Cheltenham Festival 2017

Supreme Novices Hurdle

  • Irish trained runners have won 14 of the last 25 renewals

  • 4 of the last 14 winners finished in the first 5 in previous Champion Bumper’s (Moon Racer & Ballyandy)

  • 14 of the last 15 winners had raced within 45 days before winning this race

  • 17 of the last 19 winners were also winners last time out

  • Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 10 renewals

  • 10 of the last 13 favourites that went off at 2/1 or less have been beaten

Moon Racer – won 3 from 3 over course and distance

Ballyandy – 2 wins from 3 at Cheltenham & 5 wins from 8 over distance

Melon – Only 1 run over hurdles but ran out an effortless 10 length winner

Bunk Off Early – 5 length winner on hurdles debut and 3/4length 2nd in Grade 1 last time out

Neon Wolf – unbeaten in 4 career runs, 2 over race distance & 1 over 3miles

River Wylde – unbeaten in 3 over hurdles & 4 wins from 6 over distance

Airlie Beach – 6 wins from 6 over hurdles including a Grade 1 by 6 lengths when last seen

A hugely competitive opening to the 2017 Cheltenham Festival with no less than seven who I believe have a really good chance of getting involved. Willie Mullins has a great record in this race and saddles three of the seven, with Melon being hyped up from just about every angle. His ten length demolition of the field was impressive but the race is yet to produce any other winners and you have to go back to 1992 to find a Supreme winner who had only raced once over hurdles prior to their Supreme victory. The hype may well turn out to be justified but the stats don’t back up his price and for this I have to look elsewhere.

Previous Champion Bumper winners have decent records in the Supreme with four of the last fourteen winners having finished in the top five of the Bumper. This year we will see Moon Racer and Ballyandy, winners of the 2015 and 2016 Bumper respectively, attempt to build on this already impressive stat. Moon Racer has twice got the better of Ballyandy over hurdles yet hasn’t been seen since November while Ballyandy finally got back to winning ways in the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle in February, his first victory since winning last years Bumper.

Bunk Off Early and Airlie Beach cannot be discounted for each way purposes and Neon Wolf would have a great chance if taking up his entry but at the prices I am opting for River Wylde to follow up on Nicky Henderson’s victory in this race last year. Available at odds of up to 12/1 with a couple of bookies, he looks a big price considering he is unbeaten in three over hurdles, all over a two mile trip and won the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices Hurdle on his last run. He finished a neck 2nd in a point-to-point before moving to the Henderson yard so should have the necessary stamina to get up the Cheltenham hill and has won on good, good-to-soft and soft ground so the forecast conditions should play to his strengths.

RIVER WYLDE 12/1 e/w (skybet)


Arkle Trophy

This should be a walk in the park for Altior based on all previous form, however at the prices I think Charbel looks a decent each way bet at double figure odds. He’s won five and placed in a further two from eleven career runs, won on chase debut and finished a respectable six lengths behind Altior at Sandown on what was only his second run over the bigger obstacles.

CHARBEL 10/1 e/w (Whill)


 Champion Hurdle

  • 25 of the last 31 winners were also winners last time out

  • 18 of the last 25 winners had previously won a race at Cheltenham

  • 19 of the last 20 winners had raced in the same calendar year

  • Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 10 renewals

  • Only 2 of the last 24 Christmas Hurdle winners have gone on to win the Champion Hurdle

  • Aged 8+ is a big negative

Brain Power

+Won last time out

-didn’t finish in first 4 in a race at last year’s festival

-never previously won a race at Cheltenham

-not raced since December

Buveur D’Air

+3rd in Supreme last year

+won last time out (unbeaten in 3 this season)

+raced this year

-previously won at Cheltenham

Yanworth

+won at Cheltenham

+placed at last year’s festival (2nd in Neptune)

+won last time out

+raced this year

-Christmas Hurdle winner

Petit Mouchoir

+won last time out

+raced this year

-didn’t finish in first 4 in a race at last year’s festival

-never previously won a race at Cheltenham

Another extremely competitive race! In the absence of Faugheen and Annie Power we have no stand out Willie Mullins runner, although at the time of writing Vroum Vroum Mag is still entered and the hugely likeable and highly versatile 8 year old would have to be considered. In fact, at best odds of 9/1 (non runner, no bet) I have had a couple of quid on her for this race.

