Day One Cheltenham Festival Preview 2021

Cheltenham Stand
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
1
Paul Townend

Appreciate It

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
OR: 153

The Supreme Novices' Hurdle is the curtain raiser for the Cheltenham festival and with eight runners heading to post we have a win and each way selection.

We can't look past the favourite Appreciate it for Willie Mullins, with the six year old showing the best form on offer in the race to date.

He ran in four bumpers last term, finishing third on his rules debut at Fairyhouse but since then he has turned into a different animal.

He bolted up at Christmas at Leopardstown in a two and half mile bumper not seeing a rival for the last two furlongs.

At the same track he landed a Grade Two in the same form as his other win and he then went to the Cheltenham festival where he was a narrow second behind stablemate Ferny Hollow in the Grade One Champion Bumper.

Mullins has stepped him up to hurdles this season and on debut was comfortable winner at Cork and that form has been franked with the second placed horse since going on to win twice since.

Appreciate it also cemented the form line when entered into the Grade One Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas and went on to dominate a strong field by close to 10 lengths.

Last time out he further solidified himself as the best two mile novice hurdler this season, when making it three races unbeaten for the season hen landing the Grade One Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Although many think he might be better suited in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, Mullins has not been shy of putting a horse that stays well into the Supreme and he looks the one to beat off the back of his form this term.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
15/03/22CHL16.5GS11-107
16/03/21CHL16.5Sft11-71
07/02/21LEO16Sft/Hy11-121
27/12/20LEO16Sft11-121
22/11/20COR16Hy12-01
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 13:20
2
Jack Kennedy

Ballyadam

J:
 
Jack Kennedy
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 148
Days: -25

At a bigger price and our each way selection in the race is Ballyadam for new trainer Henry De Bromhead, with the gelding moving over from Gordon Elliott just a few weeks before the festival.

The six year old is a hugely exciting youngster Cheveley Park Stud after winning a three mile point to point by four lengths and being bought by the owners for a big fee.

He was seen twice last term, first time finishing third in a decent bumper at Navan before getting off the mark at the second time of asking, winning at Downpatrick by 18 lengths.

It was a breathtaking performance and he used that on his hurdles debut to get off the mark in fine style in a Maiden Hurdle at Down Royal, winning by 12 lengths.

He is a horse regarded very highly in Ireland and backed up that potential on just his second start over hurdles when landing the Grade One Royal Bond Novices' Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Since then he has been twice more at Leopardstown in Grade One events and although giving a lesser run at Christmas behind rival Appreciate it in to fourth, he bounced back last time out at the Dublin Racing Festival to finish a much closer second.

We do think the favourite is very tough to beat, but from an each way perspective this horse horse offers huge value being a black type winner at this level and showing clear speed in the later stages of his races, should see him get closer on better ground.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
18/03/22CHL17GS11-45
06/02/22LEO16Y/Sft11-1220
11/12/21CHL17GS11-35
07/11/21NAV17Gd12-02
12/10/21PUN17Gd12-0F
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 13:55
6
Nico de Boinville

Shishkin

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 164
Days: -25

The Grade One Arkle Challenge Trophy has only been left with six runners and it truly looks to be Shishkin's race to lose.

The seven year old since falling on his hurdles debut has shown bundles of ability and plenty of gears when it comes to finishing his races which have seen him land three contests in a row at Newbury, Huntingdon and of course Prestbury Park.

His win in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle has since been franked with the narrow second Abacadbras for Gordon Elliott since going on to land the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle, with third Chantry House and fourth Asterion Forlonge both going on to win on chase debut.

Shishkin could not be upstaged and on his first start over fences in November he showed the racing world just how good he is by pinging every fence and showing the turn of foot of last term, when just being nudged by Nico De Boinville and going away from the second placed Mick Pastor with ease.

On his second start over fences he kept his outstanding unbeaten run going with another faultless round of jumping in the Grade Two Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton over Christmas, seeing off Tamaroc Du Mathan by 13 lengths who has since gone on to win the Grade Two Pendil Novices' Chase easily.

Henderson's superstar last time out took his unbeaten record to three races over fences at Doncaster landing the Grade Two Lightning Novices' Chase.

He has been nothing short of superb in every race this term and going back to better ground at Cheltenham, having course form, makes him tough to beat.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/03/22CHL16Sft11-10PU
22/01/22ASC17Sft11-71
27/12/21KEM16Sft11-31
10/04/21AIN16GS11-41
16/03/21CHL16Sft11-41
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 14:30
6
David Bass

Happygolucky

J:
 
David Bass
T:
 
Kim Bailey
Age: 7
Weight: 11-1
OR: 147
Days: -25

The Grade Three Ultima Handicap Chase has been a race over the last few seasons that has been a kind event for the British and we again feel that it will stay in the UK with these two selections.

Happygolucky for superstar trainer Kim Bailey has undergone some serious market support of late for the Grade Three event on the Tuesday of the meeting.Having not ran since December, he looks to have been saved for this event with Bailey looking to keep him on a decent mark.

Last season the gelding was seen finishing a good fourth in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival, with him being hampered in the final stages and arguably could have finished much closer.

