Horse racing fans are counting down the days to the start of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, arguably the best day’s racing of the year in the sport. The Champion Hurdle is the feature race. However, along with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Arkle Trophy, there is so much to look forward to. Here is a look at who will be on display on day one.
Buveur D’Air Bidding For Third Straight Champion Hurdle
Buveur D’Air has dominated the 2m hurdle division for the last couple of years. If successful in the Champion Hurdle next month, he will join an elite club of horses who have been able to land the race three times. The season started well for Nicky Henderson’s runner as he scored in a strong renewal of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle. That contest included Samcro and Summerville Boy, but it was the defending champion who was too strong for his younger rivals.
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The eight-year-old suffered his first defeat since 2016 when he finished second behind Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle. That run was soon forgotten, though, as he was back in the winner’s enclosure following the Contender’s Hurdle at Sandown.
Two mares in the form of Apple’s Jade and Laurina lead the threat against Buveur D’Air this year and it will be interesting to see if they are good enough to deny the defending champion from his hat-trick.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Opens Meeting
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the traditional curtain raiser for the Cheltenham Festival. As always with the novice races, you should stay up to date with all the latest horse racing tips and predictions from the UK and Ireland over the next few weeks as they will prove very useful for these races. One of the horse which has stood out so far ahead of the Supreme is Fakir d’Oudairies as he has won on both of his two starts this season.
Young Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien has a strong stable of novices in his yard and Fakir d’Oudairies looks to be one of the best of them. Fakir d’Oudairies is the 5/1 favourite with the bookmakers, however, there are a host of horses just behind him in the betting which could be ready to make a name for themselves here inlcuding Angels Breath who won the trial for this race at Ascot and Klassical Dream who is Willie Mullins’ leading chancing according to the latest betting.
Wide Open Arkle Trophy This Year
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The Arkle Trophy has been dominated by a short price favourites in recently years but it does not look like we are going to get that this year which could result in a bigger field than normal. Le Richebourg became the new favourite for the race after winning the Arkle Novices’ Chase at Leopardstown last month. Lalor and Kalashnikov have done very little wrong this season either though and have both taken to fences very well.
The meeting all gets underway on March 12th and there are 28 races scheduled across the week with the Cheltenham Gold Cup set to take place on March 15th.