STAR PREVIEW: Cheltenham DAY ONE
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hey say a picture speaks a 1,000 words, well I’m not sure there is anything more intimidating than the sight of three Willie Mullins horse wagons pulling into Cheltenham.
Lined up together, in resplendent green, like army tanks ahead of the Battle Of Prestbury Park which gets under way at 1.30pm on Tuesday.
Be sure to find Ben Keith and the Star Sports gang in the Tattersalls enclosure this week if you are lucky enough to be on course this week.
If not, settle back and watch the action unfold on C4 or Racing UK – whichever takes your fancy – and there’s still time to check out our Cheltenham preview videos on the right !
A couple of months ago it looked rather Willie Mullins one-sided, it still might well be but suddenly there’s a degree of vulnerability.
Sporting brilliance can be politely applauded, but it’s vulnerability that really gets the punting juices going. However brilliant a performance in any sport, performances that are one-sided don’t do it for me. I suffered too many Steve ‘interesting’ Davis snooker wins in the 1980’s 🙁
Faugheen’s unfortunate absence from Tuesday’s featured Champion Hurdle has robbed us of the chance of seeing a defending champion strut his stuff but the race has a whole new complexion and questions are now being asked. Will the relatively late decision to switch Annie Power to the Champion Hurdle pay off ?? She saved the bookies millions by falling in the mares’ hurdle last year and is now a warm favourite for the biggest hurdle race of them all.
The race looks wide open for my money and the perfect opportunity for some each-way thievery. Nicholls Canyon’s form is rock solid and he appeals each way far more than a straight win on Annie Power does. At bigger odds, I can easily see Top Notch grabbing a share of it. He is closely matched with Identity Thief on Newcastle form but more than twice the odds. He races over the minimum distance here which I think is spot on for him.
We’ll get an early barometer on Willie Mullins with the performance of Min in the opener and the market will react one way or the other to his latest runners based on how Min runs such is the Mullins Festival factor and running on liabilities.
I can’t really have Min. He’s done absolutely nothing wrong in winning two races at Punchestown but will need to improve further to win this and whilst that is entirely likely I don’t really want to be guessing at 2/1. I’m not sure he’s in the same league as the last three Mullins winners of the race Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan. Altior is a little more battle hardened and can start the meeting well for Nicky Henderson.
I’m not going to try and get Douvan beaten in the Arkle. He looks set to follow up Un De Sceaux’s win in the race last year.
Vroum Vroum Mag is the other short priced Mullins runner on the card in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. She bids to give the trainer an eighth successive win in the race after the extraordinary exploits of Quevega (six wins) and Glens Melody last year who was the lucky benefactor of Annie Power’s fall.
I really can’t see any holes in her form and whilst wholly unoriginal she is my day one nap.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK ALTIOR (1.30 Cheltenham) for 5 points at SP with Star Sports
BACK NICHOLLS CANYON (3.30 Cheltenham) for 5 points each way at SP with Star Sports
BACK TOP NOTCH (3.30 Cheltenham) for 3 points each way at SP with Star Sports
BACK VROUM VROUM MAG (4.10 Cheltenham) for 15 points at SP with Star Sports
Sunday: -10.00 points (no bet Monday)