It's finally here and what a week it promises to be, we have the best of the best going head to head over 4 great days of racing. Day 1, as usual, looks to be shaping up to be an absolute belter and we have plenty of action for you here on The Cheeky Punts as we look at every race of the day for you
1:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle, 2m 1/2f
9 of the 10 last winners of the race were aged 5 or 6
10 of the last 12 winners were in the top 3 of the betting
11 of the last 12 winners had at least one victory in graded races
14 of the last 16 winners of the race won their previous start in the lead up to the race
14 of the last 16 winners were either French or Irish bred
Flat Sire’s have a strong record, 11 of the last 15 winners sire had a Group 1 or Group 2 win on the flat
8 Betfair Hurdle winners have run in the race but none have won the Supreme.
Willie Mullins has won the race 7 times, Nicky Henderson also boasts a good record with 5 victories
A rating of 150 is a good guideline, 7 of the past 9 winners come into the race with an official rating of at least 150
Last 5 Winners
2022 Constitution Hill (Nicky Henderson/Nico De Boinville) 9/4j
2021 Appreciate It (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend) 8/11f
2020 Shiskin (Nicky Henderson/Nico De Boinville) 6/1
2019 Klassical Dream (Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh) 6/1
2018 Summerville Boy (Tom George/Noel Fehily) 9/1
Likely favourite Facile Vega had his bubble burst in no uncertain terms at the Dublin Racing Festival but will look to return to the Cheltenham winners enclosure following his victory in the Champion Bumper last year. It could be significant that trainer Willie Mullins has opted to add headgear in the hope he doesn’t get lit up in the same way he did when taken on for the lead by High Definition at Leopardstown.
Personally, I find it hard to back a horse that was so disappointing last time out in such a competitive affair and is worth noting the speed figures Facile Vega put up in victory prior to this defeat were not exactly Grade 1 level performances. Though he is likely to carry significant Irish support and is now back into favouritism having drifted to as big as 5/1 in the aftermath of his defeat, I would look elsewhere rather than get stuck in at the restrictive prices currently on offer.
One thing that is for certain is that this race will be run at a serious gallop! A quick look at the pace map would indicate that there are at least 8 runners that look to lead or contest the lead, and with confirmed front runner High Definition likely to kick out and make strong early fractions it could pay to look at something that is likely to pick off sitting ducks late on, and one that it could suit ideally is the Henry De Bromhead trained Inthepocket.
A late switch to this race from the Ballymore – a race over 2m5f compared to this 2mile ½ furlong test clearly suggests stamina would not be an issue, and if able to keep tabs with the early pace setters I can envisage him finishing best of all and looks cracking each way value at 12/1, especially with numerous bookmakers paying the first 4 places currently.
If you are making a case for Inthepocket, you would have to fancy Il Etait Temps who beat the former mentioned by 9 ½ lengths in the same race Facile Vega disappointed at the DRF in early February.
Currently available at 5/1, I would much prefer to be a backer of Il Etait Temps each-way at 5/1 than stable-mate Facile Vega at 5/2. The winning figure was very impressive on the clock and can see why many judges fancy Il Etait Temps to confirm form over his stable-mate.
It would be a great story if Marine National could win this for trainer Barry Connell and young jockey Michael O’Sullivan and comes into this contest unbeaten. He is a very strong travelling sort and will possibly look the likely winner at sections of the contest but I just have the feeling he could be the type to find one too good on the big day.
Tahmuras is the leading British runner for trainer Paul Nicholls, but only comes into this with a rating of 142 and would need to find a fair bit of improvement to trouble the leading Irish contenders and would prefer to look elsewhere.
At much bigger prices you cant discount Dark Raven who only finished a neck behind Inthepocket at Leopardstown and should be respected, and would be worth noting any strong market support for Diverge or Doctor Bravo who are both rumoured to be working really well and both come in with an unexposed profile, there will be better days ahead for the pair of them no doubt.
Il Etait Temps – Each Way, 5/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4)
Inthepocket – Each-way, 12/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4)
2:10 Arkle Novices Chase, 2m
British trainers have a good record in the race, winning 7 of the last 12 renewals of the race.
