Welcome to our new Road To Cheltenham Antepost Portfolio series. These are all written by one of the team of tipsters here at myracing, and will include write-ups and bets placed by himself – including screenshots or pictures of betslips wherever possible. The tips and write-ups may not match what we eventually tip for the race, but they do reflect the tipster’s own opinions as he seeks to make Antepost profit on the biggest Festival of them all.
It is just three months until the ‘Greatest Show On Turf’ begins. The 13th of March will see the famous roar as the tapes fly back for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. No better time then to start our ‘Road To Cheltenham’ series as we build up to the 2018 Festival. We are doing things a little differently this time around, dipping our toes into the antepost waters each week, trying to find a couple who will beat the bookies once we come to March! We begin our first update with Day 1.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The traditional curtain raiser for the meeting, 12 of the last 20 renewals have gone back to Ireland including 4 of the last 5. No surprise then that 5 of the top 6 in the early betting represent the Irish. They are topped by Mengli Khan, who unusually for this event is a second season hurdler. On the bare early season form, his win in the Grade 1 Royal Bond sees him deservedly installed favourite. The best of his form both on the flat and over hurdles has come on soft ground which is a concern given the usual day 1 conditions.
Sharjah looks the most likely of the Closutton contingent at present but DEBUCHET (20/1) is the eyecatcher. Runner-up to Fayonagh in the Champion Bumper at the 2017 Festival, she was at the head of the betting at the time of her passing. Debuchet attracted support in the bumper, clearly well regarded by the Mags Mullins team. Responsible for Albert Bartlett 2015 winner Martello Tower, Mullins knows how to get them ready and while we won’t see his hurdling debut until Christmas – given his form – if he had a different Mullins next to his name, he wouldn’t be a 20/1 shot.
Arkle Novices’ Chase
A couple of bubbles were burst for the Arkle last weekend as both Finian’s Oscar and Brain Power were comprehensively outpointed by Sceau Royal. That horse turned form round in no uncertain terms with North Hill Harvey from his chasing debut at Cheltenham. Harvey perhaps has an excuse that he had run between those run on much softer ground than Sceau Royal had, but he has to prove himself as a spring horse in any case.
Sceau Royal was further back in the Champion Hurdle than either Petit Mouchoir or FOOTPAD (5/1) so despite that impressive performance, he has a bit to do to turn round the form. Petit Mouchoir twice got the better of Footpad last season when getting a relatively soft time of things on the front end but the selection has always promised to make a better chaser. He is the most impressive novice seen over two miles this season, beating Brelade 4 lengths further than Petit Mouchoir had the time before and jumping better to boot. He looks very much the one to beat at present.
A much shorter price to finish off with, the defending champion APPLE’S JADE (6/4) looks to return to the Mares Hurdle in what looks a relatively weak division. She was not always seen at her best last year upon moving from Willie Mullins but got it right at the Festival. She looks to have progressed further this year, slamming Stayers Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon in the Hatton’s Grace. She would not look out of place in that contest, but “She’ll probably get an entry for the Stayers but it’s 100 per cent that she’ll go for the mares race” was the opinion of Gordon Elliot in the aftermath there, she’ll be odds on come the day.
Please note these are current thoughts, opinions can change so the selections are not guaranteed to be our tips come March.