Day One of the Cheltenham Festival could actually be make or break for the bookies, considering that three horses are likely to go off at odds-on, with Hurricane Fly, Sprinter Sacre and Quevega included in many a Cheltenham multiple. However, it’s the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle where it all begins
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Darlan is the big favourite for the 1.30 at Cheltenham on Tuesday, despite the fact that the horse fell at Newbury last time out. In fact, the fall doesn’t seem to put punters off, with many suggesting it would have won without that terrible stumble.
Betfred have got a fantastic offer about Darlan where they will refund losing bets if the favourite wins, while Bet Victor will give you a free £20 bet on Wednesday’s first race if you stake £20. Finally, bet365 have their Channel 4/1 offer where you get a free bet on the next race if you back a winner at 4/1 or bigger here!
As for the actual odds, the best price about Darlan is 9/2 (William Hill), while Steps to Freedom is a stand-out 15/2 (Stan James bookmaker) and as short as 6/1 in some places. Galileos Choice has been well supported, while Alan King’s Montbazon is reported to be in excellent condition ahead of the racing.
Arkle Chase Trophy
There is so much hype surrounding Sprinter Sacre following the horse’s impressive performance at Newbury which saw the price forced down from 2/1 to odds-on. Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty can’t stop themselves from raving about this fantastic specimen and odds of 10/11 (Paddy Power free bets) is the best you will now find.
Paddy deserve credit not just for going a best price about the Sprinter but also offering Arkle cashback, where losing bets will be refunded if the horse wins the second race of the Cheltenham Festival.
The Irish bookmaker usually focus their cashback offer on the Supreme, although the lack of strong favourite for this race means they have taken a gamble bigger than any of their customers will bother to do this week.
What can beat this Cheltenham hot pot? Step forward Al Ferof, who claimed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle twelve months ago, beating Sprinter Sacre in the process. The Paul Nicholls-trained charge showed plenty of guts getting up the hill a year ago and is a best price 5/2 (Ladbrokes bookmaker) to win the race.
Cue Card was the hot favourite for the Supreme in 2011 before being beaten into 4th place and out of the money, although Joe Tizzard is expecting good things from this front runner and 6/1 is the best price about the third favourite.
Festival Handicap Chase
We have a wide open contest when it comes to the third race of the Cheltenham Festival, with the Handicap Chase often throwing up a surprise result or two.
This is another race where bet365’s 4/1 offer comes into its own considering that every runner will be 4/1 or bigger and that includes co-favourites The Package and Hold on Julio.
Tullamore Dew and Our Mick are available at a bigger price and we should look out for bookies offering enhanced odds on races like this which have a wide-open look about them.
This is the moment that racing fans have been waiting for! Hurricane Fly justified odds of 3/1 twelve months ago to leave his rivals for dust and the Irish raider is back at Prestbury Park to defend his crown.
This eight-year-old is being heralded as the new Istabraq in some quarters and the price has collapsed since a comfortable win in the Irish Champion Hurdle, with Paddy Power being the most aggressive with their 10/11 about a Hurricane victory.
This is the horse that every bookmaker wants to see getting beaten and there are horses that could potentially trouble the champion. Binocular won this race two years ago and William Hill offer 5/1 that AP McCoy steers the Nicky Henderson to another triumph.
Meanwhile, Zarakandar is a five-year-old open to improvement although it will need to find an awful lot to rival the cruising speed and change of gears that Hurricane Fly possesses.
David Nicholson Mares Hurdle
The mighty Quevega could seal a lot of successful Tuesday trebles, with the Willie Mullins mare returning to Cheltenham to try and win a fourth Festival crown.
It appears as though Ruby Walsh should have few problems steering this horse to another victory, although William Hill continue to quote 4/7 about the jolly for this race.
The fact that Unaccompanied won’t run in this race simply strengthens the case of Quevega.