14 of the last 16 winners have been aged 6 or 7
14 from the last 16 winners had finished in the top 2 finishing positions in their race prior to the Arkle
11 of the last 16 winners had been placed in a Grade one event, be it over fences or the smaller obstacles
Course form is vital, 13 of the last 16 winners had either won or been placed at Cheltenham previously
12 of the last 16 winners had ran at the previous years Festival
Similarly to the Supreme, 12 of the last 16 winners had been sired by a Group 1 or Group 2 winner on the flat
Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer with seven victories in the race
The SP favourite has won 8 of the last 11 renewals, 7 of these being odds-on.
Horses rated 160 or higher have made up 8 winners since 2010
Last 5 Winners
2022 Edwardstone (Alan King/Tom Cannon) 5/2f
2021 Shishkin (Nicky Henderson/Nico De Boinville) 4/9f
2020 Put The Kettle On (Henry De Bromhead/Aidan Coleman) 16/1
2019 Duc Des Genievres (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend) 5/1
2018 Footpad (Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh) 5/6f
A cracking renewal of the race which should make great viewing, but not a race I will personally getting stuck into on the day itself unless there is some significant adjustments to the market.
Most will see this as a match between El Fabiolo and Jonbon and you can certainly understand why – both are outstanding young chasers that would be worthy winners of this event in any previous year that it was run.
Personally, I feel the market has slightly under estimated Dysart Dynamo following his defeat at the Dublin Racing Festival in February. One thing is for certain, and that is that Dysart Dynamo will kick out and make it a helter skelter pace from the offset, and though finished tired at Leopardstown it is worth noting that this course and distance will be run somewhere in the region of 16 seconds quicker than Leopardstown and therefore should favour the front running tactics of Dysart Dynamo much better. If getting into a good rhythm from the front, jumping well from fence to fence it could mean he takes some pegging back from the two market principles.
Of the two at the top of the market, slight preference would be for El Fabiolo but with little confidence over Jonbon. It looks the type of match up where if they ran 10 times over their career’s it would be no surprise to see the pair share victories 5 a piece and so is clearly very hard to split them.
I would be against Saint Roi who comes into this as an 8yr old and surely will not have the legs for more talented, progressive younger chasers and therefore maybe Hollow Games could be the value at much bigger prices.
Not a race I would get too involved in personally, but expect Dysart Dynamo to outrun his price and could look the likely winner for the majority of this 2mile contest and very much depends if the market principles are able to pick him up late.
Dysart Dynamo Each Way – 9/2, (1/5 1,2,3)
2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase, 3m 1f
12 of the last 25 winners had an official rating between 139 and 145
4 of the last 5 winner were officially rated between 139 and 145
All of the last 15 winners were rated higher than 129
9 of the last 15 winners won their previous start before the Ultima
13 of the last 16 winners were placed in the prep run before the Festival
13 of the last 15 winners had won over 3miles or further in their career
12 of the last 16 winners were aged 7,8 or 10
Only 1 6yr-old has won this race in the last decade
Course form again is vital, 15 of the last 16 winners had at least been placed at the course previously
The Coral Gold Cup at Newbury is a good trial for the race, with 4 of the last 16 winners running in that year’s renewal
All 15 winners in the last 15 renewals had won over at least 3miles previously
David Pipe is the only trainer to have won the race more than once in the last 10 years
Last 5 Winners
2022 Corach Rambler (Lucinda Russell/Derek Fox)10/1
2021 Vintage Clouds (Sue Smith/Ryan Mania) 28/1
2020 The Conditiona (lDavid Bridgwater/Brendan Powell) 15/2
2019 Beware The Bear (Nicky Henderson/Jeremiah McGrath)10/1
2018 Coo Star Sivola (Nick Williams/Lizzie Kelly) 5/1f
As you would expect for a race of this nature – a hugely competitive affair, it would be beneficial to throw a few dart’s at the board rather than banking on one selection.
It is also worthwhile checking the place terms with your bookmaker of choice with some firms paying the first 7 or 8 places home which really does make a huge difference, make the most of these enhanced place terms.
British runners have a great record in this race and the first place for me to start is last years winner Corach Rambler, who goes today from a mark of 146 having won last years renewal from a mark just 6lb lower.
If you watch back the race from last year it really was some performance, losing numerous lengths at the start and being stone last and short of room throughout before staying on in dominant fashion to win going away. His whole season looks to be aimed towards this race and ran a big race when 4th to Le Milos in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. I would expect him to go close here again given a clear round and may be worth looking to take advantage of some of the ante-post prices for this years Aintree Grand National for which he is sure to be a big player following the festival.
