THE 2016 Cheltenham Festival gets underway on Tuesday. Our horse racing correspondent Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) takes a look a
13:30 Cheltenham | Channel 4
The traditional curtain raiser and one of the highlights of the meeting, the Supreme Novices Hurdle kicks off the Cheltenham Festival and it sees Min looking to add to the Mullins/Walsh/Ricci dominance of this race. He bids to follow in the footsteps on Douvan, Vatour and Champagne Fever who have won the last three renewals for connections.
Min has been easy to back in the last week having been around 5/4 last week he’s available in places at 5/2 at the moment. He’s won both starts over hurdles for Willie Mullins and even though he has been impressive he hasn’t achieved enough on the track to deserve to be the price he is. However he has a massive reputation and hails from a yard who know how to win this, so he has to be taken very seriously.
Altior from the Nicky Henderson stable has the best form on offer in this race and has improved with every start. He’s won over course and distance and has a very good attitude, I just wonder if there is something less exposed lurking in the field who will improve past him.
Beveur D’Air is another Henderson inmate however he has a very different profile. He was a good bumper horse but looks a natural over hurdles. He’s two from two in low grade novice events but he looks like a horse with a big future. As interesting as he is I can’t back him at single figure odds in a Grade 1 so I’m taking him on too.
The one I like here is another Irish raider in the form of Tombstone. So far he has won only one of his four starts over hurdles but he remains a horse of enormous potential. Third in a Wexford maiden 18 months ago he turned his attentions to a couple of National Hunt flat races where he was successful on both occasions.
He then won his maiden in good style before being stepped up in grade. He ran like an inexperienced horse and found trouble in running coming second in the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown before coming second in another Grade 1 at the track. On both occasions he looked far from the finished article and with improvement likely he could well reward each way backers here at a double figure price.
13:30 Cheltenham – Tombstone each way (12/1 Ladbrokes)
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