David Mullins' Cheltenham Festival Day One Tips
It's the start of a great week at the Cheltenham Festival and David Mullins, a multiple Grade 1 winning jockey now retired from the saddle, uses all his experience to guide you through with his race by race guide to the biggest week in the National Hunt racing calendar, starting with Champion Hurdle day and the supporting card for Tuesday at Cheltenham.
Supreme Novices' Hurdle 1.20pm Tuesday- Appreciate It
For the past few weeks I was really fancying Ballyadam for this, but changing yards so close to the festival just isn't for me and I now can't see past Appreciate It.
His form is simply the strongest in this and the small field is a big bonus for him as Paul Townend can dominate this now from the front and turn this into the stamina test he wants. I don't like the British form as it's tied into handicaps and as I've learned several times at Cheltenham, handicap form doesn't win Grade One's. Appreciate It to get favourite backers off to a good start.
Back Appreciate It at 5/4 with Ladbrokes
Arkle Novices' Chase 1.55pm Tuesday- Captain Guinness
I was gutted when I saw Energumene taken out here as for a long time I've fancied this horse for the Arkle. Shishkin should be winning this as he is the best of them, but Captain Guinness can grab a place.
Shishkin is clearly the best of these, but I could never back a horse at 1/2 in a novice chase at Cheltenham. There is always the chance of chaos and I'd be much happier backing one without the favourite or each way in this. Captain Guinness hasn't shown how good he is yet this season and I'd fancy him to chase home Shishkin at least if they drop him in off the pace. He's a talented horse in his own right.
Back Captain Guinness each way at 9/1 with 888
Ultima Handicap Chase 2.30pm Tuesday - Happygolucky
I know Happygolucky is the obvious one, but I loved his win last time and he takes the world of beating in this.
I love horses coming from the Martin Pipe going chasing and Happygolucky ran a great race in that last year when finishing a brave fourth. He has only improved over fences and his course form last time is another massive bonus. Of course he's short enough for this, but he's also the best horse and David Bass gets on very well with him. Barring an accident he should go very close.
Back Happygolucky at 7/2 with Bet365
Champion Hurdle 3.05pm Tuesday - Honeysuckle
As I said at the #racehour preview night, I was bowled away by Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle and I really struggle to see her beaten.
It can't be stressed enough how huge that performance was. To take it on three hurdles out at Leopardstown is very brave and she just never stopped galloping. She will stay and has shown now she has the pace for 2 miles as well, she has it all. I just don't see the likes of Goshen or Abacadabras worrying her, and Epatante is maybe hard to trust this season too after her problems. I'm really looking forward to seeing James Du Berlais in this as his work has been good, and a good run here will be a big hep to him especially with the Arkle in mind next season.
Back Honeysuckle at 2/1 with Paddy Power
Mares Hurdle 3.40pm Tuesday - Minella Melody
This race looks a straight battle between Concertista and Roksana to me, but I think Minella Melody could run well at the big odds the bookmakers are offering too.
I'm a big fan of Concertista and I still think she will take a lot of stopping in this, but Roksana is a big threat and it was very interesting to hear Dan Skelton say that this pretty much became the target once Honeysuckle changed to the Champion Hurdle. I'm a big believer in horses being aimed a long time at races at the festival. There is very little between them, but if I had to pick one of them I would stick with Concertista on her raw ability alone. Minella Melody is an each way option though as she had a very tough time in front at Leopardstown and I was amazed with how she kept going. If she got her own way up front she could go well.
Back Minella Melody each way at 28/1 with Bet365
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 4.15pm Tuesday - Saint Sam
This is as tough a handicap as you'll find, but Saint Sam looks a real handicapper to me and has the class to win this.
I'm a big fan of Youmdor, but I'm not sure how much he'll love this as he's a big raw horse, and the opposite can be said for Saint Sam. He on the other hand is a tough horse, who has been settling better at home and should take Paul Townend all the way around comfortably enough in this. He brings some very strong form into this and I think he's a great price to win.
Back Saint Sam at 11/2 with Boyles
National Hunt Chase 4.50pm Tuesday - Galvin
As I said with Roksana I love when a horse has been aimed at a festival race and Galvin is exactly that. He should take a bit of stopping here.
I won a Grade 2 a few years back on Next Destination and while I like him as he jumps very well and will stay, I think Galvin's younger legs might get him on top in that tussle. I don't think Escaria Ten is good enough and I don't like how Lord Royal has been finishing out his races this season, I think he might be a bit weak yet and will improve a lot for time. This has been Galvin's aim since last season and I'm more than happy to stick with him.
Back Galvin at 9/4 with BetVictor
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