Next on my shortlist would be the Joe Tizzard trained Oscar Elite who was 3rd to Corach Rambler in the race last year and races from just 1lb higher today. He caught the eye last year travelling really strongly and was pegged back late on. It is worth noting he bled that day so may not have been his true running so better could be expected and the booking of leading jockey Harry Cobden catches the eye.
Jonjo O’Neil is an absolute genius at preparing one for the Festival and I am sure Monbeg Genius will have many supporters for this contest. He looks to make the pace or be prominent and could be seen jumping well from the front and if getting into a good rhythm could easily be one to go very close and needs respecting.
David Pipe has an excellent record in the race, and though is no spring chicken at 10yrs old Remastered looks the type that would be ideally suited to these conditions and from a mark of 151 looks to be a touch of value at 20/1
Nassalam has been popular in the ante-post markets and will sure to be suited by the softer ground but is only 6yrs old and may lack the required experience to be successful this year but a horse for your trackers going forward, and Into Overdrive is a very progressive type for the shrewd yard of Mark Walford who may not have stopped improving and would be no surprise to see him playing a major role in the finish.
Of the Irish raiders, my main fancy would be for Fastorslow for the Martin Brassil yard. Brassil does not bring horses over for day out and all his runners at the Festival deserve a second look and boasts the all important course form as put up a huge effort to be second to Commander of Fleet in last years Coral Cup and will likely improve for this step up in trip. Any market support would need to be respected.
Corach Rambler Each Way – 7/1 (6 places ¼)
Oscar Elite Each Way – 11/1 (6 places ¼)
3:30 Champion Hurdle, 2m 1/2f
Only 1 5yr-old has won this race in the last 10 renewals
Irish trained runners have won 7 of the last 10 running’s
26 of the last 29 winners were in the top 6 in the betting – 13 from these 26 were either favourites or joint favourites
Mares have a cracking record, winning 4 times from only 9 runners in the race
33 of the last 39 winners won last time out
Top rated horses have won 40% of the renewals in the last decade
12 of the last 16 winners were aged either 6, 7 or 8
13 of the last 16 winners had run at the Festival the previous year, again highlighting the importance of course form
10 of 16 previous winners had won at least two Grade one NH races prior to the Champion Hurdle
Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer in the race, winning it 8 times previously.
Last 5 Winners
2022 Honeysuckle (Henry De Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore) 8/11f
2021 Honeysuckle (Henry De Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore) 11/10f
2020 Epatante (Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty) 2/1f
2019 Espoir D’allen (Gavin Cromwell/Mark Walsh) 16/1
2018 Buveur D’air (Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty) 4/6f
This could be a race to remember for years to come, with it hard to see past the 4/11 favourite Constitution Hill, who – bar accident or injury really should justify those odds and win in great style.
I really think he will, and having backed him for the race after winning last years Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Festival there is no reason for me to go back in today at 4/11.
The only concern is the shocking record of Supreme Novices winners coming into the race, but Nicky Henderson has won this race 8 times and is hard to see how Constitution Hill does not make it 9 for the master of Seven Barrows.
The main danger looks to be the Willie Mullins trained State Man who would be a short priced favourite for this race in most years but looks to be unlucky in the fact has come onto our radars at the same time of the freakishly good Constitution Hill, but would be a strong fancy in the ‘without the favourite’ market as should be clear of the rest of the field on what we have seen to date.
Personally, I give Vauban little chance as seems to pull too hard this season and hasn't progressed as many would have thought when winning the Triumph Hurdle at the festival last season.
At the prices I prefer the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained I Like To Move It, who put up a huge performance at Wincanton last time out beating Knappers Hill by 17 lengths in a time that was hugely impressive on the clock.
Zanahiyr is another that is rumoured to be coming back to form and might pop up to place at a huge price once again.
This is another race that could be ran at a proper gallop, outsider Jason The Militant is a confirmed front runner but may struggle to keep the market leaders at bay and it may be that Nico De Boinville looks to keep it simple on the market leader and make his own running, likely to be tracked by State Man who surely will break at the business end of the affair.
