Horse Racing Latest Sports News Sport

Cheltenham Festival Day One Preview

The Cheltenham Festival’s four-day meeting gets underway on Tuesday, with the likes of Constitution Hill, Facile Vega and Honeysuckle all in action on a highly-anticipated opening day.

Around 280,000 spectators are expected to attend the Festival over the course of the week, all of which will have their own opinions, but we spoke to racing expert Jake Russell to help guide you through today’s races.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – 1:30

Facile Vega is the favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and for good reason. The most accomplished horse in the race, he would be odds on had it not been for a poor last showing at Leopardstown. He lost to Il Etait Temps in that one, who could be in for another big run here. While trainer Barry Connell loves unbeaten Marine Nationale.

Jake Russell: I think there is always going to be concern with Facile Vega’s last run, especially when he finished last of the completed runners. But Willie Mullins has reported he was lame after the race, and the way the race was run probably didn’t suit him at all. I think if he is all ok, he is still the one to beat.

Arkle Chase – 2:10

El Fabiolo and Jonbon are a class apart from the rest of the field. The former is arguably the better horse, while the latter is arguably the better jumper. Dysart Dynamo could throw a spanner in the works by setting an electric pace at the front.

Jake Russell: Both horses at the top of the market are classy animals and I can only seeing one of the two winning the Arkle. I like both horses, but have been on Jonbon’s side all season, so never going to change my mind. He has only been beaten by Constitution Hill at last year’s festival, so his form so far is class.

Ultima Handicap Chase – 2:50

The Ultima Handicap Chase is a tough one to call. The favourite, Corach Rambler, is 13/2 on Bet365, which tells you everything you need to know. You may as well pick names out of a hat for this one!

Jake Russell: The first handicap of the week and, as per usual, it is very hard to gauge the winner. But I really like the look of The Goffer – he won a decent pot last time out at the Dublin Racing Festival. He tackles this sort of trip for the first time, but I think this is what he needs. Davy Russell is booked to ride – a master around these parts.

Champion Hurdle – 3:30

Constitution Hill is one of the best horses in the world, let alone this race. State Man is superb, too, but should be no match for last year’s Supreme winner.

Jake Russell: Constitution Hill is excellent – the most exciting horse in training with no chinks in his armour. A slick jumper who travels so well through his races, I just can’t see him getting beat. It is most certainly a race to just sit back and watch this magnificent beast do his thing. Take nothing away from State Man – he’s clearly superb – but unfortunately living in a world with Constitution Hill.

Mares’ Hurdle – 4:10

There are plenty of critics of this race and, in particular, Honeysuckle’s inclusion in it. The defending Champion Hurdle winner has been entered into a lesser race to give her a better chance of a fairy-tale finish. But it still might not be enough, with Marie’s Rock a strong contender.

Jake Russell: I absolutely adore Honeysuckle. I’m just happy I get to see her in the flesh, one last time at Cheltenham. I can see why people are frustrated that she didn’t get to compete in the Champion Hurdle, as she’s won the last two. But, realistically, she has been at least 5lbs below her best this year, and looks like she could only finish 3rd behind two top class prospects in that one. As for the Mares’, this is probably the hottest we have had, so she will have to be on her A-game to go out with a win.

Check out our live blog here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *