Day One Cheltenham Festival Preview

Cheltenham Festival Race
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 13:30
3
Paul Townend

Asterion Forlonge

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 155

The Willie Mullins trained Asterion Forlonge has sprung out of nowhere this season for the Cheltenham hall of fame trainer and looks a leading contender in this event.

The unbeaten six year old could be the only horse entering the contest that has never been beaten with him landing his sole point to point in 2018 and since then landing his bumper and two runs over timber.

He is a gelding that has gone under the radar for Mullins who has a superb record in this contest winning five of the last 13 renewals of the Grade One.

This season over hurdles he has shown a superb attitude, winning at Naas on his jumps debut seeing off a decent Gordon Elliott trained runner who has since franked the form.

From just the one run over flights he headed to the Dublin Racing festival at Leopardstown in the Grade One Pharma Novice Hurdle and caused a shock when taking the race.

He saw off some of the elite in the novice hurdling division this season and off the back of that run he firmly enters calculations showing a gritty and determined nature that he will need up the hill at Cheltenham.

The owners also field the favourite in the Supreme with Shishkin but for us he looks to be much better value at his price.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
18/03/22CHL26.5GS11-107
05/02/22LEO24.5Y11-104
26/12/21KEM24Sft11-10F
05/12/21PUN20.5Y/Sft11-12UR
30/04/21PUN21Y11-101
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 13:30
6
Barry Geraghty

Chantry House

J:
 
Barry Geraghty
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 140

Chantry House has been a horse we have followed for a long time in his career since landing a smart bumper at Warwick in March last year which saw him beat two smart horses that have both gone on to win over hurdles.

He made his hurdles debut at Cheltenham just doing enough on the day to win comfortably up the hill and that race has seen second win a Grade Two and third and fourth both go on to win since.

Having only one other start before he heads into the Supreme he went to Newbury and ripped apart a decent field winning fairly well held and he looks to be a very improving type.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
18/03/22CHL26.5GS11-10PU
29/01/22CHL25.5Gd11-61
26/12/21KEM24Sft11-10PU
07/11/21SAN24GS11-81
09/04/21AIN25GS11-41
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 14:10
7
Rachael Blackmore

Notebook

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 158

The leading fancy in the betting and has been for sometime is one of Henry De Bromhead's big chances of the week with Notebook who is unbeaten over fences this season.

Starting in October the six year old headed to Punchestown for his first start over the bigger obstacles and saw off a nice Gigginstown horse that has since franked the form.

The gelding off the back of that stepped into a Grade Two and again blew the field away in great style and next on the agenda was the Christmas festival at Leopardstown.

He went into the Grade One Novice Chase and in a field with Laurina and Fakir D'oudairies he rose to the challenge to again win by a comfortable margin.

Keeping his run of wins going he stepped into his toughest contest at the Dublin Racing Festival in the Grade One Arkle Novice Chase where him and Cashback went toe to toe and he managed to get up on the line.

He sets the form standard and if not getting to excited looks the one to beat.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
27/07/22GAL22.5Gd10-11PU
03/07/22TRM22Gd11-103
08/04/22AIN21GS11-10UR
12/03/22NAV16Sft11-103
23/01/22THU20.5Gd/Y11-103
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 14:50
1
David Bass

Vinndication

J:
 
David Bass
T:
 
Kim Bailey
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 159

The first big handicap of the 2020 Cheltenham festival sees us have two selections and the first one is the favourite for Kim Bailey with Vinndication who looks to be a graded horses in a handicap to us.

This seven year old has been a solid recruit for the talented yard winning his only point to point and bumper before he extended that when taken over hurdles winning all three of his hurdle contests.

In November 2018 he was sent over the larger obstacles and again took to the task well winning his first two races at Carlisle and Ascot before being entered into the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices Chase at Sandown and being firmly put in his place by the superstar duo of Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation.

He went to the festival after that and again in black type company was outclassed in the JLT Novices Chase finishing fifth of 10 runners.

This season he has been campaigned very lightly only running once but it came in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot over three miles and that step up in trip seemed to bring some huge improvement out of him and he heads here fresh.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/04/21AIN24.5GS11-712
18/03/21CHL24GS11-106
28/11/20NBY26Gd11-11UR
31/10/20WET24Sft11-42
10/03/20CHL25Sft11-124
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 14:50
15
Harry Skelton

Cobra De Mai

J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 8
Weight: 10-9
OR: 142

Our second selection in the Ultima Handicap is a big outsider in Cobra De Mai who has won over a furlong further at Cheltenham in the past and if getting back to anywhere near his best has a live chance.

The Dan Skelton trained eight year old has been raced frequently this season not looking anywhere near his best finishing fifth and sixth in his last two events which are similar contests to this.