In terms of confirmed entries it looks like Alan King and Nicky Henderson hold the key to this race. Yanworth is the current market leader and fits many of the key stats as a potential winner of this race. However, having won the Christmas Hurdle he appears to be at a big disadvantage as only two winners of the last twenty four have gone on to emerge victorious in the Champion Hurdle. He has won nine of his twelve career runs but it’s worth noting that two of the losses came at the last two years’ festivals.

Buveur D’Air finished third in last years’ Supreme, behind Altior and Min but clear of the remainder, and is unbeaten in four since. Having won twice over fences earlier in the season he was then sent back over hurdles at Sandown last month as a warm up for this race and didn’t disappoint, only winning by just over a length but was never off the bridle and couldn’t have made it look much easier if he’d tried.

BUVEUR D’AIR 4/1 (B365)


Neptune

  • 29 of the last 31 winners came from the first five in the betting

  • 10 of the last 26 winners were favourites

  • 26 of the last 27 winners had all raced 3 or more times over hurdles

  • Horses that stared their careers in PTP’s have good records in this race

  • Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 10 renewals

  • Challow Hurdle winners (Messire Des Obeaux) are 0 from 14 when attempting to win the Neptune in the same season, although 7 of the 14 have finished 2nd or 3rd

  • Aged 7+ is a big negative

Neon Wolf is the current favourite, is unbeaten in four over various trips and in varying conditions. Hugely impressive in all runs so far, he looks a worthy favourite and will be difficult to beat if taking his place here rather than the Supreme.

Having said this, Finians Oscar is available at current odds of around 5/1 which I think is huge considering his three commanding victories since joining Colin Tizzard. He’s won over three miles on good ground in a point-to-point, over the Neptune race distance on soft (good-to-soft in places) ground and has also won on soft ground so should have no issues with either conditions or stamina.

Bacardys arrives here on the back of two wins over shorter trips but did win a point-to-point earlier in his career so should handle the step up in trip for this race. A bigger concern would be that he’s been beaten twice on good ground so if the ground continues to dry out as forecast then this would be a big negative for me.

At a bigger price Messire Des Obeaux is worthy of a mention. He disappointed in the Fred Winter at the festival last year but has won three from four since and looks to have enough about him to be able to get involved here.

FINIANS OSCAR 5/1 (B365)


 Ryanair

  • 6 of the last 7 winners had previously won a Grade 1 race

  • 10 of the last 11 winners had previously won a race at Cheltenham

  • 7 of the last 8 winners raced in the King George earlier in the season

  • Nicky Henderson & Jonjo O’Neill have both won this race twice (from 11 renewals)

  • Horses going off at odds of 6/1 or higher have a poor record in this race

Uxizandre put in a fantastic performance to finish second to Un De Sceaux in the Clarence House Chase in January, on what was his first competitive race in almost two years. The winner of this race in 2015, he has an excellent record at Cheltenham with two wins and two seconds from four previous visits and is versatile with regards to ground conditions having won on good right through to heavy. He’s potentially up against some top class opposition and will have to be at his absolute best to get the better of Un De Sceaux but has been given a decent break since returning to action in the hope that there is no ‘bounce’ factor and given his course form he rates as a confident each way option with three places up for grabs.

UXIZANDRE 5/1 e/w (B365)


Albert Bartlett

  • 10 of the last 12 winners came from the first 4 in the betting

  • 5 of the last 7 winners were French imports

  • 19 of the last 23 winners also won last time out

  • 20 of the last 20 winners had their prep run in the February

  • 5 of the last 17 Adonis Hurdle winners went on to win this race (Master Blueeyes)

Cheltenham form can be play such a big part especially in the longer races at the festival so Wholestone looks a cracking each way bet for this years’ Albert Bartlett given that he is unbeaten in two over course and distance and has made the frame in all four previous runs at Cheltenham, proving that he isn’t fazed by the famous hill on the run in. A winner of four of his five races this season (finishing a close second in the other) he has already finished ahead of main rival West Approach on three occasions and has won on both good and soft ground so shouldn’t be inconvenienced whatever the weather. Furthermore, he fits with many of the positive stats for previous winners of this race, being a second season hurdler and the winner of the Classic Novices Hurdle earlier this season – a race where the winner has gone on to with the Albert Bartlett four times from ten, so looks great value against a favourite who is unproven over both track and trip.

WHOLESTONE 6/1 e/w (BV)

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