The time for talking is over. Strap yourselves in and don't look back. The Cheltenham Festival is here!
When the tapes go up in the Supreme Novices Hurdle (1:30) - we roar.
Will Getabird follow in the footsteps of stablemates Douvan and Vautour or will he become another Min, My Tent Or Yours or Cue Card - all of whom were beaten at short prices in the Cheltenham Festival opener? I can certainly see the logic behind his status as the market leader, but he's far too short considering the question marks surrounding his ability to act on a left-handed track.
The race has a nice each-way shape to it and FIRST FLOW looks a decent punting alternative to the favourite.
The rain has come at the perfect time for the six-year-old, who is unbeaten over timber, including running away with the Sky Bet Supreme Trial at Haydock. He possesses the perfect mix of speed and stamina, which makes him an intriguing runner in what does look an open race if you take out the favourite.
Money Back Offer
Sky Bet are refunding all losing bets on the first race each day at the Cheltenham Festival.
FOOTPAD is the day's good thing in the Racing Post Arkle Chase (2:10) for those that like steaming into a short priced one. Champion trainer Willie Mullins has called him one of the best novice chasers to have come from his yard, which is a statement that needs respecting considering the talent that has jumped fences at Mullins' base.
Footpad has been faultless over the bigger obstacles, showing a jumping technique absolutely perfect for two-mile chasing. He's big, he's bold and he jumps at top speed - unlike his chief market rival Petit Mouchoir, who looks a far better hurdler than chaser and is well held by Footpad on their form from Leopardstown.
BUVEUR D'AIR and APPLE'S JADE should win the Champion Hurdle (3:30) and Mares Hurdle (4:10), respectively, although you don't really need me to tell you that - their short prices should be enough of a giveaway. Both races are no-bet affairs for me.
Trainer Anthony Honeyball has had a wretched few months following the death of his stable star Fountains Windfall but out of the gloom may appear a Cheltenham Festival winner. The predicted slower surface enhances the chances of MS PARFOIS in the National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase (4:50).
You can set your clock by the seven-year-old mare in terms of her performance level. She jumps superbly, tries her heart out and brings all-important Graded form to the table in this race.
Six of the last seven winners of the National Hunt Chase had all run in a Graded chase and Ms Parfois' effort behind Black Corton in the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot reads very well when comparing it to the form brought to the table by the Irish challenge, which doesn't look the strongest this year. Jury Duty isn't certain to relish the four-mile trip while Rathvinden may struggle to keep pace with the principles despite the marathon trip.
SHANTOU FLYER represents solid each-way value in the Ultima Handicap Chase (2:50). On a straight form line through favourite Coo Star Sivola, the selection is well overpriced as he's 8lbs better off in this race despite having beating Coo Star Sivola at Cheltenham last time out. The discrepancy in price between the two horses is pretty staggering.
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Follow our tip for Footpad to win and Ms Parfois and Barney Dwan to place at 8/1 with Sky Bet here.
BARNEY DWAN, who runs in the Close Brothers Handicap Chase (5:30), has standout form from the Pertemps Final last season when second behind the very classy Presenting Percy. It's that run, added to his impressive runs to date over fences which gives him a very strong chance in the lucky last. One year on, he comes back to the Festival as a talented novice chaser racing off the same mark in what looks a far easier race than what the Pertemps was.
Advised tips with staking plan:
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