All three races look to be fascinating renewals in 2013, with short-priced favourites carrying the weight of punters’ money in each contest, although we regularly see the jollies getting turned over at a meeting where the standard of racing is first-class.
The action starts at 1.30pm with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, with the Arkle Trophy and Champion Hurdle ensuring this is an action-packed start to the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
My Tent Or Yours might sound like a Glastonbury Festival chat-up line but many Cheltenham punters will be hoping this horse gets their Festival off to a flyer. Dunguib and Cue Card are just two well-backed favourites to recently flop in the Supreme although that hasn’t stopped the six-year-old being heavily backed.
Nicky Henderson trains this impressive runner who convincingly won the Betfair Hurdle in February, finishing five lengths ahead of Cotton Mill. It’s a horse well-fancied by AP McCoy and the jockey is due a good Cheltenham after several years of struggling to get winners at the Festival.
Paddy Power are happy to take the favourite on with their quote of 7/4 and something could easily spring out of the pack to defeat him. That includes Jezki who is a best price 9/2 with Coral and has won on all of his last four starts. It all comes down to whether impressive Irish form matches up with that of the English runners.
Un Atout could end up being the class horse in the race, with the Willie Mullins five-year-old claiming a facile victory in Naas two monhs ago which will fill punters with confidence he could be the one, while Dodging Bullets runs for Paul Nicholls who had the winner of this race two years ago when Al Ferof claimed the spoils.
The general consensus is that this race is of the two-horse variety despite twelve runners being entered for the second encounter of the Festival.
Like My Tent Or Yours in the opener, Simonsig is trained by Nicky Henderson and could turn out to be the next Sprinter Sacre, especially as the trainer reports that the former is the only horse that can live with the latter during prep work.
The bookies are fearing the worst about the seven-year-old and William Hill offer a best price 4/6 about a horse that convincingly won the Neptune twelve months ago before three further victories. Can he be toppled in the Arkle?
Trainer Donald McCain believes he has the winner of the race in Overturn, an extremely versatile horse that beat Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle last year to finish second and will now go over fences for owner Graham Wylie. Paddy Power go 11/4 about the second favourite turning over the favourite for this race.
Ten horses are entered for this fascinating two-mile hurdle contest which will see a hammer and tongs battle all the way to the line. That includes four returning champions and three have a reasonable chance of victory.
Hurricane Fly claimed the prize in 2011 and the Irish horse is back for a third year. The nine-year-old will have to buck a trend if he is to reclaim the mantle of champion, although it hasn’t stopped the bookmakers from installing him as favourite once again.
Paddy Power go 2/1 about the Fly and it’s worth noting that the same bookie will refund losing bets if the Willie Mullins horse passes the post first on Tuesday.
There are plenty of other lively contenders and that includes returning champion Rock On Ruby who is probably the value each-way bet at 9/2 with Ladbrokes. The Harry Fry-trained runner was too good for them last year and it could be the same story this term.
Fry reports that the animal is in ‘awesome’ condition ahead of the race and doesn’t believe that the potentially soft ground will be a bother to a horse that couldn’t be caught twelve months ago.
Zarkandar has been heavily supported in the lead-up to the race and is a best price 7/2 to claim victory in this race, with trainer Paul Nicholls expecting him to make a big improvement on fifth place in last season’s renewal.
Meanwhile, Grandouet runs for Nicky Henderson and there was a big drift on this horse last week although the trainer reports him to be in good nick. The lack of preparation that Grandouet has had can’t be regarded as a good thing however.
Henderson also has Binocular running for him and this is a horse that surprised many people by winning in 2010 after originally being ruled out of the race. Owner JP McManus claims that the horse has lively each-way credentials and all will be revealed about a horse trading at 9/1.
Cinders And Ashes won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last year and trainer Donald McCain claims we will see the best of the horse when the line up in the Champion Hurdle, while Countrywide Flame is a 16/1 chance and we can probably rule out the three rags in the betting.