Saturday’s ITV Racing Tips: Henry Gibbs Previews 9 Races from Ascot, Lingfield and Haydock
[single_affiliate_freespins id="319" ] 1:55 Ascot It’s a 1m handicap from Ascot for the fillies to…
Our Cheltenham Festival 2021 coverage gets underway with the day 1 races on Tuesday 16th March 2021. Below you will see all our Cheltenham day 1 tips for every race including the day 1 feature, the Champion Hurdle.
|1.55pm||Shishkin/Captain Guinness FC||SP|
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The curtain raiser for the Cheltenham Festival is the traditional Supreme Novices Hurdle, run over 2m. The Supreme Novices Hurdle is normally a relentless gallop from flag fall and strong stayers over the 2m trip often come to the fore. Appreciate It heads the market and rightfully so. He has done nothing wrong and holds the Irish on all known form. However, 7-year-olds don’t hold a strong record in the contest and many people will feel 2m4f would be more his trip on the spring ground. It is a very weak renewal of the race but Appreciate It has to be taken on at the price for me.
Metier is a bit of an unknown quantity but there isn’t much substance to his form and quicker ground is a concern.
I think BALLYADAM (5/1 with bet365) is the best play in the race at the prices. He won the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novices Hurdle earlier in the season before running a poor race over Christmas. He scoped dirty after that run so it’s easily forgiven. He more than returned to form when running Appreciate It close at the Dublin Racing Festival. He’s likely to improve for the quicker ground and I don’t think there will be much between him and Appreciate It at the end of the race. Therefore, from a price perspective, Ballyadam will be my play.
Selection: BALLYADAM (5/1 with bet365)
The next race is the Arkle, a novice Chase run over 2m. It is disappointing that we lost Irish star Energumene from this race last week but it still appears to be a decent contest. Shishkin heads the market, with Allmankind in as second favourite. Captain Guinness could reward each-way punters as he will appreciate the better ground here and he’s a horse that’s always been held in high regard. He was travelling well in the Supreme last season when brought down 2 out and his run last time out behind Energumene on deep ground wasn’t a bad effort at all.
However, I expect SHISHKIN to get the job done here. Allmankind will go off like a wild cat in front and I think the class of Shishkin will reel him in in the home straight. He’s a class act and has done nothing wrong over fences this season. He hasn’t beat much but he won the Supreme Novices Hurdle last season despite a lot going wrong in the race which shows the class this horse has. He can follow up by winning the Arkle just like Henderson’s 2m star Altior did.
Selection: Forecast – Shishkin 1st, Captain Guinness 2nd.
The first handicap of the week comes up next and it is a 3m Chase known as the Ultima Challenge Trophy. They’ll go fast again here front the offset and a horse with stamina assured is essential. Unexposed sorts have a decent record in the race so it’s always best to look for one that has scope to improve beyond their current handicap mark.
I do like HAPPYGOLUCKY NB (7/2 with bet365) here. He ticks a lot of boxes and he’s a horse on the upgrade. He ran in the Martin Pipe last year finishing a good fourth and that brings strong Cheltenham festival form to the table which is always key. He also proved that the big field shouldn’t be an issue. He is unexposed and his best performance to date came last time out when he powered up the same Cheltenham hill to win well. Trainer Kim Bailey has put him away since then and I presume he’s been waiting for this as he knew he has a big chance off his current mark.
Selection: HAPPYGOLUCKY (7/2 with bet365)
The feature on Day 1 is arguably the feature of the week, the Champion Hurdle ran over 2m. It is the best renewal we’ve had for several years with superstar mares Honeysuckle and 2020 winner Epatante heading the front of the market. Goshen is next up in the market after he got his campaign back on track last time out when bolting up at Wincanton. Honeysuckle was mightily impressive when winning the Irish Champion Hurdle last time out and she is a worthy market leader based on that evidence.
The only real concern for her chances here would be the 2m trip on better ground. Holding her position early on in the race will be key. Epatante needs to bounce back to form after a poor display at Kempton over Christmas and I’m sure the market will tell us a lot about how her preparation has been since then. Goshen is too short now and it’ll be some feat for him to give the mares 7lb on ground that will definitely be on the quick side for him.
