Expert Cheltenham 2014 tips for Tuesday 11th March and race preview for two races of day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival starting from 3.20pm
For those new to this sport, Cheltenham is the highlight of the National Hunt season each and every year. Every quality horse is aimed at the four day Festival which starts with a bang on Tuesday.
Seven races await us (so deep pockets could be the order of the day), and I will try and find a pair of options each day, one the more likely winner and one the better value.
The big race of the day is clearly the Champion Hurdle due off at 3.20pm and we have one of the best renewals of many a year in prospect – on paper at least. The New One is strongly fancied by the Twiston-Davies yard, ditto My Tent Or Yours for Nicky Henderson (I spoke to both trainers and they both seem equally confident!), but all that has done for me is boost the price of HURRICANE FLY (3/1 Stan James). As the winner in 2011 and 2013, and a respectable third in 2012, he would become the first ten year old to win in over 30 years but records are made to be broken and he should still prove difficult to stop. Lightly raced for his age (34 runs in total), he looked as good as ever last time out in the Irish equivalent and even better when I saw him at the track this morning and, although no “good thing” (do they exist I wonder?), he is the horse that will be weighed down by my money.
For one at a bigger price, how about a little e/w on HIGHLAND RETREAT (16/1 Coral) who seems sure to make the frame in the mares’ only race and could even win if the legendary Quevega has an off day. Unbeaten in three outings this season at Wincanton, Kempton and Ascot, connections had considered a tilt at the World Hurdle against Big Buck’s, Annie Power and Co before aiming here. Although she could well find herself tapped for toe mid race, she will stay up the hill better than most in what seems sure to be a fast paced renewal. Priced at 16/1 in places, despite trainer Harry Fry’s amazing winning percentage so far this season, she looks the value call and although deep inside I want the favourite to win the race for an amazing sixth consecutive year, even a place here will be a nice profit.
3.20pm Champion Hurdle – HURRICANE FLY (WIN) (3/1 Stan James)
4.00pm Mares’ Hurdle – HIGHLAND RETREAT (E/W) (16/1 Coral)
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