Day 1 of the you-know-what today, with the centrepiece at 3.30, when the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy takes place.

Favourite at 4-6 is the unbeaten Honeysuckle, who is trying to repeat her victory of last year under Our Rach. She may well do so, although hot on her hooves in the betting is the very dark horse Appreciate It, last seen winning the Supreme Novices by no less than 24 lengths. A setback means that we’ve not seen the 8-y-o since, but confidence appears to be exuding from the Mullins‘ camp and it’s quite possible that these two will outclass the rest of the field.

That scenario, however, overlooks the claims of the 2020 winner, which goes by the name of Epatante, which, to non-Francophiles, means ‘exciting’.

Nicky Henderson‘s girl was never quite right last season, but still managed to finish third in this race and has pouched the Fighting Fifth and the Christmas Hurdle en route to Cheltenham this year. Said to be ‘bouncing’ by her Trainer, we can’t resist an each way bet at an almost derisory 18-1.

The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle kicks off proceedings at 1.30 and let’s hope for a home win with Constitution Hill, also trained by NJH.

It is not possible to equate and compare the English and Irish form but the Trainer knows what it takes to win this (think Altior & Shishkin) and in Constitution Hill he has turned up another ‘freak’. We hope so, anyway, and recommend a win bet at 9-4.

We think the best of the Irish challengers could be Mighty Potter and, as such, suggest an each way bet at 8-1.

Another English trained horse is favourite for the Arkle Challenge Trophy at 2.20, namely Edwardstone, which has mopped up its last four chases with a fair amount of ease. However, we believe the form from across the water to be stronger in this division and recommend a win bet on Riviere D’Etel at 4-1 together with a each way punt on Haut En Couleurs at 15-2.

At 2.50 we get the first of the ‘impossible’ handicaps, the Ultima Handicap Chase, with a field of a mere 24.

We put up three in hope – Gericault Roque (12-1), Tea Clipper (12-1) and the statutory Irish runner Doctor Duffy at 33-1.

Final televised race is the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at 4.10 and this race is more wide open than in recent years at 4-1 the field.

As per, Irish horses dominate the market and we can’t choose between Queens Brook and Telmesomethinggirl – so, tell you what, lets back ’em both at 4-1.

The promised analysis of the Sedgefield seller has not materialised, mostly because there isn’t one, so until tomorrow……..


Epatante 3.30 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 18-1

Constitution Hill 1.30 Cheltenham 3pts win @ 9-4

Mighty Potter 1.30 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 8-1

Riviere D’Etel 2.10 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 4-1

Haute En Couleurs 2.10 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 15-2 (4 places)

Gericault Roque 2.50 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (7 places Hills/Skybet)

Tea Clipper 2.50 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (7 places Hills/Skybet)

Doctor Duffy 2.50 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 33-1 (7 places Hills/Skybet)

Queens Brook 4.10 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 4-1

Telmesomethinggirl 4.10 Cheltenham 2pts win @ 4-1

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