AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR HORSE RACING PREVIEW: Cheltenham Festival 2023 | Day One

After all the waiting, the big week is finally here!

Welcome to the first of four amazing days, with cards hopefully matched by these four previews and the accompanying results. Visitors to this website have not two spectacles to look forward to, as alongside the Festival itself we also have our knockout tipping competition, with 32 top minds going head to head.

See the draw – with links to the outright betting and matches – by clicking below.

Cheltenham Knockout Tipping Competition

Our brand ambassador Davy Russell is also riding in his last Festival after a sensational comeback – get the inside track on his rides in his exclusive Day One blog:

DAVY RUSSELL blog: Cheltenham Festival TUESDAY

Don’t miss out on our YES/NO competition, where we have a first prize of a £500 FREE BET and 1,000’s other FREE BETS to giveaway. You can even win if you have a shocker – there’s a £25 free bet for none correct at all!


And last but never least, enjoy our great Every Second Counts offer!

Place a win only single bet on any selection in the Race Winner market at Cheltenham and if it finishes second, we will give you your money back as a FREE BET to the same stake up to £50 to use on any event!

Ground: The official going is Soft on the Old Course, Soft, Good to Soft (in places) on the New Course and Soft, Good to Soft (in places) on the Cross-Country Course. Further showers are expected today into Tuesday, so we should start on soft ground.

(All races on the Old Course)

2023 Cheltenham Festival, Day One
Cheltenham Racecourse
Live on ITV 1 HD from 1.00pm, and Racing TV HD from 10.00am with Mark Your Card

1.30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

A tricky opener for the week, with favourite Facile Vega coming here after a flop behind stablemate Il Etait Temps at Leopardstown last month at the Dublin Racing Festival. He set off far too quickly (along with High Definition) but he was beaten 20 lengths that day, and whilst he was lame afterwards there are major question marks over how he cut out.

We can expect better today, especially with a different ride – but this appears to be an open renewal and he’s taken on at the prices. Marine Nationale was most taking in the Royal Bond, when he overcame a troubled run and then a poor jump at the last to claw back Irish Point at the line. That was just his second hurdles start and with a target to aim at and more experience under his belt, he must be a major player, although one would have loved to see him run again since.

Il Etait Temps is a much improved second-season novice (who now wears a hood) and his romp in the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle, when he thumped Inthepocket and Dark Raven by nine lengths in an impressive time. Facile Vega was well below par there, but on the figures it was an improved performance – and one of the best seen from any novice all season. He arrives here bang in form, with no tactical or ground concerns, and can give Facile Vega plenty to think about even if returned to form, making him the most appealing of the big three.

Tahmuras was a taking winner of the Tolworth Hurdle, when he travelled impressively and had much more in hand than his winning margin suggested. He’ll enjoy the test that a Supreme provides and looks like a leading contender for the home side. Chasing Fire deserves his chance here after three impressive hurdle wins and is one of two for Olly Murphy, whose two previous runners in this race finished second and third in 2019 at 28/1 and 25/1.

The most interesting home contender here might be Rare Edition, who was an impressive seven length winner at Kempton on Boxing Day when beating subsequent Grade 2 winner Rubaud. His closing sectionals were impressive, finishing his final half mile in 56.21 seconds, just a length slower than Constitution Hill in the Christmas Hurdle on the same card. He has excuses for his second in the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon, having scoped dirty afterwards, and few contenders will enjoy a full field and strong pace more than he will.

High Definition impressed on his hurdling debut, but his jumping let him down when going too fast at the Dublin Racing Festival and this will be a harder test; Diverge was super impressive at Punchestown and has lots of ability, but this will be an altogether different test.

2.10 – Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (2m) (1m7f199y)

One of the clashes of the week between Jonbon and El Fabiolo, who shared an almighty battle in last season’s Top Novices’ Hurdle and have since dominated the 2-mile chasing division, with El Fabiolo trashing a strong field in the Irish Arkle whilst Jonbon has won the Henry VII and Kingmaker Novices Chases. Jonbon has jumped the better of the pair so far whilst El Fabiolo has arguably shown the better form, but separating the pair is an extremely hard task and perhaps the reverse forecast may be the best option considering their quality.

Dysart Dynamo has as quickly made into a better chaser than hurdler this season and should enjoy the reduction in trip (Irish Arkle was run over 2m1f), but he could be taken on for the lead again here and it’s possible he could be vulnerable to stronger finishers up the hill. Those looking for an option without the top two could do worse than Saint Roi, who unseated in the Irish Arkle but was impressive when winning the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas when benefitting from a strong pace and smart riding from Mark Walsh. This race could set up very well for him again.

2.50 – Ultima Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (3m1f)

Taking two from the top of the market against the field here in the shape of Corach Rambler and Into Overdrive. There’s no prizes for guessing at the prices, but Corach Rambler’s surge to win this last year was hugely impressive and he shaped extremely well when fourth in the Coral Gold Cup (previously Hennessey) at Newbury when last seen. Up just 6lbs since winning last year, he has every chance.