I’m happy to chance one each way here and it would be ABACADABRAS EW (11/1 with bet365). He’s got better with every run this season which suggests he’s trending in the right direction. He’s been waiting for his ideal quicker ground and I’m hoping he’ll get it on Tuesday given the forecast. The fast pace will suit this hold up horse well and I can see him coming through the pack and at least running into the frame. He arguably should have won the Supreme last season as he travelled like a dream but Davy Russell by his own admission just got to the front too soon. That shows he acts around the track which is a positive and he’s a decent each-way price in what is a competitive and exciting renewal.
Selection: ABACADABRAS EW (11/1 with bet365)
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The Mares Hurdle ran over 2m4f is next up on Day 1 and last years Mares Novice Hurdle winner Concertista heads the market at around the Even money mark. She has done nothing wrong this year and goes into this contest in fine fettle. She is definitely the best of the Irish and has to be considered a worthy market leader given his performance last year and the efforts she displayed this term. Trainer Willie Mullins hasn’t got a bad record in the contest either.
However, I am happy to chance ROKSANA (3/1 with bet365) here who’s in the form of her life. She won this contest in 2019 when a fortunate winner but she has come on leaps and bounds since then. On her reappearance this season she stormed clear to win a Grade 2 by over 8L at Wetherby before mixing it with the very best over 3m in Grade 1 company next time out. She finished third that day and she’s since been back in the winner’s enclosure when winning a Mares Grade 2 hurdle at Ascot last time out. I think herself and Concertista should be a lot closer together in the market and purely from a value perspective, I’d have to favour Roksana given the form she’s shown us this season.
Selection: ROKSANA (3/1 with bet365)
The 4:15 race is the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle known to many as the Fred Winter. It’s a competitive affair as usual and plenty of horses will have been laid out for this contest. We have had plenty of shock winners over the recent years so don’t be afraid to chance one at a big price if one catches your eye.
The one for me here is COLTOR EW (8/1 with bet365) for the shrewd Dermot Weld. He had three flat runs for Weld last season, the first two he didn’t show much but Weld reached for the first time visor on his third and final flat start at Killarney where he bolted up. He has obviously gone hurdling this season and he’s he’s run three races improving with each start. He won last time out at Naas keeping on well but of course he still needs to step up significantly to win this.
However, Weld has waited for this to put the visor back for the first time over hurdles and if he shows similar progress to when the visor went on on the flat, he’s very well in here. He will also be suited by the likely better ground and Jonjo O’Neill Jnr is an interesting jockey booking.
Selection: COLTOR EW (8/1 with bet365)
The 4:50 race from Cheltenham is the National Hunt Chase. The longest Chase race of the week if you exclude the Cross Country affair, it’s run over 3m6f. It’s a shame that we don’t have any amateur riders for the 2021 renewal but it still looks set to be a fascinating contest. Next Destination has made a late switch here for the Paul Nicholls team and he must hold serious chances on all known form. The step-up in trip should hold no fears and he goes into the race with a lively chance to give Nicholls another Festival winner.
I can’t get away from GALVIN NAP (7/4 with bet365) here though who has been laid out for this race. He has Cheltenham Festival form in the book as he chased home Ryanair contender Imperial Aura in the Novice Handicap Chase last year. He has then won his last four races including when stepping up to 3m for the first time here at Cheltenham back in November. He powered clear staying on strongly to win that day which gives the impression the further step up in trip to 3m6f will be no problem. It also doesn’t appear to be an issue on breeding. Galvin has had a nice break since and this has always been the number one target for his season. He has moved to Ian Ferguson temporarily due to the Gordon Elliot situation but I’m not concerned by this as he spends most of the summer months at Ian’s yard so he’ll be very familiar with it. A classy horse who will be tough to beat.
Selection: GALVIN NAP (7/4 with bet365)
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All of these tips had been selected prior to final declarations and in the lead up to the Cheltenham Festival, by various tipsters.
