Rory Delargy: Cheltenham Day 1 - Get Out of My Tent!

9 min


13:30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

It’s tempting to try and take on Getabird here, as there are one or two questions about the favourite, notably how he will cope with the track having run out in a point on his only start left-handed. He’s also not got the best front legs, but then who does?

The worry is that the firms will be offering overs and/or account opening offers which will see an artificial drift on the day. My advice would be to lay him at 3.05 or shorter, but I wouldn’t be in a huge hurry to chase the price out. In terms of his form, he should be closer to 4.5 than his current price, but Willie Mullins has an enviable record with horses with his profile, so a degree of caution is advisable.

14:10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase

Petit Mouchoir is the one to take on here. Third in last year’s Champion Hurdle ahead of Footpad, he’s been widely tipped to beat that rival given he also beat that rival twice at Leopardstown last season when the pair were hurdling.

That’s a fair point, but chasing is a different game, and while PM has been good, Footpad has taken to the new discipline like a duck to water.

It’s possible that Petit Mouchoir will improve for his run behind Footpad in the Irish Arkle, but that was a big effort for a supposedly unfit horse, and given he was coming back from an injury-enforced break, there is a chance, and a good one at that, that he will go the wrong way from his prep, where he made two significant early errors.

Many judges will mark him up for coming back from those mistakes, but I’m inclined to be negative because he made them. The final nail in his coffin is that he’s fundamentally a good ground horse who copes rather than relishes soft conditions. Other than a maiden hurdle, he has yet to win under rules when the ground has been soft or worse. That is a significant worry in a race like this, and the small field and heavy ground means this is no two-horse race, with Saint Calvados probably the favourite’s biggest threat.

14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase

Sometimes the most important aspect of race analysis is the ability to drop old thinking when it becomes outdated or made irrelevant by changes in conditions.

Singlefarmpayment and Gold Present were two of the three I had on my radar for this before the weights were published, but that was in expectation of spring ground, and the heavy surface will count against both of them, to the extent that I would lay both for a place at their current prices.

The former has won on heavy ground at Cheltenham, but that came in a handicap hurdle off a generous mark of 125, and he’s failed to complete on both starts over fences when the ground has been soft or worse (unlucky to be brought down on first occasion). The key to him is that his jumping suffers and that was the case when he was pulled up here in January. That came in a Grade 2, but he was heavily supported and simply couldn’t cope with jumping out of deep ground.

Gold Present has been kept away from soft ground throughout his career, and also has stamina doubts for a genuine slog having raced at up to a bare three miles to date. Lay both for a place.

15:30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

There are so many horses in this race who look ripe to be taken on here behind a really solid favourite, with the Willie Mullins quartet who fill the next four positions behind Buveur D’Air all full of holes, and I’d probably nominate the lunatic Yorkhill as the worst value among them.

There is an easier way of profiting from the race, however, and that’s just to oppose three-time runner-up My Tent Or Yours in the place market. On recent form, he is arguably the second-best horse in the race, but he does not want heavy ground.

A look through his form would suggest he’s impervious to ground conditions, and he won the International Hurdle on soft ground in December, but that ground wasn’t as bad as this will be, and he was receiving weight from the placed horses. His last run on heavy ground saw him trail in behind Ch’tibello at Haydock, and the conclusion is that he handles easy ground but not mud.

Because he’s been second three times in this race (on ground described by Timeform as either good or good to firm), his place price will hold up, and I would be flabbergasted if he could finish in the money at the age of 11 in this slop.

16:10 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (David Nicholson)

Benie des Dieux looks far too short against good thing Apple’s Jade here, but there are only two obvious runners besides the favourite, so I’d rather be playing that pair (La Bague Au Roi and Jer’s Girl) underneath the jolly in forecasts.

Recommended Bets:

  • 13.30 Lay Getabird @ 3.05 or shorter (do not chase!)
  • 14.10 Lay Petit Mouchoir @ 5.0 or shorter
  • 14.50 Place Lay Gold Present @ 3.5 or shorter
  • 14.50 Place Lay Singlefarmpayment @ 2.8 or shorter
  • 15.30 Place Lay My Tent Or Yours @ 3.75 or shorter