Into Overdrive has been a revelation over fences, especially when stepped up in trip. An emphatic winner of a Premier Handicap at Wetherby, he found only Grade 1 chaser L’Homme Presse too good in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, and he was a game winner of an extremely high-quality renewal of the Rowland Meyrick (runner up Sounds Russian second in Cotswold Chase here afterwards). Being raised only 5lbs for that is more than fair and as a strong traveller and stayer, Cheltenham holds no fears – although slightly better ground would help.

3.30 – Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (2m½f) (2m87y)

All about Constitution Hill, who’s confirmed the impression he left when tearing apart the field in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with a pair of dynamite performances in the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle, when he beat his former Champion Hurdle winning stablemate Epatante by 12 and 17 lengths respectively. He’ll be tested more by State Man – an impressive winner of the Morgiana, Matheson and Irish Champion Hurdles – but he should still have too much for him, Vauban and I Like To Move It. State Man – who left Honeysuckle and Vauban for dead at the Dublin Racing Festival – is the clear choice in w/o markets.

4.10 – Mares Hurdle (Grade 1) (2m4f) (2m3f200y)

Arguably the race of the day and one of the best contests of the week, as the defending Champion takes on two Champion Hurdlers, and two more Grade 1 winners to boot. Marie’s Rock faces her toughest test here but in her two runs since a surprise victory over Queen’s Brook in this last year, she’s won the Punchestown equivalent (beat stablemate Epatante) and then slammed decent geldings in the Reelkeel under a 6lbs penalty.

This is a better renewal than last year, but it’s possible she’s still improving, she sees out the trip powerfully at this distance, and appears to have no major weaknesses, making 11/4 with a fair price. 2020 winner Honeysuckle is still a fine horse, but she may have hit her peak after 16 wins and a sounder surface would be preferred over this trip (was outstayed in Hatton’s Grace; outsped Benie des Dieux when winning this in 2020). Epatante is a major threat, although she must settle over this course and distance and the same comments apply to Echoes In Rain.

Soft ground is great news for Love Envoi, although she was smashed by Brandy Love in the EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse and it’s hard to imagine that form being reversed at a left-handed track.

4.50 – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2m½f) (2m87y)

Fiercely competitive as ever and the key race may be the Naas rated novice hurdle which has produced three of the last four winners of this event. On that day Sir Allen beat Morning Solider, Byker, Jazzy Matty and Metamorpheus, and it could be that Sir Allen and Byker are the horses to take out of that.

Byker was too keen for his own good there but will surely get a stronger pace to aim at today and is 6lbs better off with Sir Allen for a four and a half-length beating. Add Phillip Byrnes 5lbs claim into proceedings and he looks well handicapped on that form. Make it two against the field with Sir Allen, who found only Triumph Hurdle contender Blood Destiny too good on debut and he’s impressed with his attitude in wins at Punchestown and Naas. The booking of Danny Mullins is a real coup for connections and the stamina he’s shown suggests Cheltenham will suit as well.

5.30 – National Hunt Challenge Cup (3m6f) (3m5f201y)

Gaillard Du Mesnil is a short price here but he deserves to be on all known form and is the clear pick. Third in the Brown Advisory last season, he was an excellent third in the Irish Grand National and has since finished runner up in the Drinmore, hacked up in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase, and was third in the 2m5f Grade 1 at the Dublin Racing Festival. A sound jumper and strong stayer who won’t mind the ground, this looks like a fine opportunity for Patrick Mullins to add to his Festival tally.

Mahler Mission has a patchy record here but can be forgiven those runs and will be a big each/way player whilst Chemical Energy and Minella Crooner give Gordon Eliott a strong hand, for all that Chemical Energy must bounce back from a dreadful run last time out and Minella Crooner has proven to be something of a disappointment over fences.

Mister Coffey is 0-7 but that includes a number of high-class efforts, and he could be well worth including in a placepot.


BACK Il Etait Temps 1 pt win in 1.30 Cheltenham at 9/2 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Rare Edition 1 pt each/way in 1.30 Cheltenham at 25/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK El Fabiolo – Jonbon reverse forecast 2 pts in 2.10 Cheltenham with
BACK Corach Rambler 1 pt win in 2.50 Cheltenham at 6/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Into Overdrive 1 pt win in 2.50 Cheltenham at 7/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Marie’s Rock 2 pts win in 4.10 Cheltenham at 12/5 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Byker 1 pt win in 4.50 Cheltenham at 6/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Sir Allen 1 pt win in 4.50 Cheltenham at 11/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Gaillard Du Mesnil 4 pts win 5.30 Cheltenham at 10/11 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (MAR 2023): LOSS -18.92 points



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