The first race of the Cheltenham Festival and traditional curtain raiser is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Get a winner here and our Cheltenham Festival day 1 tips are off to a flyer! Here we see the best young hurdles over 2 miles. The race is always dominated by a fierce betting heat in the build-up as people try and get the best value for their bets. Shishkin took the race last year in a great battle with Abacadabras and the two are expected to meet in the 2021 Champion Hurdle.
The pace is always a fierce one and it is one of the most thrilling races on the whole Cheltenham Festival card. Will it be advantageous bookies or punters after race 1?
There is no better feeling than backing a winner in the Supreme at Cheltenham, it sets you up perfectly for the week ahead. There have been plenty of people trying to take this favourite on, but I don’t think that’s the wisest plan at all. Appreciate It is a fine horse for Willie Mullins, and is unbeaten over hurdles going into this race. He was a fine bumper performer last year and after he won the Grade 2 Bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival (DRF), a lot of people thought he would take a lot of beating in the Champion Bumper. Appreciate It ran a very respectable race before being collared close home by stablemate, Ferny Hollow, in last year’s Champion Bumper. That performance can also be upgraded, given he was the only one that was up with the pace throughout the race that still finished in the first six.
His hurdling career has looked rock solid also. Having won a Cork maiden hurdle, beating the talented Master McShee in the process, he soared to new heights when thrashing a good looking field in the Grade 1 novice hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. Without being quite as visually impressive at the DRF, he still confirmed placings with Ballyadam – winning quite decisively at the line.
I see the argument that people want to take him on, as Willie Mullins has probably trained more speedy two milers in his time, but this horse looks very robust at the top of the market. With a pure lack of proper alternate challengers – I feel his chances are reflected very accurately by his price of 7/4 with Betfred (NRNB). One could easily make an argument that this is a very backable price in the festival opener.
This race normally throws up a superstar with the likes of Sprinter Sacre, Un de Sceaux, Douvan and Altior winning in recent years. 2021 could be another year where a superstar confirms his status as Shishkin looks to win the Grade 1 race.
This race pits together the best 2m novice chasers and the gallop is always fast and furious. It is one of the better races for betting on favourites during Cheltenham week so is Shishkin your idea of a Cheltenham Festival banker?
The Arkle looks to be another hot race. Shishkin has been a revelation over obstacles and was a huge favourite before the DRF took place, then Willie Mullins’ Energumene put on a faultless display of jumping which saw last year’s Supreme winner drift back to odds-against. Allmankind is also in the mix and his front-running assault on the fences will no doubt test the Henderson and Mullins runners like never before, this is no doubt one to look forward to and it it comes on day 1.
Shishkin has done nothing wrong and should be able to sit off the pace before powering up the hill. He looks one of the bankers of the week.
1.55pm Cheltenham day 1 tip – Shishkin (Evens with Paddy Power)
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The first handicap of 2021 Cheltenham Festival week is the first real-time to have a strong each-way punt. The race is run on the old course and normally throws up some Grand National prospects. The 3-mile trip takes some getting and it is normally the strong stayers that come out on top.
The first Championship race of the week is the Champion Hurdle and there have been countless memorable renewals. 2018 saw Buveur D’air retrain his crown ahead of Melon and Mick Jazz, to the delight of punters who backed the strong 4/6 favourite. The hill is normally where the race changes as horses who come off the pace come into their own.
Honeysuckle, a mare that I have just plain and simply got wrong. I have been far too keen to take her on, citing reasons such as jumping at 2 mile pace, tough opposition and lack of form substance. Everytime, she has come to the well and her performance in the Irish Champion Hurdle was a career-best in my book. She travelled and jumper more like a proper 2 miler that day and that has set her up for a crack at this.
Having managed to repel the gallant Benie Des Dieux in a titanic finish to the Mares Hurdle, she should be cherry ripe to give this a fair bash. I have been convinced to finally take the plunge and back this mare, and swallow my own pride in the process. I know her win in the ICH wasn’t the strongest form you’ll find – but it was enough to sway me, putting away Abacadbras, Sharjah and Saint Roi in a fairly common canter. I think she will take the world of beating in this and the 11/4 with Betfred (NRNB) is more than fair.
