Day One, also known as Champion Hurdle Day (or just Tuesday to some) is the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival 2018 and always an amazing spectacle. The Festival kicks of with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle; run over just over two miles, this is effectively the trial run for Champion Hurdle winners of the future. A mixture of speed and stamina is needed to win the opener, while plenty of grit and determination is always a huge help.
The opening race of Day One is followed by the Arkle Chase, run over a similar distance. Often featuring horses who have performed well in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the second race of Day One of the Cheltenham Festival is a novices’ chase named after the legendary Arkle. Winners of this tend to go on to compete in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in future years.
Race three of Day One is the first handicap of the Cheltenham Festival; the Ultima Handicap Chase. Run over three miles and one furlong, this always attracts a large field with a prize of over £60,000 for the winner, and horses rated as high as 155 can line up. There are always plenty of recognisable names with past winners including Un Temps Pour Tout and Wichita Lineman.
Up next on Day One is the main event of the day, the Champion Hurdle. The fastest race over obstacles at Cheltenham Festival, the speed of the race is breathtaking, and this year sees last year’s winner Buveur D’Air line up to defend his crown. Unbeaten for trainer Nicky Henderson in 9 of his ten runs (his only defeat came when finishing 3rd in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle here in 2016), he has been impressive on all three of his starts this year. Faugheen will have to be at his very best to regain the title he last won in 2015.
The fifth race of Day One at Cheltenham Festival, and the last of the day shown on ITV, is the Mares Hurdle. Strong favourite Apples’ Jade is rated above anything else in the field and doesn’t have to reface Limini or Vroum Vroum Mag, so looks a strong favourite.
The final two races of the day are the Challenge Cup – a Novices’ Chase where only amateur riders’ are allowed to compete – and the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, a Listed race over two and a half miles. Both are always highly competitive contests with plenty of big price winners over the years.