The curtain raising Cheltenham Roar will be missing but we should still be in store for a typically competitive Supreme Novices’ Hurdle which kicks off the 2021 Cheltenham Festival where Willie Mullins will be aiming for a record extending 7th victory.
Appreciate It is the Willie Mullins’ Hot favourite after a faultless season including 2 Group 1’s and strong course form thanks to his victory in last season’s Champion Bumper.
Leading the English challenge is Metier for Harry Fry who would be of great interest should we see testing conditions.
Our selection is Soaring Glory who was very impressive when winning the Betfair Hurdle and should go very close if repeating that performance.
Favourites hold a good record in the Arkle with 6 winning favourites in the last year. For many supporters, Shiskin is the most exciting horse to be running this week and with Energumene a late non-runner this should be an easy win for the favourite.
Allmankind hasn’t done anything wrong this year and deserves to be 2nd favourite but his jumping can be a worry and in no race is jumping more crucial than in the Arkle.
The first Handicap of the Festival and this certainly looks more competitive than the opening 2 races.
Novices’ have a strong record in the race and it would be no surprise to see HappyGoLucky continue that trend. He won well at Cheltenham on his last run and comes here with a lot of positives.
At big odds Nietzsche can not be ignored. He has yet to win this season but always runs well at Cheltenham and this looks a perfect race for him and will enjoy the big field of 20+ runners.
The feature race on Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival, the Champion Hurdle is the highlight of the week for many. Honeysuckle is the favourite, receiving a Mares allowance and beating all before her in Ireland this season. Last season’s winner Epatante is back to defend her crown but she was poor when last season at Christmas and would be a risky selection.
Goshen is our pick. He was the hard luck story last year, when falling at the last Hurdle in the Triumph Hurdle but looked back to his best at Wincanton last month.
9 of the 13 runnings of the Mares Hurdle have been won by Willie Mullins and we expect him to make it 10 today with Concertista. A runaway winner of the Mares Novices’ at the Festival last year, she has improved again this season with two easy victories in Ireland.
The main danger looks to be Roksana who was a fortunate winner of this in 2019, the worry would be the trip, with the 2 mile 4f potentially on the short side.
One of the hardest races of the whole week to find the winner, this Handicap Hurdle for four year olds usually goes to an unexposed type and not many are likely to improve more than Houx Gris. Since arriving from France, he’s only made the one appearance when 3rd in a Grade 1 in January. He looks to be on a good handicap mark and should go close.
At bigger odds, Her Indoors should not be overlooked. A Listed winner when last seen, she’ll need to improve to get involved here but should handle the predicted soft ground.
This has been the target for Galvin all season and it shouldn’t put anyone off that he has not raced since his easy victory here in October. This will be his first time over 3 miles but pedigree suggests there’s no concern he will stay the trip.
Ben Pauling trained the winner of this race in 2019 and has a similar type running in Nestor Park. He has a lot to find on ratings but this new trip may bring out enough improvement for him to be involved.