Because of those lesser performances he has been given a very handy mark by the handicapper that now makes him an attractive bet knowing he stays the trip and can handle the hill.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
02/04/22CHP23.5Gd11-75
07/03/22STH24.5GS11-116
02/02/22LEI20Gd11-44
26/12/21MAR27.5Sft11-106
04/12/21WET24GS11-52
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 15:30
2
James Bowen

Call Me Lord

J:
 
James Bowen
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-10
OR: 157

What should be the feature race on the day one card at Cheltenham this season does not look to be the best renewal of the event and with that in mind we have looked for some value in a big fielded Champion Hurdle.

Nicky Henderson fields five on the day and Call Me Lord for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede has many key attributes and stats that give him a huge chance in this one.

The seven year old this season has not finished outside the top two all season with figures of 212 and his win came over course and distance in the Grade Two international, staying on strongly up the hill.

Course form at the festival is a huge positive and we believe this gives him a huge chance in conditions he should revel in.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
23/04/22SAN20Gd11-113
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-0PU
05/02/22SAN23.5GS11-66
15/01/22KEM21Sft11-123
04/01/22HER16GS10-12PU
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 16:10
1
Paul Townend

Benie Des Dieux

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 9
Weight: 11-5
OR: 162

Arguably one of the greatest mares that Willie Mullins has ever owned and after last year's nightmare when falling at the last she has the chance to put things right.

Benie Des Dieux is a very versatile nine year old that should be nine from nine for her trainer but instead has eight clearcut wins for her trainer which include four Grade One successes.

She landed this race back in 2018 beating the then superb Apple's Jade with ease and although falling at the last in this contest last year she would have bolted up again.

She has only had one run this season at Gowran Park, which is more than she did the season before on her lead up to Cheltenham, and she got off the mark in style when landing the Grade Two Galmoy Hurdle by 21 lengths.

That was over three miles showing that she stays further than this race and that is exactly what you need when going up the hill and she is looked at as one Ireland's big bankers of the week.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/03/20CHL20Sft11-52
23/01/20GOW24Sft/Hy11-31
18/05/19AUT25.5VSft10-61
04/05/19PUN20Gd/Y11-71
12/03/19CHL20Sft11-5F
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 16:50
2
Jonathan Burke

Hold The Note

J:
 
Jonathan Burke
T:
 
Mick Channon
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 145

Our first fancy in the second handicap of the afternoon at Prestbury Park is the top weighted Hold The Note for Mick Channon, who landed this race with Mister Whitaker two years ago.

The six year old son of Jeremy has been a very consistent horse for the yard starting this season over fences after being a respectable gelding over hurdles.

He went to Ludlow in November and finished third in a decent Beginners Chase that looked a perfect race to introduce him to the bigger obstacles.

He then went to Kempton where he was unfortunately pulled up when looking like he could go close in the Novices Handicap after a horse falling in front of him hampered his progress and ultimately ruined his race.

Last time out he gave a career best performance that has seen him get this high handicap mark when a clear second at Warwick in a Grade Two and that is some of the best form on offer

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/05/22KEL23.5GF11-124
18/02/22KEL23.5Hy10-123
18/01/22NCS23.5GS11-13
02/01/22AYR24.5Sft11-1PU
10/04/21AIN25GS10-12PU
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 16:50
15
Harry Skelton

Beakstown

J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 7
Weight: 11-1
OR: 139

Beakstown for trainer Dan Skelton has been targeted at this race all season long-running to a fair standard in his competitions starting at Wetherby finishing second behind the impressive Sam Spinner in a Novices Chase.

The six-year-old although a smart hurdler was always thought to come on and become a really smart chaser with his style of running and he has shown glimpses of that this season.

He headed to Newbury for his second start of the campaign and again was a nice third behind superstar Champ and last time out winner Dashel Drasher.

He ran at Cheltenham in December over the distance of the Close Brothers Race and was a solid third behind Mister Fisher and Good Boy Bobby that will both go on to challenge in the Novice Chase contests at the festival.

Dan Skelton is known for targeting handicap contests at the four-day meeting and it looks like he is doing that again with this gelding.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
01/04/22AYR20.5GS10-121
26/02/22KEM24GS10-66
29/01/22CHL20.5Gd10-72
11/01/22DON20.5GS11-42
11/12/21CHL20.5GS10-19
Cheltenham - March 10 2020
Cheltenham 17:30
9
Mr J J Codd

Ravenhill

J:
 
Mr J J Codd
T:
 
Gordon Elliott
Age: 10
Weight: 11-6
OR: 142

The final contest of the day is the newish three mile six furlong event and Ravenhill for Gordon Elliott and arguably the best amateur rider around Jamie Codd looks to have a huge chance.

This 10 year old looked originally to be going for the Kim Muir but in a late change he has been smashed in the market for this contest.

The gelding has not really had a break this season running all through the summer and straight into the winter winning two of his seven events this year and placing in another two.

He looks to want a staying contest and now being unleashed over this trip for the first time could bring the best out of him.

He fell last time out and will need to put that right but he is said to be one of Elliott's big chances this week.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/01/22FAI24Sft11-510
04/12/21AIN26Sft11-0PU
30/10/21DRO24Sft11-125
22/11/20NAV24Sft11-123
31/10/20DRO24Y11-128

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