Cheltenham 2019: Day One at a glance

All you need to know ahead of opening day of racing’s biggest festival at Prestbury Park

Apple’s Jade (right) on the gallops ahead of Champion Day of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

Apple’s Jade (right) on the gallops ahead of Champion Day of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

 

The 2019 Cheltenham Festival is finally here. At 1.30pm on Tuesday the tape will drop and the loudest roar of the week will ring around Prestbury Park for the start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Here’s Day One at a glance.

The schedule

1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

2.10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

3.30 Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)

4.10 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

4.50 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

5.30 National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase

What’s the official going?

This morning the Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse declared the going as good to soft, soft in places.

How can I follow?

Virgin Media One and ITV will show the first five races on the card each day, with subscription service Racing TV the only channel to show the full card. However, you can follow every race and see all the results on the Irish Times liveblog which starts at 1pm.

What’s the big race of the day?

Champion Hurdle (3.30pm)

Tuesday is Champion Hurdle day, and this year’s looks like a particularly fascinating renewal. Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air (11-4) is bidding for a third-consecutive win in the race, but he faces perhaps his biggest challenge yet this time round.

Currently at the top of the bidding is Gordon Elliott’s superstar mare Apple’s Jade (15-8), who has been in stunning form this year and has now racked up 10 victories at Grade One level. With the 7lb mares’ allowance, Apple’s Jade could be difficult to stop, despite her questionable course form.

Also in the mix is Willie Mullins’ prodigious mare Laurina (4-1). She lacks the experience of her two market rivals but already has a lofty reputation and is would relish testing ground. Further down the betting Espoir D’Allen (16-1), Melon (16-1) and Sharjah (16-1) have barely been mentioned, but Melon pushed Buveur D’Air all the way in this race last year and Sharjah is a Grade One winner. A classic could be in store.

Who are the day’s current favourites?

1.30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle - Al Dancer , Angels Breath, Klassical Dream 9-2jf

2.10 Arkle Challenge Trophy - Glen Forsa 7-2

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase - Give Me A Copper 13-2

3.30 Champion Hurdle - Apple’s Jade 15-8

4.10 Mares’ Hurdle - Benie Des Dieux 5-6

4.50 Close Brothers - A Plus Tard 6-1

5.30 National Hunt Chase - Ballyward 5-2

Who should I back?

Guest tipster Tony Keenan’s first day fancies are as follows:

2.10 Arkle Challenge Trophy - Us And Them 14-1 (E-W)

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase - Up For Review 8-1 (E-W)

3.30 Champion Hurdle - Apple’s Jade 15-8

You can get his full lowdown here.

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