by 1 and 1/2 lengths. Notebook returned to Leopardstown on the 1st February to race in the Irish Arkle Novice Chase over 2m 1f and beat Cash Back by 3/4 of a length.

Verdict– Notebook (Nap) – For me I can’t see Fakir overturn the form shown when last meeting Notebook and being unbeaten swings this race in Notebooks favour, I fully expect these 2 to fight it out and come home in the first 2.

Chris – 

The talk is nearly over, as we prepare for the finest week in sport, once again I’ll be keeping faith in some trusted key trends and have got 3 selections on the opening day that I believe can give us a little value. (Prices correct as of Monday)

1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle

Fiddlerontheroof – An impressive winner of the Tolworth Hurdle last time out, Fiddlerontheroof arrives here ticking several key trends. A grade 1 winner, with an official rating of 154 ticks two boxes straight off, as does having at least four starts over hurdles.
The forecast overnight rain should ensure the ground is to his liking, and a current price of 7/1 seems more than reasonable, for all that this looks a red-hot renewal.

4.50 Nothern Trust Company Novices Handicap Chase

Hold The Note – I always look for a horse who has had usual three of four starts over fences heading into this. With connections of Hold The Note also landing this race two years ago, it’s safe to assume he’s been laid out after a very good second in the Grade 2 Hampton Chase in January.
Indeed three of the past four winners ran in a graded chase last time out, with twelve from fifteen either winning or finishing runner-up on their previous start. It’s also a contest which seems to favour those at the top of the betting, with those at single figures taking nine of the past fifteen renewals.
He’s been well supported in recent days, but there is still some 15/2 out there if you shop around.

5.30 National Hunt Challenge Cup Chase

Lord Du Mesnil – The Richard Hobson trained charge has taken giant strides this winter, with a stamina test on testing ground his forte. His experience also shouldn’t be conceived as a negative, with half of the winners over the past decade running at least ten times over fences before success here.
Since it was made a conditions race instead of a handicap in 2014, four winners have landed this off an official rating of 150+, with the services of solid amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen an obvious plus today.
He’s not been lost in the betting at a price of 7/1, but like the previous race, there have been multiple (seven) winners this decade at single-figure odds.

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Jamie – 

1:30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle –
Selection: Shiskin

The race we’ve all been waiting for as the Cheltenham roar sends the Supreme Novice runners on their way. It’s a typically open looking Supreme with Joe & Marie Donnelly owning the two horses at the head of the market, Asterion Forlonge & Shiskin.
I am going to plump for the latter as he has really impressed me this season. The main
attributes needed to win this two-mile contest are speed, slick accurate hurdling, travel well and stamina to get up the famous hill. Shiskin looks to have all the boxes ticked. Crucially the seven barrows inmate handles soft going, so don’t be put off if the rain falls on Prestbury Park.
There are many dangers, although I think Shiskin is the one they all must beat.

2:10 – Racing Post Arkle Novices Chase –
Selection: Fakir
D’Oudairies (NAP)
Always one of the most enthralling races of the week is the flat to the mat nature of the Arkle. Ireland hold a strong hand in this year’s renewal and the one that is on my lips for this race is Fakir D’Oudairies.
Joseph O’Brien’s inmate needs to improve a few pounds; however, he looks as if he is being trained specially for this race. Last seen when second over two miles at Leopardstown’s Christmas festival when he was just behind Notebook (the favourite
for this race).
Before that he had won the Drinmore at Fairyhouse, putting in a spectacular round of jumping and was matching the highly rated Samcro until he lost his jockey at the second last fence.
This horse holds every chance if he turns up with his A game. My nap of the day.

4:10 – Close Brothers Mares Hurdle – Selection: Stormy Ireland (E/W)
This race revolves around the big match up between Benie Des Dieux & Honeysuckle. Leaving many punters to wonder, who would be a good e/w bet?
I think the answer lies here with that man Willie Mullins again. Stormy Ireland is appropriately named after all the bad weather we have all been experiencing and she left some good mares well behind when winning at Punchestown last month. So, we
know she is in fine fettle. We also know that her trainer has an unbelievable record in this race since its inception in 2008.
Only three other trainers have beaten Mullins in this contest. Stormy Ireland was runner up last year and it wouldn’t be a massive surprise
if she were to place again. She looks an outstanding each way play here and should give you a good run for your cash.

Rich – 

Thanks guys, lets get cracking…. I have 2 for you today…

1.30 Supreme Novice Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 87yds….

Asterion Forlonge – Made debut at Thurles on November 21st in a 2m NHF race, winning by 3/4’s of a length before switching to Hurdles on January 25th at Nass. Asterion made a winning hurdles debut in a 2m Maiden by 10 lengths from Pencilfulloflead, who was a next time out winner in a 2m 6f Maiden Hurdle by some 12 lengths at Punchestown.
Asterion made it 3 wins from 3 starts under rules, when landing the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle over 2m on February 2nd by 9 & 1/2 lengths from Easywork.
Trainer Willie Mullins has targeted this route before when landing the race with Klassical Dream, Vantour & Champagne Fever!

2.10 Arkle Stats….

Willie Mullins has had 4 of the last 5 winners with Nicky Henderson winning the other with Altior. Willie Mullins runs Cash Back & Bapaume.

4.10 Mares’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 4f….

Benie Des Dieux – Winner of this race back in 2018 when beating Midnight Tour by 1/2 a length and was 3 lengths clear last season when falling at the last in this race with the win looking assured before Roksana went on to land the odds
Benie won twice in May landin the rade 1 Punchestown Mares’ 2m 4f Hurdle before heading to France to land the 3m 1f Garde 1 Grande Course De Hailes D’auteuil Hurdle by 6 lengths from De Bon Coeur at Auteuil.
has had one run since & that was on January 23rd at Gowran in a Grade 2 2m 4f Galmoy Hurdle, winning by some 21 lengths from Penhill. She is the ODDS ON Fav & the one to beat….
So step forward Honeysuckle, the Mare is 7 wins from 7 runs over hurdles but this is her first taste of the Cheltenham Festival. She landed her first Grade 1 back in April 2019 when landing the 2m 4f Mares’ Novice Hurdle Championship Final by 5 & 1/2 lengths to make it 4 wins from 4 starts. Honeysuckle returned on November 12th beating Easygame by 11 lengths in a 2m 4f Fairyhouse Hurdle on the way to landing the 2m 4f Hattons race Hurdle at Fairyhouse from Bacardys by 9 lengths, she has also added Punchestown to the winners list when dropping back in trip to 2m to land the Irish Champion Hurdle on February 1st by 1/2 a length from Darvers Star…
Who WINS? I quite like the Reverse Forecast!

That is everything for you today folks, we hope you enjoy our musings & we look forward to a fantastic festival….

Please bet responsibly…

All the best – The Arseonlineracing Team 

Pictures – All except Gate – Cheltenham RC Twitter Account

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