He has been sent over fences this term and has performed to a very high standard in all three of his events, showing a progressive nature and not finishing outside the top two on any run.He made his first start over the bigger obstacles at Stratford when seeing off the likeable Paint The Dream for Fergal O'Brien.

He then went to Fakenham and was a close second behind Getaway Trump who has since franked the form and last time out he got back to winning ways at Cheltenham over the Utima course and distance.

He has plenty in his favour heading into the event and punters have latched onto this which has seen his odds slashed from 25/1 into 7/2 and he looks the one to beat.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/04/21AIN25GS11-71
16/03/21CHL25Sft11-12
11/12/20CHL25.5GS11-61
17/11/20FAK21Gd11-62
29/10/20STR21GS11-41
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 14:30
3
Nico de Boinville

Pym

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Oliver Greenall
Age: 8
Weight: 11-7
OR: 153
Days: -29

With 16 runners in the race we also have another British challenger as an each way selection and although near the top of the weights, Pym for Nicky Henderson could run a big race.

The seven year old gelding in the colours of Altior has always had big potential and showed glimpses off it last season when winning at Ascot last November and then backed that up at Cheltenham in a Novices' Chase over the Ultima's course and distance.

After that he was tried in graded races like the Reynoldstown Chase and the RSA Novices' Chase and was outclassed and now he looks to be going down the handicapping route having found his level.

He made his seasonal debut this term at Sandown at the start of November in a Listed Intermediate Chase and dominated in a smart field.

Last time out he went to Newcastle in a Listed Handicap Chase over three mile and he finished an underwhelming fifth of 10 runners.

However, the form of that race does not look to bad with the fourth since winning a big fielded handicap and getting back to much nicer ground could see him run a cracker.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
03/10/21UTT23.5GS11-55
30/08/21CRT25.5Gd11-127
25/07/21UTT23.5Gd11-122
27/06/21UTT26Gd11-9PU
14/04/21CHL20.5Gd11-4PU
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
10
Rachael Blackmore

Honeysuckle

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 7
Weight: 11-3
OR: 161
Days: -45

The Champion Hurdle sees 10 runners go to post in what looks to be one of the best renewals of the race for the last few years and again we have a win and each way selection.

Honeysuckle looks to be the one to beat and has a been a star for the yard over the last two years and on all four of her starts last term had been pretty much faultless by winning twice at Fairyhouse including in the Grade One Hatton's Grace Hurdle, she then narrowly stayed on to take the Irish Champion Hurdle before landing her first Cheltenham festival winner when seeing off Benie Des Dieux in the Mares Hurdle.

Overall the Kenneth Alexander-owned six-year-old has claimed 11 wins in a row, if including her point to point race aswell and this season she has picked up from where she left off.

She headed to Fairyhouse on her seasonal debut in defence of her Hatton's Grace title and in gritty and determined fashion she managed to hold on close to the line.

Given some time to improve for that run, she then went back to Leopardstown to defend her Irish Champion Hurdle title and in emphatic style she landed the event by 10 lengths.

That was arguably one of the performances of the season and with her jumping quicker and showing clear speed over two miles, she is hard to oppose.

Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:05
2
Robbie Power

Aspire Tower

J:
 
Robbie Power
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 5
Weight: 11-10
OR: 160
Days: -45

At a much bigger price but for the same yard with Henry De Bromhead, we think the Irish trainer could have the 1-2 in this event with Aspire Tower set to run a cracker.

Aspire Tower has been a standout hurdler for the De Bromhead yard racing six times over flights since coming from the flat and landing some superb races.

Last season the gelding landed his first two races in fine style, with his second win of the season at Leopardstown in a Grade Two Juvenile event seeing him take the spoils by 18 lengths.

He went to the festival off the back of a fall at the last in a Grade One event he looked sure to go close in before going to the ground.

At the Cheltenham festival he stayed on well in the final stages to pick up second in the Triumph Hurdle, in what was a very eventful renewal of the Grade One.

This season stepping out of novice company the long term target has always been the Champion Hurdle and off the back of both his runs to date, could go close.The five year old started this term off at Down Royal in the Grade Two WKD Hurdle getting back to winning ways, seeing off Supreme Novices' Hurdle second Abacadabras.

He then went to Leopardstown over the Christmas period for the Grade One Matheson Hurdle and was a close second behind Sharjah, going from the front and giving a strong pace all the way round and still managing to power home.

It was thought that De Bromhead would give him an outing in the Irish Champion Hurdle last weekend at the Dublin Racing festival, before going to Cheltenham, but having swerved that and being sent straight to the Cheltenham festival, he will be fresher than most for the event.

We think this youngster has a huge each way chance in the event at 16/1 and with some bookmakers offering extra places, he looks a horse that will certainly run his race.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
30/04/21PUN16Y12-08
16/03/21CHL16.5Sft11-104
29/12/20LEO16Sft11-92
30/10/20DRO16.5Y/Sft11-61
13/03/20CHL17Sft11-02
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:40
2
Paul Townend

Concertista

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-5
OR: 153
Days: -46

Concertista for Willie Mullins is our selection in the Grade One Mares Hurdle with the handler looking to regain the race he has a great record in

Mullins has won nine of the last 12 renewals of this race, with the likes of Quevega, Benie Des Dieux and Vroum Vroum Mag and he thinks that Concertista is just as good, if not bette than some of those horses.

