Cheltenham Day 1 Selections
The 2022 Cheltenham Festival begins on Tuesday and the greatest show on turf gets off to a flying start with seven fantastic races for punters to enjoy. Here at Racing Tips, our racing editor has identified selections for all seven races on the Day 1 card, which includes reasoning and the main dangers to look out for.
Dysart Dynamo (1.30 Cheltenham, Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) 5/2
Willie Mullins continues his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle love affair with a third of the entries in 2022. Although the Closutton maestro perhaps faces a stronger challenge than usual with the likes of Constitution Hill and Jonbon in attendance, it is still difficult to get away from the claims of his DYSART DYNAMO, who runs in the silks of owner-breeder Eleanor Manning.
This 6yo has won all four starts to date, his two hurdles victories coming by 19l winning margins.
The more recent of those two successes came in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novices’ Hurdle, a race that his trainer has used as preparation for recent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winners Vautour and Douvan.
Dysart Dynamo won as he liked that day and this small field should see the gelding able to dominate on the front end once again. He holds the highest rating of these runners and can be backed with confidence to get the Irish off to a winning start in race 1 of the Festival.
Riviere D’etel (2.10 Cheltenham, Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase) 9/2
An Arkle that perhaps lacks the sparkle of previous renewals, but it is still expected to pay to take on Edwardstone, who has dominated in what looks a fairly poor 2m British novice chase division this season.
Little separated Blue Lord and RIVIERE D’ETEL at last month’s Dublin Racing Festival, yet the mare looked an unlucky loser that day suffering notable interference which her jockey thought cost the race.
She had jumped well in the main that day before an uncharacteristic final fence blunder appeared to cost valuable momentum, and the way that she rallied afterwards to almost get back up was not only admirable but also suggested that a stiffer test will prove right up her street.
The 7lb allowance held by these mares has proven a big help in Grade 1s at the Festival in recent years, and as a 5yo, Riviere D’etel appears to hold a greater scope for improvement than most in this line-up.
Kiltealy Briggs (2.50 Cheltenham, Ultima Handicap Chase) 25/1
Connections of KILTEALY BRIGGS have reportedly had the Ultima Handicap Chase – a race that the owner sponsors – in mind for their charge all season, and he can put the well thought out plan to execution with a victory here.
Kiltealy Briggs caught the eye when ninth in the Plate at the Festival last season, and he has taken his form to a new level this campaign, novice chase victories at Haydock and Musselburgh splitting a third in the Grade 1 Kauto Star when far from disgraced behind the likes of Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor.
Cheekpieces fitted the last day are retained, whilst that run strongly suggested that Kiltealy Briggs would appreciate stepping back up in trip, something supported by his pedigree – relation of Grand National winner Ballabriggs.
At odds of 25/1, he looks well worth supporting in a race that doesn’t appear to hold a great amount of strength in depth, with those at the head of the betting arriving with questions to answer.
Honeysuckle (3.30 Cheltenham, Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy) 8/13
Whilst the presence of last year’s wide-margin Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Appreciate It should make this more of a test than it had looked for the majority of the season, it would still be a huge shock if HONEYSUCKLE proved unable to retain her Champion Hurdle crown.
Henry De Bromhead’s stable star is yet to taste defeat in 14 hurdles starts, building on victories in the Hatton’s Grace and Irish Champion Hurdle to take this prize 12 months ago.
Honeysuckle has enjoyed an identical preparation this campaign, which is expected to have teed her up nicely for a return to Prestbury Park, and she should return home with a 15th hurdles win to her name.
Zanahiyr looks a possible each-way angle into the race if the addition of cheekpieces manages to eke out some improvement.
Telmesomethinggirl (4.10 Cheltenham, Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle) 7/2
The best bet on the Tuesday Cheltenham card appears to come in the Mares Hurdle, where last year’s Mares Novice Hurdle winner TELMESOMETHINGGIRL aims to supplement her Festival victory 12 months previous.
The Kenny Alexander owned 7yo took what has turned out to be one of the stronger novice hurdle races at last year’s Festival, streaking clear on the run-in to score by 5 1/2l.
She appears to have been trained with a return to the Festival in mind ever since, building on a modest seasonal comeback when an eye-catching third in a Leopardstown Grade 3 over Christmas.
Telmesomethinggirl did by far the best of the closing horses that day on a track where it often pays to race prominently, whilst she also conceded weight to the two horses directly in front of her. Getting back on level terms favours Telmesomethinggirl here, as does the spring ground, with three of her four career wins coming with the word good in the going description.
Petit Tonnerre (4.50 Cheltenham, Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle) 25/1
A fascinating renewal of the Fred Winter in prospect here, with all eyes on Gaelic Warrior, who is reported to be working as a horse well ahead of his 129 rating.
There are far too many unknowns to put him up as an advised bet here at odds of just 5/2, however, and at a significantly greater price, PETIT TONNERRE can be chanced for owner JP McManus.
This son of Waldpark was privately purchased after winning two starts in France for previous trainer Jean-Pierre Dubois, the most recent of those successes coming at Compiegne when seeing off a subsequent Listed scorer in Heart Wood.
This gelding joined Jonjo O’Neill’s yard after that success and made a winning start for the stable in a three-runner Market Rasen handicap hurdle last month, beating an in-form course specialist in Presuming Ed.
The 2 1/2l margin of victory recorded that day would have been far greater had Petit Tonnerre not made a complete Horlicks of the final hurdle and it was noteworthy the way in which Petit Tonnerre recovered from that to score without being given anywhere near the full oracle by jockey Jonjo O’Neill Jr, who maintains the partnership.
A 3lb rise for that Market Rasen success puts Petit Tonnerre on a mark of 138, which requires him to carry topweight, yet the likes of Aramax and Band Of Outlaws have carried big weights to victory in this in recent years, so this should not prove a barrier to Petit Tonnerre’s chances of success.
Run Wild Fred (5.30 Cheltenham, Ukraine Appeal National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase) 15/8
The Irish dominate this year’s National Hunt Chase with only Rebecca Curtis posing any form of opposition.
Previous chase experience has proven invaluable in this down the years and this tilts things in favour of second-season chaser RUN WILD FRED.
Last season’s Irish Grand National runner-up has shown improved form this term, running out an impressive winner of the Troytown at Navan in November before bumping into stablemate Fury Road at Leopardstown.
He appears to have the beating of Vanillier on that running and although Stattler poses a challenge he lacks the experience in this sphere having had just the two previous starts over the large obstacles.
Run Wild Fred’s stablemate Braeside is no forlorn hope but a 2-20 career record suggests he may be a little vulnerable from a win perspective, particularly with 10lb to find if the selection runs to his mark.