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The first day of the Cheltenham Festival is finally upon us with punters set to enjoy a week of fun and frivolity at Prestbury Park.
Four days, 28 races, this year's Festival looks sure to live up to its billing and ODDSbible Racing's star man Danny Archer has previewed every race, every day, live for us.
Here are his tips for Tuesday's card:
1.30 - G1 Supreme Novices' Hurdle - Kalashnikov 5/1, First Flow E/W 10/1 and Slate House E/W 18/1 (bet365 paying 4 places each way)
Winners of the Betfair Hurdle have gone on to run well in The Festival's traditional curtain-raiser with My Tent Or Yours and Ballyandy both running fine races in this event in recent years. Kalashnikov has to prove that he can handle really testing conditions, but the way he jumped and travelled at Newbury on soft ground gave plenty of optimism. The five-year-old son of Kalanisi is bred to appreciate softer conditions underfoot so that augurs well despite connections wanting better ground. His trainer Amy Murphy is an excellent young handler and jockey Jack Quinlan is underrated. His BHA rating of 154 gives him leading claims in this.
First Flow has caught my eye in recent days due to his preference for soft conditions. He was impressive in the Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle at Haydock last time and is plenty more to come from this unexposed Primary gelding. He made the running last time and whilst he won't get an easy lead out in front this time around, he could still play a part in the finish.
At a big price, Slate House has a good chance. He was impressive on his first two starts for Colin Tizzard over two miles at Cheltenham, before getting outpaced at Ascot in December and not getting home over two and a half-miles last time out. Expect a better performance here having won on soft ground and given his preference for the stiff undulations of Cheltenham as a racecourse His trainer thinks a lot of him and there is more to come here from this unexposed six-year-old son of Presenting, who will make a lovely chaser next year.
2.10 - Arkle - Footpad 10/11
Tough race to call this with four of the five runners all having claims but Footpad has impressed with the manner of his victories over fences. Fourth in the Champion Hurdle last year, he has looked a natural over the larger obstacles this term and readily accounted for Petit Mouchoir last time. This is another test but Saint Calvados should ensure a steady gallop up front and this race could play into the hands of Willie Mullins' charge.
He has to improve again to win this race but the six-year-old sets the standard and off level weights, he could prove tough to beat.
Petit Mouchoir could get closer to the selection this time around than at Leopardstown but he still has five lengths to find, whilst Brain Power's inaccuracy over his fences could prove costly.
Saint Calvados, a five-year-old son of Saint Des Saints will relish the conditions and could give Footpad the most to think about.
2.50 - Ultima Handicap Chase - Singlefarmpayment E/W 13/2 and Vintage Clouds E/W 8/1
I've been a long time admirer of Singlefarmpayment who lost by a short-head in this race last year. Things haven't gone to plan this year and whilst his jumping is a slight worry, I think this race could suit. Travelling powerfully when falling in the Ladbrokes Trophy earlier this season, he was pulled up in the Cotswold Chase last time at Cheltenham, but he was really well backed that day and better was expected. The heavy ground hopefully won't be too much of a worry and he makes appeal at his price in this event.
Vintage Clouds is interesting given his ultra-consistent profile. An impressive winner at Aintree on his start of the season, the Cloudings gelding was fourth in the Welsh National in January and was a creditable second to Ballyoptic at Wetherby in a G2 event last time out. Dropping back into handicap company, he's of interest particularly with ground conditions to suit.
3.30 - Champion Hurdle - Buveur D'Air 8/15 and Wicklow Brave 14/1
Buveur D'Air is a warm favourite for the Champion Hurdle and justifiably so. A decisive winner of the race last year, he's unbeaten in three starts this term and whilst the competition he's faced has been weak, the Crillon gelding has beaten everything that's in front of him.
The seven-year-old will relish the ground and he can become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the two mile championship event since Hardy Eustace.
2015 winner Faugheen has the addition of cheek-pieces but I don't think he is the same horse this year following a disappointing second in all honesty behind Supasundae at Leopardstown last time.
At a bigger price, whilst Wicklow Brave was tenth in the Melbourne Cup last time, he is 4-4 in heavy conditions and he could keep on from the back of the field to nick a place at what looks a a bit of each way value on a week renewal of the Champion Hurdle.
4.10pm - Mares' Hurdle - Apple's Jade 4/7 and La Bague Au Roi 13/2
Apple's Jade was a game winner of this contest last year and might not face the same stiff competition as she gained from Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini in the 2017 renewal. The six-year-old has taken her form to another level this season with three successive victories including two G1 successes and with ground conditions not a major issue, she is the class horse in the field and can stamp her superiority on this event by becoming the second multiple winner of this event following Quevega.
The daughter of Saddler Maker has beaten solid G1 horses this year and this looks hers for the taking.
At an each way price, La Bague Au Roi should not be discounted given she stays further than two and a half-miles and has proven form on soft ground. Whilst she would prefer a sounder surface, the seven-year-old can put it up to her rivals and is ultra-consistent. She's a tough mare and makes each way appeal in this event.
4.50pm - G2 National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase - Ms Parfois 7/1 E/W and Sizing Tennessee E/W 8/1
Ms Parfois shapes as though she will relish the step up in trip and has been in stellar form this season. Second to Black Corton in the Reynoldstown Novices' Chase last time, ground conditions won't pose a major problem and she has also won at Cheltenham this season.
Will Biddick is an excellent jockey and should get a good tune of the seven-year-old daughter of Mahler, who will also handle conditions in the four miler.
Sizing Tennessee is a talented yet quirky individual. A winner at Cheltenham in December, he gave Yanworth a real scare at Prestbury Park in June before finishing third at the track later that month. This step up in trip should be within his compass and he goes in the mud.
5.30pm - Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase - Any Second Now 5/1 and Mister Whitaker 15/2
Following the defection of Movewiththetimes, Any Second Now looks to be J P McManus' leading light for this event and following two creditable efforts in defeat to Footpad this season, the move into handicap company could see him finally get his head in front. Proven on the ground, the six-year-old son of Oscar is unexposed after just eight career starts, four of those over fences and he looks a good bet.
Mister Whitaker kept on tenaciously to score at Cheltenham in January when conditions were soft. He jumped well that day and is another unexposed contender following four runs over the larger obstacles. Mick Channon does well with the small number of jump horses he has in the yard and he should not be overlooked in this.
All odds with bet365 - 18+ only, begambleaware.org, terms apply.
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