It’s here! The 2019 Cheltenham Festival is finally upon us and we have got a run down of all the best Cheltenham Festival day 1 betting tips, predictions and race previews below.
On the first day of the 2019 Festival, Buveur D’air will attempt to win his third successive Champion Hurdle but will face strong opposition from two Irish mares. That race is the highlight of a competitive first day at the festival, but which horses are contenders for all seven races? See our Cheltenham day 1 tips below to find out!
The first selection in our Cheltenham Festival day 1 tips is Angels Breath following the loss of Elixir de Nutz who is now a non-runner. Nicky Henderson is due to run two in the race but Angels Breath looks his better chance, and he confirmed that at a recent Cheltenham preview night. The former favourite was beaten on his recent start but that run might not have been as bad as first envisaged, with Henderson seeming relatively happy with the performance and he should come on a lot for that. He was pulling double as they went a crawl at the start, allowed the winner to get first run and a strongly run Supreme will surely allow him to settle much better.
The new Supreme Novices Hurdle favourite is Al Dancer (10/3 with Betfair), who comes into this race off the back of four straight wins over hurdles. He won the Betfair Hurdle and has also won at Cheltenham before, but we’re looking to take him on at he prices.
Amaron and Klassical Dream are the two horses Willie Mullins is expected to run in the race and both have Grade 1 form in Ireland and aren’t without a chance if they turn up.
Champion Hurdle Tip: Angels Breath to Win (9/2 with Coral)
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In the absence of previous favourites Dynamite Dollars and Le Richebourg, it would be an emotional occasion if Lalor won the Arkle Chase for trainer Kayley Woollacott. Yet after winning impressively at Cheltenham back in November, the 7-year-old gelding was exposed in softer conditions at Sandown in his previous appearance. Glen Forsa is one horse who could challenge after claiming two handicaps before winning a three-runner event at Sandown, but Hardline from the Gordon Elliott yard is one to note. Beaten by La Bague Au Roi over 2m5f in his latest appearance, Hardline seems more suited to the minimum trip having won by ten lengths or more in two previous races over about two miles.
Arkle Trophy Tip: Hardline to Win (5/1 with Betfred)
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Coo Star Sivola may attempt to repeat his 2018 triumph in this race but while he has not repeated his form of last season, some rain might help.
One horse worth noting in the first big handicap of the week is the Venetia Williams trained Calipto who received nearly a stone when beating Black Corton last time but travelled as though there may be more improvement to come. He is fairly treated at the weights while Up For Review from the Willie Mullins yard has raced in decent company this season and was a creditable third behind Invitation Only last time.
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Although Buveur D’air is hoping to complete a three-timer in the Champion Hurdle, he has appeared more vulnerable this season especially when beaten by Verdana Blue earlier in the campaign. The Nicky Henderson trained horse rarely wins by a wide margin and he soon resumed winning ways in his next race, but Irish Champion Hurdler Apple’s Jade could be a threat in this contest. The mare is unbeaten in four races this term but has won just once in three previous outings at Cheltenham. Fellow Irish raider Laurina has yet to be tested on a racecourse and won easily at last season’s Festival. She could be a very smart horse.
Champion Hurdle Betting Tip: Laurina to Win (4/1 with Paddy Power)
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Since the second staging of the Mare’s Hurdle at the Festival in 2009, Willie Mullins has won the race on nine occasions with Quevega completing a six-timer. With Apple’s Jade and Laurina expected to contest the earlier Champion Hurdle on day 1 of the 2019 Festival, 2018 winner Benie Des Dieux is expected to be firm favourite. She could be difficult to oppose despite not racing this season due to unfavourable ground. Quevega often marked her first appearance of the campaign by winning this race and Mullins regards this mare as one of his more fancied runners.
Mares Hurdle Tip: Benie Des Dieux to Win (Evs with bet365)
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The second of Tuesday’s handicaps over fences is another open contest which has been won by several lower-profile trainers in recent seasons. However, Joseph O’Brien may saddle Tower Bridge who produced his best effort to date over fences when second to the useful Duc Des Genievres at Gowran Park last month. Thirteen other horses finished behind the 6-year-old gelding that day. Another horse worth noting is Walt who beat Double Shuffle among other decent animals in a February Kempton handicap and is versatile regarding distance.
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At four miles in distance, this contest is the longest race at the Festival and was won last season by Rathvinden from the Willie Mullins stable. OK Corral has been earmarked for the 2019 renewal by Nicky Henderson and he has won both races this term over three miles, but he faces a threat from Irish raider Ballyward. He won a strong three miles novice chase at Naas during January and was helped by the fall of Discorama at the final fence and who appeared to be held at the time. Both horses are expected to renew rival, but the Mullins trained Ballyward could emerge as the stronger of the fancied horses.
National Hunt Chase Tip: Ballyward to Win (3/1 with William Hill).