Day One of the Cheltenham Festival 2019 gets underway on Tuesday 12th March with one of the greatest weeks of racing anywhere in the world. Held over four days, the Cheltenham Festival has an incredible amount of twists and turns, heroes and heroines with day one at last year’s festival particularly memorable.
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Cheltenham Tuesday Tips & Schedules
Cheltenham Day 1 Tips 2019, Tuesday 12th March, Day 1 Schedule
|Time||Race||Cheltenham Day 1 Tips 2019|
|13:30||Supreme Novices' Hurdle||Read Tip|
|14:10||Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase||ReadTip|
|14:50||Ultima Handicap Chase||Read Tip|
|15:30||Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy||Read Tip|
|16:10||Mares’ Hurdle||Read Tip|
|16:50||Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase||Read Tip|
|17:30||National Hunt Challenge Cup Chase||Read Tip|
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Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2019
Race 1, Tuesday 12th March 1:30
A cracking Grade 1 to start of a fantastic four days of racing at Cheltenham, with the best novice hurdlers from Britain and Ireland competing and a cracking betting race on the day as reputations and hype meet the harsh reality of a strong run two miles in a huge field of inexperienced horses.
The 2019 renewal has a wide open look with the bookmakers currently offering “5/1 the field” and no standout superstar yet to emerge from Ireland (in recent times horses like the well backed 2016 winner Altior have landed a wholesale public plunge to get punters off to a flying start).
Racing Post Arkle Challenge 2019
Race 2, Tuesday 12th March 2:10
The 2m Grade 1 Novice Chase is a fantastic spectacle, with young up and coming chasers putting their tall reputations to the test over two miles in a contest always run at a strong gallop. Top yards like Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson have dominated this valuable prize in the past decade, with Un de Sceaux and Douvan both taking this to land hefty market confidence from their Irish followers.
They have gone on to be top class performers as they have matured, and the 2017 winner Altior has yet to taste defeat over fences (and is likely to enhance that record in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2019).
This season promises to be a cracking betting heat, with the bookmakers currently offering “5/1 the field” and none of the major yards holding any aces. Perhaps it will be a chance for either Kayley Woolacott (Lalor) or Amy Weaver (Kalashnikov) to put their much smaller training operations firmly on the map.
Ultima Handicap Chase 2019
Race 3, Tuesday 12th March 2:50
This competitive Grade 3 handicap over 3m1f is open to 5-y-o and upwards, and is always one of the most open handicaps of the entire meeting. The ante-post market tends to be quiet and this is one of the lower key betting heats of the week, with options of the main contenders left open until declarations and the bookmakers always betting at least “10/1 the field” in the build up. This season is no different with the “old rogue” Singlefarmpayment currently the 14/1 favourite in most lists.
English trainers have dominated this prize, with no Irish winner since Dun Doire for Willie Mullins in 2006, and 2018 saw a popular winner as the well punted Coo Star Sivola landed quite a gamble under an inspired ride from Lizzie Kelly.
Unibet Champion Hurdle 2019
Race 4, Tuesday 12th March 3:30
The Grade 1 Champion hurdle is one of the highlights of the entire four days at the Festival, with top class proven hurdlers clashing over two miles. This race has produced some prolific legends over the years, with Sea Pigeon, Istabraq, Hardy Eustace, Hurricane Fly and now Buveur D’Air all winning the race at least twice in recent history.
In 2018 there was a very popular win for the heavily supported 4/6f Buveur D’Air, repeating his 2017 triumph with a game victory over Melon in a substandard renewal. He seems sure to be a short-priced favourite again this year, but lost his unbeaten record at Kempton on the nod over Christmas (to stablemate Verdana Blue), and certainly does not have the aura of invincibility of some of the prolific heroes of the past.
Bookmakers currently make him a top priced 6/4f chance to notch win number three, and it will be fascinating to see if the promising mare Laurina takes him on or opts for the soft option in the Mares hurdle later in the week (not off the bridle to take that prize in 2018 and held in the highest regard at home by Willie Mullins).
