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Cheltenham Festival – 15th March Day 1

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We have waited so long to hear the Cheltenham roar. A 2-year stretch that has seemed like a lifetime to most racing fans, but we have finally made it back. There are so many sub-plots to this year’s festival, will the British team take another battering? Can Tiger Roll bring the curtain down on his stellar career with a 6th Festival success? Who will come out on top in round 2 of Shishkin vs Energumene? Which one of Willies battalion will win the Bumper?

On Tuesday morning, that all lies ahead of us. All the months of form study, Antepost betting and best guessing as to which novice will run in which race is soon to come to an end. There will be highs and lows, but none of us would change it for a moment, simply because it’s Cheltenham. Here are our best bets for Day 1:

NAP

2:10pm Sporting Life Arkle – EDWARDSTONE

Last year the British managed just 2 Grade 1 winners at the festival (Shishkin and Chantry House), but we have some good early chances to get on the board on Tuesday and the most solid of those is Alan King’s EDWARDSTONE. He was the best of these over hurdles and although he is likely to be the oldest in the lineup, he has probably achieved the most over fences this season. He already has a Grade 1 win on his CV, taking out the Henry VIII Novices Chase at Sandown in December, by 16-lengths we might add. Except for his seasonal return, when he was unlucky to be brought down at Warwick, he has been floorless over fences and has far fewer questions to answer than his mainly Irish trained rivals. Alan King hasn’t had a festival winner since Uxizandre in 2015, but he hasn’t had many runners with the ability of Edwardstone and in a race that is likely to be run to suit, he rates a solid bet.

NB

5:30pm National Hunt Chase – RUN WILD FRED

Experience counts for so much in this race and there isn’t a single horse in the field to compare to the achievements of RUN WILD FRED. Beaten less than 2-lengths in last year’s Irish National, he is perhaps a little fortunate to still have his novice status, but he has added to his impressive CV by winning the Troytown this season and finishing 2nd in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase over Christmas. A horse with enough ability to win a Troytown on a mark of 145, should have too much class for his rivals here.

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