I Like To Move It, Each way (Without the Favourite) 6/1
4:10 Mares Hurdle, 2m 4f
Willie Mullins has trained 9 of the last 15 winners
The SP favourite has won 7 of the last 15 renewals of the race
10 of the last 15 winners were rated at least 150 going into the race
12 of the last 15 winners had won their previous start in the build up to the Festival
12 of the last 15 winners were trained in Ireland
14 of the last 15 winners had at least 5 runs over hurdles in their careers
10 of the last 15 winners had won a grade 1 or grade 2 hurdle prior to the Festival
Last 5 Winners
2022 Marie’s Rock (Nicky Henderson/Nico De Boinville) 18/1
2021 Black Tears (Mrs Denise Foster/Jack Kennedy) 11/1
2020 Honeysuckle (Henry De Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore) 9/4
2019 Roksana (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton) 10/1
2018 Benie Des Dieux (Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh) 9/2
This looks the best renewal of the race we have ever seen with the top 7 in the market all looking like proper Grade 1 horses, a race with real strength and depth.
Willie Mullins is the man to focus on for this race having won it 9 times already, and his best chance looks to be Brandy Love who jockey Paul Townend has opted to ride. She has been well backed in the last few days, something that is often significant for runners in these silks as the owner is former bookmaker Joe Donnelly who is well known for huge gambles at the Festival over recent years. She looked badly in need of the run last time out at Punchestown which would be a real worry but Willie Mullins is a genius at getting one ready for the big day and the market suggests a lot more is expected. It is worth noting that was on a right handed track and she looked to hate it, jumping violently left throughout and will be much more suited by today's track and conditions.
There wouldn't be a dry eye in the house if Honeysuckle is seen back in the winner’s enclosure but unfortunately last year’s Champion Hurdle winner looks to be on a serious decline and one I would be looking to lay if stood in the ring making a book. Mare’s are very tricky once they start to decline so is hard to see her running back to her best, and though is tough and sure to put up another big effort it is hard to see her winning this strong renewal.
Nicky Henderson has a real strong hand this year with Maries Rock & former Champion Hurdle winner Epatante and wouldn't be a surprise to see either in the winners enclosure, with slight preference for Maries Rock at the prices. Epatante looked impressive when winning at Doncaster and also when chasing home Constitution Hill earlier in the season. I am slightly concerned about the ground for Epatante though. Maries Rock would be very interesting if there was more pace in the race and stamina was called upon as she was entered in the Stayers Hurdle later in the week over 3miles, but there does not seem to be a confirmed front runner and could turn into some what of a sprint finish and might just be tap for toe. Quicker they go, better her chance.
Love Envoi needs respecting and will love the softer conditions but has it all to do as not faced rivals of this quality previously, and two that look overpriced are Queens Brook and Echoes in Rain and both certainly shouldn’t be discounted.
A no bet race for me other than looking to take Honeysuckle on, but certainly wouldn't put anyone off Epatante or Echoes in Rain who offer cracking each-way value and be no surprise to see either claim 1st place honours.
Echoes In Rain Each-way 12/1
4:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, 2m 1/2f
14 of the last 18 winners were officially rated between 124 and 134
Band Of Outlaws had the highest winning mark going into the race when defying 139 in the 2019 renewal of the race
8 of the last 9 winners have carried at least 11st
10 of the last 15 winners come into the race on the back of being placed the race previously
13 of the last 15 winners have been bred either in Ireland or France
9 of the last 15 winners had run in a class 2 race or better in the build up to the Festival
Irish trained horses have won the last 5 renewals of the race
Only 1 favourite has won the race in the last decade
Last 5 Winners
2022 Brazil (Padraig Roche/Mark Walsh) 10/1
2021 Jeff Kidder (Noel Meade/Sean Flanagan) 80/1
2020 Aramax (Gordon Elliott/Mark Walsh) 15/2
2019 Band Of Outlaws (Joseph O’Brien/JJ Slevin) 7/2f
2018 Veneer Of Charm (Gordon Elliott/Jack Kennedy) 33/1
One of the trickiest contest’s throughout the entire week, endless runners who are totally unexposed and the allocated handicap mark is really nothing more than an educated guess. Due to this, not a race for maximum stakes and once again would be beneficial to fire numerous darts at the bullseye at bigger prices.
The favourite Tekao looks an obvious selection but is so short now, its the type of horse I am happy to sit back and let win at the price but absolutely no surprise to see him win, and win well. This looks like to have been the plan all season and would be no surprise to see him in Graded races by the end of the season.