The seven year old for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede is lightly raced in Britain and Ireland, making her hurdles debut for the yard back in March 2019, when beaten a head in the Grade Two Mares Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.

Being very much a spring horse, this mare comes alive at the festival and last year having not set the world alight in Ireland, went back into the Grade Two Mares Novices Hurdle and took the event by an ever growing 12 lengths.

Having put up one of the performances of the meeting the yard, this year decided to aim her at this Grade One event and she has done nothing but improve all season.

She started her season off at Fairyhouse stepping up in trip for the first time and she saw off Minella Melody in impressive style to take the Grade Two event.

She last seen again in December at Leopardstown over 2m4f in the Grade Three Mares Hurdle and she emphatically brushed aside a smart field of mares.

Doing all this before the Spring where she has proved she comes alive is only a bonus and she looks very tough to beat.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/04/22PUN23.5Gd/Y11-3PU
18/03/22CHL20.5GS11-55
28/12/21LIM22.5Hy11-71
05/12/21COR16.5Sft11-21
01/05/21PUN20Gd/Y11-93
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 15:40
1
Jack Kennedy

Black Tears

J:
 
Jack Kennedy
T:
 
Mrs Denise Foster
Age: 7
Weight: 11-5
OR: 148

Black Tears for Denise Foster is a big each way player in this race having proven form at the Cheltenham festival and not done a lot wrong throughout this season.

She is a mare that always runs her race and last season at the Cheltenham festival took Dame De Compagnie all the way to the line in the Coral Cup, when just a narrow second.

This season she has been seen three times making her seasonal debut at Punchestown when third behind smart mare Buildmeupbuttercup and Mares Chase favourite Elimay.

The mare then went to Leopardstown at Christmas and again finished third, this time behind the favourite for this race Concertista, who blew the field away.

Getting one last run in before the festival she went to Punchestown in the Grade Three Quevega Mares Hurdle at the start of March and won the race by five lengths.

It was a perfect prep run, not taking too much out of the horse and having festival form gives her a big each way chance.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/03/21CHL20Sft11-51
01/03/21PUN20Sft10-131
29/12/20LEO20Sft11-13
15/11/20PUN18.5Hy11-13
11/03/20CHL21Sft11-22
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 16:15
4
Harry Skelton

Cabot Cliffs

J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 4
Weight: 11-6
OR: 137
Days: -27

The penultimate event on the first day of the festival is the Grade Three Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle over two miles and Cabot Cliffs for the inform Dan Skelton team looks a big player.

The four year old is one of the most experienced runners in the field which could play to his strengths, with plenty of horses running their races in the parade ring before they get to the start.

Having ran on the flat last season for Charles Hills, he was given to Skelton and sent over hurdles at Uttoxeter and made a winning start over two miles.

He then went into a Listed event at Wetherby and was well beaten by the Denise Foster trained Duffle Coat, with his tactics that day not working.

In November he headed to Cheltenham over course and distance in the Triumph trial event and was fourth of eight runners behind Duffle Coat again and Adagio, who has since won a Grade One.

The Skelton's after those runs changed tactics with the horse and it has since paid dividends with him beating Sage Advice at Warwick next time out and then last time out over the same course and distance made it back to back wins when emphatically beating the smart Heross Du Seuil.

He is a live each way player holding Listed and Graded form going back into a handicap and off 137 could still have room to improve.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/01/22UTT20Gd11-124
15/01/22KEM21Sft11-210
19/11/21ASC15.5Gd11-74
08/10/21CHP16Gd11-103
12/04/21HUN16Gd11-122
Cheltenham - March 16 2021
Cheltenham 16:50
10
Tom Scudamore

Remastered

J:
 
Tom Scudamore
T:
 
David Pipe
Age: 8
Weight: 11-6
OR: 146

The final event on day one of the Cheltenham festival is the National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices' Chase over the reduced 3m6f and Remastered for David Pipe is our fancy.

The eight year old has been a revelation this season stepping over fences this season running three times and being unbeaten in all of his events.

Pipe sent him for his chase debut at Carlisle in November and he managed to see off a good field in heavy ground over 2m4f.

This gelding has always been a stayer in the making and he was stepped up to three miles next time out and all be it in a two runner race, he could not have won any easier.

With his credentials not tested at three miles, he was sent to Ascot for the Grade Two Reynoldstown Novices' Chase over three miles last time out and in the final stages stayed on best of the rest to see off the smart Demachine to take the event.

He has proven that he is a through stayer which is vital for this race and if anymore rain was to fall it would only help his chances at a big price.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
22/01/22HAY25.5Sft10-74
18/12/21HAY25.5Sft11-132
27/11/21NBY26GS10-11F
06/11/21AIN24.5GS10-103
16/03/21CHL30GS11-65

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