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. And day 1 looks an absolute belter. We have the grade 1s where we will see if some of the big guns can deliver. Our man #Oddsknows takes a look at every race for you here on The Cheeky Punts
1.30pm Supreme Novices Hurdles
2m87y - Grade 1
This year we will hear that famous Cheltenham roar as the tape goes up for the opener, the Supreme Novices Hurdles and what a start it looks like being. I'm a huge fan of Jonbon who was an expensive purchase for JP McManus but as a full brother to Douvan he has big shoes to follow in. I do think he has shown plenty in his 4 races so far, winning them all and looking like a superstar in the making. This is his toughest task to data and it is easy to see the support for Constitution Hill and Dysart Dynamo, the latter looking a real shot for trainer Willie Mullins. Constitution Hill heads the Henderson team with Nico on board (so Aidan Coleman will be aboard Jonbon) and both have been equally impressive in their early runs.
One who I do like at a slightly bigger price is Kilcruit as the Mullins "2nd string". A key factor here is a previous Cheltenham run having finished 2nd in last years bumper (when a short priced favourite) so that could play in to his hands a little
For those who want to kick the festival off with a huge price Shallwehaveonemore at 66/1 and Jpr One at over 100/1 could have an outside each way chance but it is hard to see past those at the top of the market here.
I'll be all aboard the Jonbon train though to kick of the festival at around 4/1
2.10pm Arkle Chase
1m7f 199y - Grade 1
The Arkle looks another cracker and Edwardstone looks a worthy favourite although he's run twice here and not placed so I'm not sure that can be ignored. He could well hack up but I think there is better value here and the one I am drawn to in this is Blue Lord (and I have him in a few ante post accas!). He won the Irish version of this at Leopardstown, with Riviere D'etel back in 2nd. He re-opposes today but I'm happy to stick with the Mullins charge at around 9/2.
At bigger prices Haut En Couleurs looks to have an each way shot and Coeur Sublime at around 14/1 looks an interesting runner for lasts season star pairing of de Bromhead and Blackmore and Magic Daze (another for de Bromhead) could well be in the mix for the places. It could well be a Mullins day though and I wouldn't be surprised to see him rattle in the first 2 of the day here
2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase
3m1f - Grade 3
A big open race as ever for the Ultima and Skybet are going 7 places on this, and other bookies have similar offers on, so there could well be some each way value to be had. This does look a difficult one to call so I'll be playing a few here each way, the first of which is Corach Rambler. He did win here back in December over this distance and despite idling a touch at the end he looked in control. This big field may actually suit him more so 10/1 looks a good price for me.
Trainer Gordon Elliott has a couple of runners headed by Floueur but I actually prefer the look of Death Duty with Jack Kennedy onboard. A bit of rain overnight would possibly play in his favour but he's another who looks to have a good each way chance. Fantastikas has been tipped up in a few places but I'm not so keen myself, he can't be ruled out though and could be in with an each way play. If you are looking for a big one then you could do worse than the 100/1 on Run To Milan, this looks wide open so we could well see a bigger priced winner in this one. Trying to find it looks tricky though!
3.30pm Champion Hurdle
2m87y - Grade 1
Honeysuckle. That could easily be all I need to say on this one as the superstar filly will take all the beating and will be many peoples banker of not just the day but the festival itself. With a perfect record of 14 races and 14 wins its impossible to not fancy her for this one. At 4/6 though its not a bet I'd be on so there may be some value outside the obvious choice for the win. Appreciate It looks a potential superstar but hasn't been seen since winning the Supreme here last year so there is surely a question mark over being fit and ready for this.
Teahupoo could be the one to actually challenge but I also like Zanahiyr who also runs for Elliott. He chased home Honeysuckle last time out at Leopardstown and I think he could do the same again here. The forecast could be worth a punt here to look for a bit of value.
4.10pm Mares Hurdles
2m3f 200y - Grade 1
Another open looking one here in the Mares Hurdle with the top 3 in the betting representing the big 3 trainers. Telmesomethinggirl runs for De Bromhead, we have Queens Brook for Gordon Elliott and Stormy Ireland represents Willie Mullins. Of the 3 the one I like here is Stormy Ireland and Willie was quite keen on his charge here on a recent preview. Queens Brook should be fitter coming in to this on the back of a pipe opener at Punchestown in February and can go very close and Telmesomethinggirl won here last year so has that important course victory to her name.
It's hard to see past the top 3 here but Echoes in Rain isn't without a chance and at a bigger price Indefatigable looks an interesting runner at around 20/1 and could have an outside place chance. For me though its all about Stormy Ireland and possibly another for Willie
4.50pm Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (formerly the Fred Winter)
2m87y - Grade 3
In the Juvenile here for what was the Fred Winter and its another Mullins runner here that heads the betting in the shape of Gaelic Warrior. There has been a lot of antepost support for him and he could well hose up here but there may be a bit better value to be had in my view. I like The Tide Turns but another Elliott runner who has been widely tipped up as a bigger price is Britzka at around 20/1. I'm not so sure myself him but its a tempting price for a small each way punt.
HMS Seahorse could be a lively contender and has certainly had plenty of support so could well go off shorter than the current 8/1 and another I think may come in for a bit of support is Saint Segal. He ran well in a G1 finishing 2nd behind Porticello so there could be more to come from him in a pretty open looking race. With a few extra places on offer for this one I'll be looking at one of the bigger prices each way
5.30pm National Hunt Chase
3m5f 201y - Grade 2
The last of the day is the National Hunt Chase and all talk of this will on Run Wild Fred, another that is sure to be in lots of accas as a pretty warm order favourite. I do think that support is justified and whilst the price is a bit short for me, at around 6/4, I don't see anything that can really beat him here. Stattler runs for the Mullins team but was a touch disappointing when favourite for the Albert Bartlett here last year. Vanillier has a fair bit to find with Run Wild Fred but did win that Bartlett last year so possibly has the pick of the course form.
At a bigger price the 'outsider' here could be worth a look, Braeside could go well for the Elliott yard and personally I think he could have a pretty good festival this year. The team looks strong and they are going to be competitive so I think they'll have at least a few winners.
Hopefully it will be a day full of winners as we look to kick of the festival in style. Good Luck to everyone whatever you are backing and lets hope we can all smash the bookies on day 1!