My shortlist of 3 would be Byker, Bad & Metamorpheus –
Byker is trained by the master Charles Byrnes and is very encouraging to see the money arriving for the ultra shrewd Irish yard. Byker ran in the race last time out that in previous years has thrown up 4 of the last 5 winners (as was Metamorpheus) and very much looks well handicapped from 128 and is worth noting that Byrnes has applied the cheekpieces for the first time. If this brings any level of improvement I would expect him to go very close indeed.
Bad has been the subject of a sustained gamble over the last week or so, and I can certainly see why. This was a horse that was rated 138 in France and gets into this contest from just 126, how on earth the UK handicapper has come to that conclusion I will never know, and trainer Ben Pauling held Bad in such high regard he was still in the Graded Adonis Hurdle right up until the final declaration stage. Watching the reply of his victory in France you couldn’t help but be impressed and looks the type to enjoy these softer conditions. Pauling has booked Rachael Blackmore for the ride and a massive run looks on the cards.
At bigger prices, Metamorpheus looks the type to go close for trainer Paul Nolan. Nolan is another trainer who does not waste his visits to the UK and is not here for a social runner. As mentioned above, Metamorpheus ran in the same Navan hurdle as Byker (which was won by Sir Allen and also featured Jazzy Matty) and the trainer stated he is in much better health now and could go very close granted a clear run.
Byker – 6/1 Each-way (6places)
Bad – 17/2 Each-way (6places)
Metamorpheus – 20/1 Each-way (6places)
5:30 NH Chase, 3m 6f
Favourites have a poor record in the race, with the last winning favourite coming in 2013
Only 3 favourites have won in the last 14 renewals of the race
10 of the last 18 winners were aged 7
13 of the last 15 winners were aged 6-8yrs old
Recent form in vital, with 9 of the past 14 winners being placed in their prep run for the Festival
All 11 winners in the last 11 years have been rated at least 139, the last 4 winners have actually all been rated 145+.
Stattler was the top rated horse to win the race when scoring last year with a rating of 153 going into the contest
12 of the last 13 winners had ran in a Graded race in the build up to the Festival
13 of the last 14 winners had at least 3 chase starts on their CV’s
Course form again is vital, with 12 of the previous 15 having previously ran at Cheltenham
Last 5 Winners
2022 Stattler (Willie Mullins/Patrick Mullins) 2/1
2021 Galvin (Ian Ferguson/Jack Kennedy) 7/2
2020 Ravenhill (Gordon Elliott/Jamie Codd) 12/1
2019 Le Breuil (Ben Pauling/Jamie Codd) 14/1
2018 Rathvinden (Willie Mullins/Patrick Mullins) 9/2
Bar Constitution Hill in the Champion earlier on the card, Gaillard Du Mesnil would be most people’s idea of the banker on Day 1, and it is easy to see why. Patrick Mullins had been hoping to ride this 7 yr-old in this race all season and sets the standard, rated 155 he would be the highest rated horse ever to win the race so clearly has the class angle.
At Even Money it is really a decision of whether you want to play the short Odd's, or look at something at bigger prices to fill the places behind.
In the build-up to the race I very much felt that Chemical Energy was the value, but is a horse that really requires good ground, so the softer the ground the less his chance. With the ground cut up from a days action at Prestbury, I doubt he will get his conditions and therefore happy to look elsewhere.
Mister Coffey could be one for your placepot’s and an Each-way angle as Henderson has booked the leading amateur rider Derek O’Connor but does come with a caution note as finds it hard to win and too often finds himself finishing second.
Without sounding boring, I wouldn’t be surprised if the top 3 in the market here fill out the 3 places and therefore both Minella Crooner and Mahler Mission offer Each-way value against the short priced favourite. My preference is for Minella Crooner who will love the softer conditions and Gordon Elliott has booked a top amateur rider in Barry O’Neil. Furthermore he has applied the blinkers for the first time and with the step up in trip likely to bring extra improvement would be my idea of the value in the contest.
Depending how you like to play – Gaillard Du Mesnil is the most likely winner but at bigger prices I will be siding with Minella Crooner and looks the value selection in day one’s closer.
Minella Crooner – 7/1 Each-Way, (3 places)
Good Luck and don't forget we'll be here every day this week for the festival helping you find the winners with our FREE previews for you here on The Cheeky Punts