3.05pm Cheltenham day 1 tip: Honeysuckle (11/4 with Betfred).
This is one of those races where it is a nightmare for punters to bet ante-post. Hopefully, the new declaration rules will help but none the less, it is a tough betting heat. Three years ago we had the debacle surrounding Limini and Vroom Vroom Mag with Rich Ricci not deciding which race they would run in.
Willie Mullins has dominated this race with superstar Quevega, Glen’s Melody in that infamous Annie Power fall race and then Vroom Vroom Mag in 2016. Apple’s Jade was a beaten 1/2 favourite in 2019 and Benie Des Dieux was turned over at 4/6 in 2020.
It is very hard to oppose Concerista as she has been so brilliant under rules. She is versatile, fast and very tough to beat.
Concertista can blow away fields in the same way as Honeysuckle has done and this means she is a strong selection in the race. Roksana would be an interesting contender here if they choose not to run in the Stayers Hurdle and she would be the main favourite to the favourite.
3.40pm Cheltenham day 1 tip – Concerista (11/10 with bet365)
The penultimate race on Cheltenham Festival day 1 is the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle. The Boodles Juvenile Hurdle has been moved to day 1, this is the race formerly known as the Fred Winter.
Since the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle was added to the Festival programme in 2005, trainers Gordon Elliott and Paul Nicholls have both saddled three winners apiece.
It isn’t uncommon for the favourite to be a double-figure price so it’s another good chance to get a winning each-way bet. It is run over 2 and half miles. Only two favourites have ever won this race.
I have been a big fan of Druids Altar, this progressive Joseph O’Brien trained juvenile this year and I think he would have a great chance in the Boodles if he turns up here. The handicaps weights are out this Wednesday, but this gelding has a rating of 130 in Ireland, so should in theory receive a lovely racing weight for the Boodles.
His form this year looks good also, he won his maiden hurdle comprehensively from Ilmig, defying a morning drift on the day to win impressively. He looks a professional horse for a juvenile, with plenty of speed over his hurdles and a willing attitude in the finish. He was then sent off as short as 11/4 for the Graded Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse, only just bigger than Zanahiyr on the day. He was well beat that day, but that experience would have helped him out a lot – going at a proper graded pace. He won the last day at Naas from Zoffanien, with the form boosted since. That form leaves him as a player in this field and I’m hoping the handicapper won’t be too harsh when assessing him.
4.15pm Cheltenham day 1 tip: Druids Altar (14/1 with Betfred).
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This race is run over 3m 7f and is the most gruelling of tests for the horses. It is a race that looks suited to stayers, but any sort of pace can take the finish out of them. When betting on the National Hunt Chase, look for jockeys with experience as it is confined to amateur jockeys. It is one of the hardest betting heats on day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival so it’s also worth delving into the each way markets.
A tricky race to get a handle on in terms of who is going to turn up where, but I’m quietly confident that they are leaning this way with Escaria Ten, who I think has all the tools to go very well in this race. Having been a backward sort early in his career, he has flourished with some nice performances this year over fences – with his form linking with some of the main protagonists for Brown Advisory Novices Chase.
Escaria Ten won a few nice races over hurdles last year but fences was always the plan and this horse put in an adequate display on chasing debut, when fifth behind Monkfish. He bettered that performance considerably when winning a Thurles Beginners in a romp. He went on to Grade 3 level last time out at Naas, when only managing to find one too good, the exciting Eclat De Rire. He jumped superb that day and stayed the 3m trip well, causing a lot of optimism over him at this extreme distance of 3m6f. He is also entered in the Ultima but he is a relatively inexperienced horse and I wouldn’t be too sure they would be mad keen in rushing him into a big field handicap. This may well be more his cup of tea at 8/1 with Betfred (NRNB) and if he does turn up here, he will be a lot shorter than his current price.
4.50pm Cheltenham day 1 tip: Escaria Ten (12/1 with Betfred).
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The day 1 races get underway at 1.30pm with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. This is one of the biggest betting races of the week because everybody wants to get off to a winning start on their Cheltenham Festival betting.
