Cheltenham Festival Preview
Tuesday, March 14
First Race: 1.30pm (7 races)
The 2017 Cheltenham Festival begins on Tuesday afternoon and the Irish challenge kicks off with Melon in the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (1.30). Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh have teamed up to win the festival opener for three of the last four years with Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan and this time the pair team up with the hugely-exciting Melon who won his only start in Ireland by ten lengths at Leopardstown.
The Racing Post Arkle (2.10) is all about Altior who is odds-on favourite and unbeaten over fences and it would be a surprise if any of the Irish challengers, the best of which look to be the Willie Mullins-trained Royal Caviar and Some Plan from the Henry De Bromhead stable, were able to trouble the hotpot.
Petit Mouchoir is the big Irish hope in the Stan James Champion Hurdle (3.20) and Henry De Bromhead's star comes into the race on the back of two Grade 1 wins at Leopardstown.
The OLBG Mares Hurdle (4.10) looks sure to produce an Irish winner as we have the top four in the market. There were more than a few raised eyebrows when Ruby Walsh decided to jump off defending champion Vroum Vroum Mag and get on Limini instead, while Apple's Jade and Jer's Girl also look to have live chances for Gordon Elliott and Gavin Cromwell respectively.
The action on day one of the Cheltenham Festival begins at 1.30 and there are seven races to savour. The going is currently good to soft.