Day One Cheltenham Festival Preview

13:30 - Fakir D'oudairies

The first race of the festival and the day is the Grade 1 Supreme Novices Hurdle over 2 miles and 87 yards and in this hot contest we have gone for Fakir D'oudairies to get us off to a nice start.

This Joseph O'Brien trained four year old is the youngest horse in the field and with that gets the four year old an eight pound allowance from the rest of the field, that we think in the soft ground it will make all of the difference.

The gelding will have to give a career best to win this but is very much capable of doing so. His first run of the season was in a 22 runner maiden at Cork and he went on to win showing plenty of ability.

He then backed that up when coming to Cheltenham to give his young trainer his first win at the track when the four year old blitzed the field in a Grade 2 over an extra furlong than today.

Has a great chance at a fair price.

14:10 - Glen Forsa

The second race of the day is the Grade 1 Arkle Trophy Novices Chase over 2 miles and in the first race of the 2019 festival over fences we have gone for Glen Forsa to land the spoils.

This Mick Channon trained seven year old will take all the beating on Tuesday off the back of his latest victory in the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices Chase.

The gelding is now three out of three over fences and beating Kalashnikov last time out in such impressive style see's him at the top of the market for a reason.

14:50 - Up For Review and Mister Whitaker

The first handicap contest of the four day meeting see's the Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase over 3 miles 1 furlong and we have two selections in this with Up For Review and Mister Whitaker.

Up for Review for Willie Mullins is a really strong novice hurdler who has won two out of his six chase starts and placed in another two.

Last time out at Gowran Park he was superb finishing a close third in behind two better horses and that form looks strong. Soft ground brings this 10 year old into the equation.

Mister Whitaker could land a quick-fire double on the day for trainer Mick Channon and has previous Cheltenham form winning the Close Brothers Handicap last year on the Tuesday.

He started his season off well at Carlisle with a nice win but since then has not managed to be at the same standard. This will be his first time stepping up to 3 miles and from his Dam's side he is bred for this trip.

15:30 - Buveur D'Air

The feature race of the day see's the third Grade 1 of the day in the Champion Hurdle over 2 miles and we have gone for the winner of the race over the last 2 years with Buveur D'Air.

This Nicky Henderson trained superstar has been emphatic during his career over hurdles winning numerous Grade 1s and only finishing second at Christmas ending his 11 race unbeaten streak.

He was brilliant on his seasonal return against Samcro at Newcastle in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth but then, as said, he was pipped on the line by stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

He got back on track at Sandown last time out in a listed contest but his Cheltenham form is the real thing to shout about and now bidding for his third Champion Hurdle in a row he will take all the beating.

16:10 - Benie Des Dieux

One of our bankers of the week comes in the Grade 1 Mares Hurdle over 2 miles 4 furlongs and the Willie Mullins trained Benie Des Dieux is our selection.

This eight year old mare has not been seen at all this season and will be having her first start in this Grade 1 fixture which could come across as a negative, but connections have been overly impressed by the work this horse has done at home.

Last year this mare ran on well to take this race beating Champion Hurdle favourite Apple's Jade and after that went on to land another Grade 1 at Punchestown

Anything near that form on Tuesday will see her be a back to back winner of this race.

16:50 - Riders Onthe Storm

The penultimate race of the day see's the Listed Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase where a strong field goes to post and we have gone with Riders Onthe Storm.

The T J Taffe trained six year old looks to have a really strong chance off the back of his latest run and how progressive this gelding has been on all three starts this season.

This novice has took well to chasing this year and at Punchestown over Christmas where he finished a strong third behind some smart horses in a Grade 1 contest and then last time out backed that up by winning a decent chase contest.

He really does have strong claims if progressing like he has all season.

17:30 - Ballyward

The final race of the day is the National Hunt Challenge Cup over 3 miles 7 1/2 furlongs and we have gone for Ballyward to land the Grade 2 Contest.

This Willie Mullins trained seven year old looks to be a really impressive gelding who has not done a lot wrong this season and although has not ran over a distance this long, looks like he will handle the step up in distance.

He made his seasonal return at Punchestown where he was just pipped on the line over 3 miles 1 furlong and then he backed that up with a good win at Navan in a Grade 3 with the second place that day going on to frank that form.

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