The 2015 Cheltenham Festival is finally here. The famous Cheltenham roar will kick things off in the Supreme Novices Hurdle, with a further six races to enjoy at Prestbury Park. It's a marathon and not a sprint, but here are the best three bets to get stuck in to on day one.
The feature race on day one is the Champion Hurdle and a fascinating contest is in store. He might still be priced up more on potential than proven form, but everything points to the unbeaten Faugheen being a superstar and now is his chance to prove it on the track against the best opposition around.
Last year's winner Jezki shouldn't be dismissed lightly now he'll get his ideal conditions, whilst The New One will be popular with those who believe he was unlucky last year. Neither, however, has created the visual impression that Faugheen has and the Irish will be looking at him as one of their bankers of the week. If the other Willie Mullins hot favourites do the business the bookies will be on the back foot!
For those that like to back horses based on their names, Ned Stark is likely to be popular with Game Of Thrones fan, however he also looks to have a superb chance on form. The lightly raced chaser runs in the Grade 3 Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase and it's no surprise to see him prominent in the market.
Ned Stark created a really good impression when landing the Grade 2 Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby, where I thought he won with a bit up his sleeve under a typically cool ride from Dennis O'Regan. The handicapper appears to have been more than fair after that run and he looks to be well treated here. Of course it won't be straightforward, as most Cheltenham handicaps always prove a tricky puzzle, but he looks to be a quickly improving horse that can take this race en route to bigger things.
The four-mile National Hunt Novice Chase now tends to attract better quality horses, and this year's favourite is the high class Very Wood, who won the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the festival twelve months ago. That day he showed abundant stamina to power up the famous Cheltenham hill and he looks absolutely certain to relish this extra distance.
As a typical Gigginstown horse he was always built to excel over fences, and whilst things have been far from straight forward this season, he got firmly back on track with a Grade 2 win at Navan last month. That was his best performance over fences to date and if he turns up in the same form here he will prove incredibly difficult to built. He'll be partnered by the excellent Nina Carberry, who has an incredible clock in her head, and she can deliver him to success.
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