Cheltenham Festival Day One Preview - Champion Hurdle Takes Centre Stage At Prestbury Park

Cheltenham Festival Day One Preview - Champion Hurdle Takes Centre Stage At Prestbury Park
07:35, 12 Mar 2019

It's the day we've all been waiting for.  The 2019 Cheltenham Festival is upon us and day one is set to be an absolute corker with the seven-race card getting under way at 1:30pm and you can check out all the Cheltenham Festival Racecards here.  A host of Graded races are joined by some devilishly difficult handicap races, and we set the scene for the 'Greatest Show On Turf' here.

A plethora of emerging talents will raise the curtain on Tuesday afternoon as the hugely competitive Supreme Novices' Hurdle will kick off proceedings at Prestbury Park.  The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Al Dancer will be a prominent figure in the betting, but Klassical Dream, Angels Breath and Fakir D'Oudairies will all be leading contenders for what is a wide open contest.

The novice chasers then come to the fore with the Arkle Challenge Trophy and Glen Forsa and Lalor will spearhead the British challenge for the Grade 1 two-mile crown, but Hardline has been well backed over the last few weeks, and Gordon Elliott's raider will be flying the flag for the Irish at 2:10pm.

On to race three, and it's the Ultima Handicap Chase which will attract a number of experienced handicappers and former Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco will be aiming to strut his stuff around the undulations of GL50, and the JP McManus-owned charge will be the one to beat at 2:50pm.

The main event bursts into prominence at 3:30pm as the Champion Hurdle serves up an absolute stonking three-way clash.  Reigning champion Buveur D'Air is aiming to emulate the mighty Istabraq by bagging a third consecutive Champion Hurdle crown, but star mares Apple's Jade and Laurina head into the race in the form of their lives and they will put up a bold bid for glory in what is arguably the race of the entire festival.

Top-class action continues at 4:10pm with the Willie Mullins-trained Benie Des Dieux heading into the Mares' Hurdle as the red-hot favourite.  The Closutton inmate was a fine winner of the race 12 months ago and it's going to take a classy rival to beat her in a race that has been dominated by the aforementioned Mullins since its inception.

Another tough handicap chase is the penultimate race on the card at 4:50pm with the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase attracting a field of progressive performers.  A Plus Tard and Tower Bridge are lively players and will be thereabouts, but as the betting suggests there could be one of a number of winners in a rock-hard betting conundrum.

Day one concludes with the longest race of the entire meeting and it will give a golden opportunity for the amateur jockeys to show their talents in the National Hunt Chase, which is off at 5:30pm.  Ballyward and OK Corral have been prominent figures in the betting for this race for the last few weeks and they should serve up a spectacular duel in this energy-sapping four-mile contest, and it will draw the curtain on Tuesday's action in fine style.

Enjoy the action!


2019 Cheltenham Festival Day One Schedule

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