RACING

Cheltenham 2017: Day 1 Preview

 

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Favourite(s): Melon 3-1, Ballyandy 7-2

2016 winner: Altior

Despite having just one start to his name, Melon enters the opening race at Cheltenham 2017 as slight favourite over Ballyandy. The five-year-old, ridden by Ruby Walsh and trained by Willie Mullins, won his sole race at Leopardstown at the end of January.

Ballyandy, home to the father-son combination of rider Sam and trainer Nigel, has a good record in his three previous meetings at Cheltenham. Despite coming third in November last year in his previous race in Gloucestershire, he had won his first two meetings at Cheltenham and comes into the Festival on the back of a win at Newbury a month ago.

Altior is strong favourite for the __ this year after seeing off Min in 2016 for the Supreme Novices' __
Altior is strong favourite for the Arkle Challenge Trophy this year after seeing off Min in 2016 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

 

Arkle Challenge Trophy

Favourite(s): Altior 1-4

2016 winner: Douvan

Altior, trained by Nicky Henderson, is the overwhelming favourite for the Arkle Challenge Trophy following an imperious last nine meetings where he has been victorious on every occasion.

Winner last year at the Festival in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, it will take something spectacular to stop Altior winning at successive Festivals.

 

Festival Trophy Handicap Chase

Favourite(s): Singlefarmpayment 7-1, Noble Endeavor 15-2

2016 winner: Un Temps pour Tout

Trained locally in Stroud by Tom George, Singlefarmpayment has a good recent record at Cheltenham. Despite being brought down in his last meeting in Gloucestershire, the 7-1 favourite had won his previous two races at Cheltenham with both wins coming at either end of 2016.

Noble Endeavor, ridden by Davy Russell and trained by Gordon Elliott, has a mixed record at the Festival over the last two years. Kevin Sexton rode the eight-year-old to second place in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in 2015, but Jamie Codd was unable to repeat the trick in the 2016 National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup as Noble Endeavor fell and failed to finish.

 

Champion Hurdle

Favourite(s): Yanworth 5-2, Buveur D’air 4-1

2016 winner: Annie Power

Yanworth has been in sensational form, losing out just once since November 2015 across eight races. That defeat came in last year’s Cheltenham Festival as Yorkhill claimed first place in the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle, with Yanworth finishing in second.

Yanworth is narrow favourite over Buveur D'air for the
Yanworth is narrow favourite over Buveur D’air for the Champion Hurdle

 

Buveur D’air, like Yanworth, has also shown stellar form in recent meetings having won six of his last seven races. Again, similarly to Yanworth, the horse ridden by Noel Fehily missed out on victory at the Festival as he finished in third behind Altior and Min in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

 

 

David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle

Favourite(s): Limini 13-8

2016 winner: Vroum Vroum Mag

Another horse ridden by Ruby Walsh and trained by Willie Mullins, Limini is the clear favourite for the 4.10 Mares’ Hurdle. The Walsh/Mullins combination saw Limini victorious in last year’s festival, winning the Novices’ Hurdle.

 

National Hunt Challenge Cup

Favourite(s): A Genie in Abottle 4-1, Edwulf 9-2

2016 winner: Minella Rocco

A Genie in Abottle, trained by Noel Meade, is in solid form heading into the Festival, with a win at Fairyhouse in December placed either side of two second-placed finishes.

In what looks to be a close race, Edwulf joins his co-favourite A Genie in Abottle in bringing good form into the Festival. The eight-year-old, trained by Joseph P O’Brien, has been victorious in two of his last three meetings and, like A Genie in Abottle, has not yet raced at Cheltenham.

 

Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

Favourite(s): Foxtail Hill 11-2

2016 winner: Ballyalton

Last time out, Jamie Bargary rode Foxtail Hill to victory at Cheltenham at the end of January. That win was Foxtail Hill’s second consecutive first-placed finish in 2017, with the horse trained locally by Naunton-based Nigel Twiston-Davies the favourite for the final race on day one.

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