AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: Cheltenham Open Day One

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he three-day Open meeting gets underway at Cheltenham today when the new Princess Royal Stand will be officially opened prior to racing.

It’s then eyes down for some cracking jumping action and today’s six races include the spectacle of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase.

There will be plenty of clues for the Festival itself – although it’s worth pointing out that none of the winners on the corresponding card last year went on to taste further glory in March.

For me, without doubt, the most interesting race on today’s card is the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at 2.15, despite it just attracting a field of four.

But what a strong line-up it is, with all four winning last time out. Market leader is the John Ferguson trained Penglai Pavillion who is unbeaten in three starts. He’s a revelation since switching to the jumps having failed to be placed in five starts on the flat when trained by Charlie Appleby. He was particularly impressive when winning at the October meeting here and only had to be shaken up for a four and a half length success.

Northern raider Shantou Village has won his two races (one bumper) with consummate ease and it’s hard to tell just how good he could be as he didn’t race on the flat.

David Pipe’s Champers On Ice scrambled home to win at Punchestown but the runner-up, First Figaro, won at Galway next time out and the pair finished 28 lengths clear of the third, so that form has a very solid look to it.

Alcala romped home at Worcester but is the outsider of the quartet – mainly due to him looking slightly more exposed than his rivals.

A tough call but at the prices I am taking a chance with Champers On Ice.

A nice winner yesterday with Road To Riches who made an impressive winning seasonal reappearance at Clonmel.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-50 points)

BACK CHAMPERS ON ICE for 10 points at SP with Star Sports


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