Cheltenham 2018: Day 1 Preview, Champion’s Day

The opening day of the Festival, and it’s the opening race that produces the now famous ‘Cheltenham Roar’. There are some big races today including the Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase and the National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup to look forward to, ahead of Ladies Day tomorrow, St Patrick’s Day on Thursday and finally the Gold Cup on Friday.

Champion’s Day 2018: Betting Specials & Offers For Existing Customers

Looking for new customer offers for Cheltenham? Visit our main page.

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Horse Racing : Betfair customers can now collect points on every bet placed

Betfair Customers will now have the opportunity to collect Rewards4Racing points on every bet placed.

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BetVictor-premier-league free bet Horse Racing : Betvictor Betfinder tool helps you find your best horse to bet on

The Betfinder is Betvictor's new tool in their horse racing area. It is using the latest TimeForm data to help you pick a horse to back.

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BetVictor-premier-league free bet Horse Racing : Betvictor Run For Your Money

Betvictor will refund all losing bets (in cash) on British and Irish racing on horses who fail to give punters A Run For Their Money and refuse or whip around at the start, fail to come out or lose all chance at the stalls.

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qualifying bets which are Cashed Out, or Partially Cashed Out
customers who are subject to a bonus, sportsbook or residency restriction

Other Terms

For customers betting in Euros the currency equivalent of £10 is €10. All other currencies will be calculated at current exchange rates.
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Bet Credits Bet365 Horse Racing: Bet365 Best Odds Guaranteed

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Horse Racing : Betfred Not Runner No Bet

Betfred are running their Non Runner No Bet on ALL races at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.

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BetVictor-premier-league free bet Horse Racing : Betvictor Best Odds Guaranteed

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Bet Credits Bet365 Horse Racing: Bet365 Price Promise

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13.30 The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race

This race has often been won by one of the market leaders in recent years, with Altior and Douvan among previous winners before embarking on chasing careers. Irish trainer Willie Mullins was victorious in three successive years from 2013 but his compatriot Gordon Elliott saddled the surprise 25/1 winner Labaik last March.

14.10 The Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase

This is a race for the leading 2m Novice chasers and Altior comfortably won this contest last season after winning the Supreme Novices Hurdle twelve months earlier. Champion two-milers Moscow Flyer and Sprinter Sacre have also won this race en route to further glory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in later seasons.

Race Preview

Sprinter Sacre, Un De Sceaux, Douvan and Altior have won the Arkle trophy at Cheltenham within the last seven seasons and Irish horse Footpad has been installed as favoured to join those illustrious names by winning the 2018 renewal. Although, he is priced at approximately 6/4 to achieve that task, he does face some creditable opposition.

The Willie Mullins gelding finished fourth in last season’s Champion Hurdle and then switched to fences at the beginning of the current campaign. He has since responded by winning all three novice chases with his first two successes achieved via comfortable 10+ length margins.

In his final prep race for Cheltenham, Footpad beat Petit Mouchoir by five lengths at the beginning of February, and he was eased near to the winning post. It appeared another comfortable victory, but the runner-up had not raced since a winning debut over fences back in October. Petit Mouchoir was running on strongly at the end of that Leopardstown race last month and could provide a sterner challenge to the favourite at the Festival. He also beat Footpad twice over hurdles last season.

Among the other challengers to Footpad, Saint Calvados could be an interesting opponent. The former horse has won all three chases to date including an impressive victory 20+ lengths victory in his previous appearance last month. He is an improving gelding but it is difficult to assess whether he may have the necessary class to win this Grade 1 contest. The Harry Whittington horse also has raced just three times in the UK on relatively flat tracks.

A late setback has ensured that Sceau Royal from the Alan King stable will not compete but Nicky Henderson is still confident of Brain Power offering a decent challenge. Following a poor run and a heavy fall at Ascot in his previous appearance, he has undergone a minor wind operation but his jumping remains suspect and there will be doubts regarding his confidence.

14.50 The Ultima Handicap Chase

A contest over three miles for horses considered just lacking the necessary class to compete in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Owner J P McManus, with his famous green and gold hoops colours, has often targeted this race and trainer Jonjo O’Neill can claim three victories since 2009. However, David Pipe has won the latest two renewals with Un Temps Pour Tout carrying more 11st 7lb or more on both occasions.

15.30 The Champion Hurdle

This is the feature race of Day 1, and recent renewals have tended to favour horses near or at the head of the betting market. Willie Mullins has won the race four times since 2011 with Faugheen aiming to repeat the feat of former stable star Hurricane Fly in regaining the title. However, Nicky Henderson will hope to earn a fourth win since 2009 as Buveur D’air attempts to retain his crown.

Race Preview

A glance at the 2018 Champion Hurdle betting would suggest that Buveur D’air is one of the bankers at the Cheltenham festival with odds as low as 2/5 with some bookmakers for the horse winning the race for the second successive season. His current form would indicate that he could be difficult to beat in this contest.

Buveur D’air began the season by winning the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle before claiming the Kempton Christmas Hurdle in emphatic style. His victory in a Sandown hurdle race last month was less assured when beating John Constable, but jockey Barry Geraghty may have been trying reserve as much of the horse’s energy as possible with more difficult and valuable races awaiting.

Opposing Buveur D’air is likely to be the 2015 Champion Hurdler Faugheen who many observers have reckoned to be a fading force. After winning on his seasonal debut at Punchestown during November, the 10-year-old gelding was pulled up in the Ryanair Hurdle over the Christmas period. Nothing emerged from tests intended to explain that uncharacteristic poor performance with Faugheen reappearing last month at Leopardstown.

The Willie Mullins trained horse finished second to Supasundae that day amid suggestions that he may now just lack that necessary turn of foot at the end of a race. However, Faugheen may emerge a better horse for that race although reproducing his form of 2015 may be not be possible.

Other contenders for the Champion Hurdle include My Tent Or Yours who has finished second in three Champion Hurdles and rarely runs a poor race. The Nicky Henderson trained horse offers decent each way value at 10-1, while Mullins may saddle Yorkhill following a poor chasing campaign this season. His 8-year-old gelding did win the 2m5f novice hurdle at the 2016 Festival and the JLT Novices’ Chase last year.

Another horse to consider for the place money could be Elgin who is set to be supplemented for the event. The Alan King trained horse has been campaigned in handicap company this season, but he has earned his chance in this race by winning last month’s Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.

16.10 The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle Race

Formerly known as the David Nicholson Mares’ hurdle, this race was first staged in 2008 and has been monopolised by Irish trainers since 2009.  Gordon Elliott ended an eight-year winning sequence for Willie Mullins last season.

16.50 The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase)

This is one of three races at the Festival that is restricted to amateur riders, and it is also the longest race of the meeting at approximately four miles in distance. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill has saddled six winners of this race but in more recent seasons, Gordon Elliott has claimed three of the last seven renewals.

17.30 The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap

Originally staged in 2005, the last eight winners of this 2m4f race have carried 11st 4lb in weight or more. The contest usually attracts a maximum field of 20 runners, and horses priced at 11/1, 12/1 and 8/1 have won the previous three editions.