One massive plus point to this for the punter is that you will get the best sign-up offers, free bets and existing customer offers from bookmakers on the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
In years gone by, there have been some fantastic offers such as money back in cash if your bet loses on the 1.30pm race of day 1.
The feature race on day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle – the first of the ‘Championship’ races across the Festival.
There have been some flagship winners of the Champion Hurdle including Hatton’s Grace, Persian War, Hurricane Fly and Istabraq.
Last year, there was a winning favourite when Epatante won the race for trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty.
In 2020, there were some big odds winners as part of the Cheltenham Festival day 1 tips and that including a 14/1 winner and 10/1 winner.
When picking ante-post bets, you can always look to get good value but it is important to use the correct bookmakers for betting on the Cheltenham day 1 tips.
The opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is highlighted by the Champion Hurdle, due off at 3.30pm. You can see a list of the main contenders below and our prediction for the race at this ante-post stage. Epatante is still the favourite despite a recent loss but Sharjah is one of the most popular ante-post selections for Willie Mullins.
Epatante is still the best horse in the race but this season has shown that the top hurdlers fancied for the Champion Hurdle can show significant weakness.
Having won the Fighting Fifth Hurdle superbly at Newcastle in November, she was made a short-priced favourite for the Champion Hurdle.
But the mare was beaten by the reliable Silver Streak in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton after a bold ride from Adam Wedge.
Despite being beaten, Epatante is still mightily impressive. Henderson’s mare will always have that electric turn of foot and the ability to breeze past top-class opposition.
It is important not to overlook Silver Streak, who became the first horse to overcome Epatante since the mare finished ninth in the Mare’s Novices Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham festival.
Silver Streak was narrowly beaten by Song For Someone in the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham, after a great ride from Adam Wedge.
The grey finished third in the 2019 Champion Hurdle at big odds, this horse is reliable and his current price of 11/1 for the Champion Hurdle is a tempting one.
Trainer Evan Williams has a plucky and gritty hurdler here with plenty of form at Cheltenham and the horse will hope for dry ground when next appearing in the Champion Hurdle.
Owner JP McManus has a strong hand in the Champion Hurdle with Irish-trained Saint Roi also a leading fancy.
But Saint Roi has been disappointing this season, he was well beaten by Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle last time out, the horse couldn’t find anything extra when shaken by jockey Mark Walsh.
Walsh said that he wanted to sit a bit longer before asking Saint Roi for an effort but the horse went for it too early.
Saint Roi still has plenty of class and much like Epatante, this Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old has form at Cheltenham, having won last season’s County Hurdle.
Sharjah was sublime in the Matheson Hurdle last time out at Leopardstown, winning the race for the third time in a row.
Jockey Patrick Mullins gave the horse a superb ride when finishing second in last year’s Champion Hurdle, having come from the back of the field.
Patrick Mullins loves riding this horse which has experienced much misfortune in the Champion Hurdle, he was brought down in the race in 2019.
This could be the year Sharjah finally gets it right at Cheltenham and the Irish Champion Hurdle could be the next time we see this eight-year-old, who is a member of the impressive list of horses owned by the Ricci family.
Aspire Tower is another interesting contender from Ireland who has proven he can mix it with the sport’s top hurdlers.
Trained by Henry De Bromhead, the five-year-old won the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal in October, beating Abacadabras by four and a half lengths.
This form was backed up by finishing second to Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle, beating more top horses and proving his competitive credentials.
Aspire Tower is younger than most of his potential rivals here, which could mean that even if this is not his year at Cheltenham, his day could be soon around the corner.
Abacadabras is a mercurial horse, his form suggests both that he can take on top hurdlers but also be blown away by them.
The horse and its rider seemed to have last year’s Supreme Novice’s Hurdle wrapped up before Shishkin ground out an incredible victory.
But Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old hung on to beat Saint Roi and Jason The Militant in the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown this season, which was the horse’s second Grade One honours over hurdles.
Despite being a dual Grade One-winning hurdler, Abacadabras then finished 24 lengths behind Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle last time out.
The ups and downs of his form make Abacadabras a difficult horse to back but his career has shown there is great ability to be unleashed.