Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Tips

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Time Race Our Tip Place Bet
13:20 The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race Appreciate It Place Bet
13:55 The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase Shishkin Place Bet
14:30 The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase Aye Right Place Bet
15:05 The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy Abacadabras Place Bet
15:40 The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Race Concertista Place Bet
16:15 The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race Her Indoors Place Bet
16:50 The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup Next Destination Place Bet

The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting event in horse racing, with 28 races over four days attracting an estimated £500 million in bets. Cheltenham Festival 2021 gets under way on Tuesday, March 16 with the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the first of three Grade 1 races on Champions Day. The highlight is the Unibet Champion Hurdle, which offers more than £450,000 in prize-money as well as a place in the record books alongside some of the greatest hurdlers of all time. Here we pinpoint the names to look out for in the Cheltenham day 1 races, recall some of the best Champion Hurdle winners and reveal our expert Cheltenham Festival day 1 tips.

Cheltenham Day 1 Races

The Cheltenham Festival day 1 races kick off at 1.30pm with the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Last season’s Champion Bumper runner-up Appreciate It heads the betting for Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins while Metier, unbeaten in three starts over hurdles, leads the charge for Britain. But be warned: only two favourites have won this in the last 16 years.

Next up at 2.10pm is the Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase and the horse who will be many people’s day 1 banker. Shishkin won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, has scored impressively on both his starts over fences this season and is odds-on for this Grade 1.

The Ultima Handicap Chase, at 2.50pm, is the first handicap of the Cheltenham Festival 2021. It is always fiercely competitive but fancied runners have fared well in recent years.

The feature race of the day, the Unibet Champion Hurdle at 3.30pm, has on its roll of honour many of the greatest hurdlers of all time and last year’s winner Epatante will be aiming to join an elite band of multiple winners.

Willie Mullins has dominated the Close Brothers Mares Hurdle, the fifth race on day 1 at 4.10pm, winning nine of the 13 runnings, although he has been out of luck in the last two years. The two big guns in the betting are last year’s winner Honeysuckle and the Mullins-trained Concertista, who was an impressive winner of the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. However, both have the Champion Hurdle as an alternative target.

The Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle takes a new slot as the fifth race on day 1 at 4.50pm, having been moved from its previous position on day 2, while the Cheltenham day 1 races conclude at 5.30pm with the National Hunt Chase, the first race of the week for amateur riders.

Cheltenham Tuesday Feature Race

The Unibet Champion Hurdle is the most important race of the year for hurdlers in Britain and Ireland. Run over 2m½f, the £450,000 contest carries more prestige and prize-money than the Cheltenham Festival’s other hurdling feature race, the Stayers’ Hurdle. As a result, it attracts a more competitive field and is regarded as the true championship race of the hurdling division. In Timeform’s list of the greatest hurdlers of all time, seven of the top ten won the Champion Hurdle.

15:30 Champion Hurdle

The Champion Hurdle has been won by many of the greatest hurdlers to have graced jump racing. The 1970s is widely considered to be the golden era of the race, when hurdling legends Night Nurse, Monksfield, Bula and Comedy Of Errors battled it out for the crown. See You Then notched three consecutive wins in the 1980s, a feat repeated between 1998 and 2000 by Istabraq, the greatest hurdler of the modern era.

Bidding to join the list of repeat winners in 2021 is Epatante, who last year became only the fifth mare to win the Champion Hurdle. She was an impressive winner of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on her return this year, taking her record over hurdles to six wins from seven starts, but she then suffered a shock defeat when 1-5 favourite in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day. She will have to put that effort behind her in March but she remains favourite to defend her title.

Silver Streak, who beat Epatante at Kempton, is prominent in the betting while last year’s Champion Hurdle runner-up Sharjah and Aspire Tower, first and second in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown over Christmas, are major hopes from Ireland along with Saint Roi.

Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Betting Tips

Cheltenham Festival day 1 is set to be a big day for Nicky Henderson, who trains the favourites for both the Arkle and Champion Hurdle. Shishkin looks rock-solid in the Arkle but Champion Hurdle favourite Epatante is worth taking on at the prices. Sharjah has three lengths to find with her on last year’s Champion Hurdle but comes to the Festival on the back of a performance on a par with his best, while a question mark hangs over Epatante after her Christmas flop. Her level would not have to drop by much at Cheltenham for Sharjah to turn last year’s form around yet he is more than three times the price, so Sharjah is the first of our Cheltenham Tuesday tips.

Appreciate It will be a tough nut to crack in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but Third Time Lucki looks a big price at around 16-1 and has to be included in our Cheltenham race tips for Tuesday. He was fourth in last season’s Champion Bumper and has had only one off-day in his four starts over hurdles. He has a bit more to better the favourites but he has improved steadily and another step forward would give him a good chance.

National Hunt Chase possible Royale Pagaille is next on our list of Cheltenham day 1 tips. He is considered by trainer Venetia Williams to be good enough for a Gold Cup entry but looks more likely to run in a novice contest at this stage in his career. He has improved enormously in his two victories this season and his experience and touch of class give him a huge shout here. He could go for the Cheltenham Festival Novices’ Chase on Wednesday instead, so back him for the National Hunt Chase with a bookie offering non-runner no bet.

Cheltenham Free Bets For Tuesday

Now that you are armed with Cheltenham Festival day 1 tips, you need to decide where to place your bets. The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting event in the sporting calendar and the bookies will be falling over themselves to get your custom, so be sure to take advantage of the free bets they offer as we get closer to the meeting. Among the offers that you can use to your advantage are money back if your horse falls, money back if your horse finishes second (and in some cases third or fourth) to the favourite, and bet365’s popular TV racing offer of a free bet in the following ITV race for every winner you back at 4-1 or more.