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Daryl Carter’s Best Bets – 2023 Cheltenham Festival | Day One

Top Tipster Daryl Carter is fired up for the Festival and goes into Day One with a HUGE 4PT selection!

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Posted: 1.30m March 13th (Odds correct at time of writing)

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1.30 Cheltenham – Marine Nationale (1pt e/w – 9/2 Will Hill, 4/1 generally. Back with firms paying 4 places)
MARINE NATIONALE arrives here unbeaten in four career starts and two Hurdle starts. He has been underestimated by the market, likely because he is not Willie Mullins trained and, in my opinion, should be the clear favourite. His Royal Bond form can easily be knocked through the runner-up Irish Point. Still, I argue that one failed to give his running at the Dublin Racing Festival and had previously showed up well when second to Champ Kiely in the Grade 1 Lawlors Of Naas in between those runs. Irish Point won Saturday over Oliver McKiernan’s No Looking Back, who had previously won a Grade 2 at Limerick over Brazil in a two-runner race, so his DRF run was seriously out of character.

The time of the Royal Bond was very good until three out, where they clocked a figure seven seconds ahead of both Lossiemouth in the Juvenile contest and Teahupoo in the Hattons Grace. Marine Nationale was much slower from three to the finish, but his rider sat in a pocket on the rail on the bridle, and I would argue that had he gone to win his race from the third last he would have won by a street. He almost came to a standstill at the final flight and still managed to pick up smartly on the short run to the line to get up and claim victory. That race came on unfavoured soft ground and was the first time he had been off the bridle. He is open to significant improvement – particularly with fresh ground here, and he should have learned a good deal from the Royal Bond run, and he will be very hard to keep out of the first four. I am not hugely concerned by the ground unless it gets very deep tomorrow.

Facile Vega has a pronounced knee action which suggests the desperately soft ground bumper last year very much favoured him, and while he is no doubt a smart horse, he has it to prove after his run at the Dublin Racing Festival. I was also concerned with his run at Xmas, where Il Etait Temps moved up easily onto his hind quarters, and Ashroe Diamond ran a very strange race but eye-catching one from well off the pace clocking a faster 2-1 finish time than the winner. Facile Vega dictated that Xmas contest, and I felt he was given a freebie – he won’t be able to do that here. Il Etait Temps is feared. He put in the best performance of a Novice Hurdler this season with his Dublin Racing Festival win, and he was very eye-catching in the Triumph Hurdle after he pulled the arms off of Danny Mullins. I worry the occasion could get to him as he is very keen and free-going, and he couldn’t quicken with the Juveniles up the hill last year. He has sound place claims, and I will try not to lose in the race should he win, but the selection could yet be anything, and he promises to have a very bright future. He will travel strongly through this contest and makes the most appeal but take NO SHORTER THAN 4/1 and four places, and that offer is there with 9/2 William Hill 4 places, 4/1 Betvictor, Coral, Betfred, BetUK and more.

Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (GBB Race)
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2.10 Cheltenham – El Fabiolo (4pt win – 13/8 generally)
Jonbon is all the rage, but I want to take him on with EL FABIOLO who I think could be a real top-class horse. This pair met back at Aintree last year when the selection made the jump from a Tramore (heavy) Maiden Hurdle into Grade 1 company on just his second start. He was due to run at the Dublin Racing Festival instead of that contest but got an injury in transit and was tackling completely different ground conditions at Aintree three months later (good). He was conceding experience to Jonbon, and he wore a hood for the first time (Willie Mullins has an outstanding record when removing this), and he was hampered in running not once but twice. It was an excellent performance for one so inexperienced, and only a neck separated them. El Fabiolo won next time at Punchestown when the hood was removed and has clearly improved for the winter on his back. He returned to action on his Chase debut at Fairyhouse, now looking like a sizeable unit that had matured from five-six. The time of his Chase debut win on the bridle over Colonel Mustard (subsequent second in the Morebattle Hurdle off 140) was 22.4 lengths faster than the handicap winner on the card rated 131 (Gallyhill a 136-rated hurdler in a six-length second), and he carried seven pounds more. Despite some jumping blemishes, everything about the performance told you he was top-notch. His jumping improved dramatically for his ten length Grade 1 romp at the Dublin Racing Festival with just one serious mistake down the back, which would have ended a lesser horse’s race. He bolted up, powering away at the finish while Dysart Dynamo and Appreciate It was legless at the finish, and he was on the sharp end of the pace the entire contest. The time of that race was electric, and nothing short of one of the best Novices Chases for a decade. The form is the clear stand-out in this contest as is the time he achieved on the clock. He is entitled to improve again in the jumping department, and I think he will take a world of beating.

Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race)
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2.50 Cheltenham – Corach Rambler (1pt win – 13/2 generally

Oscar Elite (1pt e/w – 11/1 generally. Skybet pay 8 places, Betfair 7 places bet no less than 6 places)

Remastered (1pt e/w – 25/1 Bet365/Unibet, 22/1 generally)

The form of OSCAR ELITE’S latest victory is not that strong but he did look at least back to himself when running out a comfortable winner of the Reynaldstown and his third in this race last year despite travelling widest of all surely means he is over-priced at double figure odds just 1lb higher. He came into form at this time last year and the year before when a good second in the Albert Bartlett, and he rates a rock solid each-way proposition.
Last year’s winner CORACH RAMBLER is a win-only bet, but he had so much in hand last year that a six pounds rise should not be enough to stop him from doubling up in this race. He is 2-2 at this venue and was a huge eye-catcher at Newbury when given far too much to do. Should connections opt for slightly more aggressive tactics, he surely won be far away, but given his run style, he rates a win-or-nothing bet for me.

REMASTERED is a late addition to this column due to the ground change, and I am slightly concerned for Oscar Elite. However, David Pipes’s runner will be far from inconvenienced, and the price is too hard to ignore. He can be forgiven his run at Sandown over hurdles last time as that is now the second time he has performed poorly at that venue. Still, he had been progressive over fences this term, scoring in four of his nine outings, including a career-best in the Coral Gold Cup – a key trial race for this event. He ran a blinder when last at this venue when a non-staying fifth in the National Hunt Chase, and he has left the impression there is a bigger performance in him, having streaked clear at Kempton on his last outing over fences. Interestingly when switching back to fences from Hurdles, he fell when in with every chance in the Ladbroke Trophy in 2021 and ran an excellent second in this year’s renewal. The run over hurdles last time may have been by design.
1pt e/w

Ultima Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race)
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4.10 Cheltenham – Maries Rock (2pt win – 5/2 generally)
Brandy Love (1pt win – 11/2 generally)

MARIE’S ROCK, finally being declared, puts a different slant on this race, having been in the Brandy Love camp for most of the year. Nicky Henderson’s winner from 12 months ago looked better than ever when scoring on trials day on seasonal return when demolishing the boys in the Reelkeel Hurdle, and that form, as well as the speed figure, is up there with anything any of these have achieved. She handles Cheltenham really well, and this is a course that is tailor-made for her. She is now 3-3 at this distance and 2-3 at this venue, and she could still have any amount of improvement to come after just 12 career starts. Her potent turn of foot sets her apart from many of these rivals, and she can land back-to-back Mares Hurdles. Honeysuckle has been on the downgrade this season, failing to score in two slowly run races, while Epatante, whose best form has come at 2m, has already been outstayed by Marie’s Rock when they met at Punchestown last season. Love Envoi is another whose small fields and good winning margins have masked the poor time figures. Echoes In Rain has improvement to come, but her trip is 2m, not 2 1/2, while last year’s runner-up Queens Brook who goes well at this time of year, will need many of these to underperform including Shewearsitwell, who managed to circle her when winning at Leopardstown. Theatre Glory is an unknown quantity but would be a shock winner as she needs to improve at least 12 pounds.
BRANDY LOVE will be seen to far better effect on this left-handed track, and she is entitled to come on significantly for the run at Punchestown, where the tight inside course didn’t suit. She has an air of unknown quality about her having destroyed Love Envoi at Punchestown last year despite jumping out to the right, and the fact that they are close in the market suggests one is grossly underpriced/overpriced. This is a big ask for Brandy Love, and the overall look of her form is not as taking as Marie’s Rock, who has proven she can do it, but the strong suspicion is that a career-best could be on the cards for Brandy Love, and I am not willing to give up on her just yet.

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) (Grade 1) (GBB Race)
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5.30 Cheltenham – Mister Coffey TO PLACE (3 places) (2pt win 6/4 generally)

Nicky Henderson’s horses tend to run very well at the festival, and there’s a little value in backing MISTER COFFEY to hit the frame in the lucky last on day 1. He has nothing to find with the remainder of the field outside of the very strong favourite Gaillard Du Mesnil, and he ran a scorcher in the Kim Muir last year at this venue when less of a cute ride would have got him up to win. He looks as though he would improve for this distance, having stayed on again in that contest last year, and he is building to a bigger performance. There is a big pot in him, and it was good to see Derek O’Connor get on so well with him at Uttoxeter. The Irish are much of a muchness in this contest outside of the favourite. Mahler Mission seems to hate Cheltenham, while Chemical Energy has little form to make him worthy of a second favourite, and Minnella Crooner is yet to chase the Cheltenham turf.


Daryl Carter’s Best Bets

Time
Race
Our tip
Place bet

1.30 Cheltenham – Marine Nationale (1pt e/w – 9/2 Will Hill, 4/1 generally. Back with firms paying 4 places)
2.10 Cheltenham – El Fabiolo (4pt win – 13/8 generally)
2.50 Cheltenham – Corach Rambler (1pt win – 13/2 generally & Oscar Elite (1pt e/w – 11/1 generally. Skybet pay 8 places, Betfair 7 places bet no less than 6 places) Remastered (1pt e/w – 25/1 Bet365/Unibet, 22/1 generally)
4.10 Cheltenham – Maries Rock (2pt win – 5/2 generally) & Brandy Love (1pt win – 11/2 generally)
5.30 Cheltenham – Mister Coffey TO PLACE (3 places) (2pt win – 6/4 generally)