Day One : Cheltenham Tips Are you with or against Hurricane Fly?

Put that phone on silent. Make sure the betting account is loaded – yes, the Cheltenham Festival is finally here.

The whole National Hunt season has been gearing towards these four days, with the whole world and his wife watching from around the UK and Ireland.

Barring no disasters when the course officals inspect the course at 10:30, racing should beat the big freeze, but oh boy, is the ground going to be testing.

The official description may only be on the soft-side of good, but when there is freezing whether like this around there will be plenty of moisture deep within the ground and it will probably ride more like heavy conditions.

Keep up to date with the going and how the jockeys rate the ground after the first race via our Twitter feed @CheltenhamTalk.

That first race is the Supreme Novices Hurdle, where the very popular My Tent Or Yours heads to post as the ante-post favourite. Irish bookmaker Paddy Power always try to give punters value on the first day of the Festival and they have pushed the Nicky Henderson-trained horse out to 5/2 this morning.

The leader of the Seven Barrows-based institution may have become the leading Cheltenham Festival trainer of all time at the 2012 Festival but it’s been 21 years since he tasted success in the Supreme Novice Hurdle. Unbelievably, River Ceiriog’s win in 1986 was the last time Henderson ended up in the winners’ enclosure for this race.

His 21-year duck hasn’t come from the want of trying though. He has saddled 24 runners since 1986. Many punters are banking on My Tent Or Yours breaking that trend but there are serious doubts in our mind about the strength of his latest win in the Betfair Hurdle. That’s not to say Henderson won’t win this even though as River Maigue looks a decent each-way bet with William Hill, who are paying five places in the race.

Jezki, who can be backed at 9/2 with Bet365, recorded back-to-back wins in Grade Ones over Christmas and looks a real player, but he has been off the track since and comes here without a recent run.

When you consider 16 of the last 18 Supreme winners had a previous run in the last 45 days, you have to doubt whether Jezki will be at his peak, especially if he is trading around this price. Stick each-way with River Maigue at 14/1.

The Champion Hurdle is the feature race on Tuesday and involves three former champions. The most fancied of the three is 2011 hero Hurricane Fly at 9/4 with Paddy Power. The Irish firm are tempting punters in by offering to refund all losing bets on the Champion Hurdle if Hurricane Fly wins the contest.

This means anyone looking to take on the Irish hot-pot can do so in the knowledge that they will not lose any of their stakes, up to a £100, if Hurricane Fly, who finished third last season, runs out the victor. Zarkandar, at 7/2, looks the clear bet here though, especially when you consider the money back guarantee from Paddy. He is a very strong stayer and although not very flash, has all the capabilities to win a Champion Hurdle in these conditions.

Quevega can make history in the Mares Hurdle by winning it for the fifth consecutive year; however, she may have finally come up against a very classy rival in the form of 6/1 shot with William Hill, Une Artiste. Henderson’s mare won the Fred Winter last season and has trained on by the look of her performances in 2013. Quevega can be swerved at 4/7 with Paddy Power

 

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