Mares Hurdle 2019
Race 5, Tuesday 12th March 4:10
This 2m3f Grade 1 hurdle confined to mares has been milked by Willie Mullins over the past decade, with the top class trainer winning it an incredible nine times since 2009. This is one of the least competitive contests of the week, with minimal betting interest in the build up and very few realistic form contenders on paper.
In 2018 Bernie Des Dieux took the prize under a brilliant ride from Ruby Walsh for his regular employer, and the mare seems sure to go very close to repeating the success in 2019 (currently a solid 4/1 second favourite). The current warm 6/4f favourite Apples Jade was reportedly “in season” when disappointing at 1/2f in this race last year, and plenty will expect Gordon Elliot’s 2017 winner to reverse the form this time around.
Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase 2019
Race 6, Tuesday 12th March 4:50
Another very competitive Listed handicap to round off Day 1, with formlines from Britain and Ireland to try and compare as a big field of novice chasers race over 2m4f. There are usually a few quiet ones laid out for this race, and the market can be a significant guide particularly to some of the lightly raced Irish raiders.
In 2018 Mister Whitaker landed a popular win for the English flat orientated trainer Mick Channon (ably assisted by Best Mate’s retired handler Henrietta Knight), showing a tenacious attitude in a tight finish from the last. Those connections will be hoping for a similar story in 2019 with their Glen Forsa, who comes here on the back of an impressive rout at Kempton in January (jumped superbly for one so inexperience).
National Hunt Chase 2019
Race 7, Tuesday 12th March 5:30
The longest race of the Festival, run over four miles for 5-y-o and upwards, with the contest restricted to amaetur riders only. This Grade 2 novice chase is always a terrific spectacle, and the skill of the respective jockeys is always a telling factor in who comes out on top up the hill.
Top amateurs like Patrick Mullins and Derek O’Connor are worth siding with, illustrated by their wins in 2018 (Rathvinden) and 2016 (Minella Rocco). The latter jockey is set to ride the 2019 short-priced favourite OK Corral, who looks a class above some more exposed handicappers after winning both of his starts over fences impressively so far (does have to prove his stamina for this marathon trip but shapes as though it will suit ideally).
Cheltenham 2019 Champion Day Races
After never ending months of build up, hype and excitement, the wait is finally over for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Day 1 is often thought of as the best days racing of the entire week, with the Supreme Novice hurdle to start things off bringing together the best of the English and Irish young stars to lock horns in what is always one of the biggest betting heats of the meeting. It is a race where tall reputations are often tarnished (with completely different circumstances for most of these inexperienced horses sorting out the best from the pretenders).
In 2018 there was a remarkable performance from Tom George’s Summerville Boy, who got up after the last despite all but falling two out when making rapid headway from rear, foiling a hefty gamble on the runner-up Kalashnikov in the process. Unfortunately the winner suffered an injury and is out for the season, but the second has made a smooth transition to chasing this winter and is one to look out for at the 2019 Festival.
The Arkle Chase is one of three Grade 1s on the day and is always a fascinating clash between the best young chasers in both Britain and Ireland. Last season saw Footpad win impressively to the delight of punters who had hammered him down to 4/5f, and they rarely had a moments worry as he sauntered clear on the bridle in a contest run at a brutal gallop from the tape.
Buveur D’Air (sent off a red hot 4/6f) was another very popular winner of the 2018 Champion hurdle, retaining his crown in workmanlike style, and he seems sure to take an awful lot of beating in the 2019 renewal (despite suffering his first defeat at 2/9f over Christmas at Kempton).
Some cracking big field handicaps mean this opening day has everything, with a mix of potential champions alongside established big names in the Graded races, and the thrill of 8/1 the field handicaps that set punters the trickiest of puzzles to solve.
Where is the value on Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival? Our racing editor Stephen Harris guides you through each race of the Cheltenham Day 1, with race analysis, the latest news and info and of course, each of his Cheltenham Day 1 tips.