Cheltenham Festival 2021 - day one tips, Paul Nicholls previews his Tuesday runners and the Worst Tuesday picks for the Betfair Sportsbook
It's day one of the Cheltenham Festival 2021. Here are Betfair's tips, Paul Nicholls' preview to his runners and the Worst Tuesday picks for the Betfair Sportsbook
Visit Betfair for more informationFry can deny Mullins in the Supreme
Metier - 13:20 Cheltenham
Appreciate It and Metier both put their unbeaten records over hurdles on the line here, and while Willie Mullins's charge has looked impressive in landing all three of his races this term, it is Harry Fry's Metier who gets the vote to land a first blow for the home-trained contingent. Metier took his tally to three from three over hurdles with a smart performance in the Tolworth at Sandown in January, landing a first Grade 1 with plenty in hand, and he could be worth siding with at the current prices.
Shishkin to justify favouritism
Shishkin - 13:55 Cheltenham
Timeform's highest-rated novice is one of the star attractions on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, with the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin expected to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the Arkle Chase. Shishkin has conquered all before him on his three starts over fences this term and remains with the potential for better still. He is impossible to oppose in this race.
Happygolucky - 14:30 Cheltenham
Happygolucky proved his wellbeing in a big-field contest when fourth in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at last year's Festival, so he should not be fazed by the number of rivals he faces in this contest, and he has made up into a smart performer over fences this season, winning two of his three starts, including a novice chase here in December. He remains with the potential for further improvement, and considering novices have a good record in this race, he looks the one to side with.
Sweet on Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle - 15:05 Cheltenham
Winner of the Mares' Hurdle at last year's Festival, Honeysuckle has taken her form up another notch this season, making a winning return in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse, before taking her unbeaten record to 10 from 10 in the Irish Champion Hurdle last month, winning with plenty to spare. She is in receipt of a sex allowance, which puts her 3 lb clear at the head of Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings, and this exceptional mare will surely take plenty of beating.
Concertista to continue strong Cheltenham run
Concertista - 15:40 Cheltenham
Concertista has a cracking record at the Cheltenham Festival, finishing second in the Dawn Run on what was her first start over hurdles in 2019, before going one better in the same race last year, showing much improved form to run right away with the race. She has continued her progression this term, landing a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse on her return before producing a career best to easily land a Grade 3 at Leopardstown in December, and she looks the clear one to beat in this race.
Nicholls' contender can land honours
Houx Gris - 16:15 Cheltenham
Purchased for €200,000 following a victory in his native France in October, Houx Gris shaped better than the bare result on his first outing for Paul Nicholls at Chepstow in January, finishing third in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle. He was still right in the mix when making a mess of the second last on that occasion, and he is a very interesting contender in a race that the Nicholls yard has traditionally fared well in.
Mullins to land the last
Next Destination - 16:50 Cheltenham
Beaten on just one of his five starts over hurdles for Willie Mullins, and that came in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the 2018 Festival, Next Destination has made a cracking start to life over fences since joining Paul Nicholls's yard, impressing with Grade 2 successes at Newbury and Warwick. There should be better still to come from this impressive jumper, and with the step up in trip also likely to play to his strengths, he gets the vote in this card closer.
Paul Nicholls Runners:
Paul Nicholls has four runners on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, and here the Betfair Ambassador discusses his chances of bagging a winner or two...
On a fair mark and I'm hopeful of a big run
16:15 - Houx Gris
I've fancied him for this handicap for a while and deliberately kept him fresh for it since he ran a race full of promise on desperate ground in the Finale Hurdle at Chepstow early in January. We hadn't had him long and he travelled strongly to the second last before keeping on to finish third. That form is smart and having had a little break he has settled into our routine now. Houx Gris is another who will like better ground, his mark of 128 is fair and I am hopeful of a big run. He is very much in the mould of Diego du Charmil who won this race five years ago.
Has improved tonnes since last run and is not without a chance
16:15 - Hell Red
He won nicely on his debut for us on good ground at Chepstow but then choked on his next start so had a breathing op shortly afterwards. I had to get one more run into him before Cheltenham but the ground at Wincanton was heavy and he needed the outing badly so he ran ok before tiring late on. Hell Red has improved tonnes since then and will be much happier on the drying ground on Tuesday. He is not without a chance.
Continues to progress and has a solid chance
16:50 - Next Destination
I spent a long time on the phone on Saturday night with his owner Malcom Denmark weighing up all the options before we decided to go for the NH Chase rather than the Brown Advisory a day later. Three miles on nearly good ground would not be ideal for Next Destination who is a stout stayer, so with Royal Pagaille heading for the Gold Cup it made sense to go for the race that suited us best on what is likely to be the slowest ground of the week. Next Destination continues to progress, jumps soundly and will be galloping on strongly up the hill. Solid chance.
Fresh and well but needs to step up further
16:50 - Soldier Of Love
Malcolm has a useful second contender in Soldier of Love who made giant strides in the summer and has enjoyed a nice little holiday while waiting for ground conditions to come in his favour. He was rated 113 on his first start over fences for us and is now up to 144 after winning four in a row earlier this season before finishing second to Galvin who is favourite for this race. Soldier of Love was then over the top when he struggled on soft ground in November. While he is fresh and well he probably needs to step up again.
Cheltenham 2021 - Top 5 worst results for the Betfair Sportsbook
Betfair Spokesman, Barry Orr, commented today: ‘’On the eve of Cheltenham, as things currently stand, the top 5 worst results for the Betfair Sportsbook are -
Happygolucky – The Ultima, Tuesday
‘’The Ultima looks a weak since declarations came through and we are only seen money for one horse and that’s Happygolucky. Kim Bailey has good record in these types of races at the Cheltenham Festival and punters can see no other winner in this. He’s 7/2 from 5/1’’
Goshen – The Champion, Tuesday
‘’Since Goshen's impressive win in the Kingwell Hurdle he's been very popular amongst backers to gain redemption in the Champion Hurdle and is now challenging Epatante for the second favourite spot behind Honeysuckle. Currently 4/1’’