Supreme Novices' Hurdle free betting tips for the first race on day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival 2014 at 1.30pm and race preview.
This year’s Cheltenham Festival opener has developed considerably since the last preview I compiled in February. It’s lining up to be a brilliant race and a great, open betting heat with many of the runners having solid chances.
After his success in the Dovecote, Irving (11/4 William Hill) has shot the head of the market in a race where the favourite has failed to oblige for nine years. His performance at Kempton was impressive as he won by a comfortable five lengths. He guessed at a few that day though, clipping two out and reaching for the last. If things get a bit more tactical and he is forced to race out of his comfort zone (which he does remarkably well) then it may bring out further errors. Furthermore, despite winning 4 contests so far with relative ease they have come on mostly flat and tight, right handed tracks. Whether or not he handles the undulations and uphill climb of the New Course are difficult to assess but the lingering doubts in themselves could be a good enough reason to oppose him for our Supreme Novices' Hurdle betting tip.
The Willie Mullins trained, VAUTOUR (7/2 Coral) strengthened his position near the top of the betting after his facile victory in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle. He jumped tremendously that day and, after making the running, he quickened away over the final hurdle. His beating of The Tullow Tank is strong form as that horse had previously claimed two Grade 1 victories. As Mullins has highlighted on a number of occasions, Vautour’s cruising speed is a great asset and he pace and jumping ability should make him very difficult to beat.
Vaniteux (12/1 BetVictor) has been something of an enigma for much of the season as Nicky Henderson was a bit coy about where he might end up. His latest start was a facile victory at Doncaster over 2m4f where he improved for the better ground. Prior to that, he was beaten by the likes of Amore Alato and Fascino Rustico on Boxing day at Kempton, form which doesn’t read particularly well. The race at Doncaster was run much more to his liking with the slower place and longer trip seeming ideal. He merits respect but even Henderson thinks he may well lack the necessary experience, possibly alongside his stalemate Josses Hill (16/1 bet365).
An odd entry for this race is Gilbamboa (12/1 Stan James) for Enda Bolger. His horses are more likely to be seen gracing the Cross Country chase circuit on a Wednesday rather than running in a novice hurdle. However, Gilmbaboa has improved no end and has even taken his trainer by surprise who saw this season as one for point to points rather than contesting top Cheltenham honours. Gilmbamboa’s beating of Flaxen Flare (second giving away 5lb) at Leopardstown over 2m looks to be solid form. He travelled with the pace and jumped well for the most part. He may not always be the neatest but he has the kind of engine that could really aid his chances. AP McCoy has been booked and as the horse is currently trading a decent price he could be the e/w play in the race
Of the rest, one time favourite The Liquidator (20/1 Ladbrokes) has had a worryingly long absence and nothing has really come to the fore about his Tolworth showing. It may just be that he got found out that day when making the pace and fading. The Mullins second (or third string depending on your viewpoint) Wicklow Brave (15/2 BetVictor) beat Lieutenant Colonel just over 4 lengths while Vautour dished out a 5 and a half length defeat to the same opponent albeit in a maiden hurdle. Even Mullins suggests the public may have Wicklow Brave wrong but his jumping may get found out in this sort of contest. Western Boy (18/1 Coral) is another whose form is tight with Vautour as he pushed the Mullins’ horse to a 1/4 length in the Moscow Flyer so on that basis he could well outrun his odds..
On balance it is difficult to side against our previous antepost advice. Although the likes of Irving have put in impressive shows in the run-up to the Festival, VAUTOUR looks to be a solid selection and is our Cheltenham tip for the 1.30pm on Tuesday.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2014 Betting Tip
VAUTOUR (WIN) (click here to bet at 7/2 with Coral)
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