Cheltenham Day 1 Recap and Results
The waiting is finally over and the first day of the 2019 Cheltenham festival was not short of surprises. In all the seven races, not many favorites were able to finish in the top three positions. It was a good day for the bookmakers and an entertaining set of seven races for the fans. In the day’s feature race (3300m Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy), Apple’s Jade, Buveur D’Air and Laurina, the highlights of the race, disappointed the fans a great deal. This should serve as a warning to all the pundits out there. You should be careful in how you choose your favorites for the remaining races because seemingly, champions should be predicted based on their stats and not necessarily the hype surrounding their names.
For the first race, the 3300m Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Grade 1, Klassical Dream (6/1), trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh made it to the first position. He was followed closely by Thomas Darby (28/1) and Itchy feet (25/1) who are both trained by Olly Murphy. In the 3200m Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices, Duc Des Genievres managed to beat all the others to the finish line. Under Jockey Paul Townend, the horse granted Willie Mullins the second victory and he was followed by Us And Them and Articulum in the 2nd and 3rd position respectively. Nicky Henderson’s Beware the Bear topped the 5000m Ultima Handicap Chase Grade 3, followed by Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad. The Unibet Champion Hurdle as mentioned earlier brought down the roof on most pundit’s bets. The favorite Buveur D’Air toppled very early in the race while Laurina and Apple’s Jade struggled to finish fourth and sixth respectively. Espoir D’Allen treated fans to a spectacle after winning the race having beaten the runners-up with a margin of 15 lengths! Melon and Silver Streak followed in the second and third position in that order.
In order to get Cheltenham best bets, you need to note down the stats especially those of the horses. The most common and the best factors to consider especially in the Gold Cup include odds, ratings, age and the amount of time taken in rest before the competition. 80% of the last 20 winners came from the first three horses with the lowest odds as favorites. In the last two decades, over 50% of winners had been rated 170 and above and only two have ever managed to top with a rating of less than 166. The ages 7-9, seem to carry the winning bets as eighteen of the last twenty champions in the Gold Cup emerged victorious while in that age bracket. Finally, rest is important for a horse as it enables the accumulation of energy and the relaxing of the nerves. Of the last 20 winners in the Gold Cup, 70% rested for a period of more than 40 days.
In the fifth race of the first day, the OLBG Mare’s Hurdle, Benie Des Dieux, unfortunately, fell just at the final flight. He seemed to be a favorite but his fall gave way to Harry Skelton on the back of Roksana followed by Stormy Ireland as second and Good Thyne Tara in the third position. For the 4000m Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, A Plus Tard, under jockey Rachael Blackmore and trainer Henry De Bromhead emerged top, Tower Bridge took the second position and Ben Dundee the third. The final race of the day, the National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase was won by Le Breuil under jockey Jamie Codd. The horse’s trainer is Ben Pauling. In the second and third position were Discorama and Jerrysback respectively. This race was perhaps the most dramatic as of the 18 horses that left the starting line, 14 fell out including Ballyward.