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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cheltenham Festival day one (Tuesday)

Hi folks, here's my race-by-race guide for day one which I've wrote for the Irish Independent:

L'ami Serge has won all three races for Nicky Henderson and beat the talented Jolly's Cracked It by fourteen lengths in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown. The form from his Newbury Handicap has worked out well with a couple of those going on to win since, and 3/1 looks generous enough considering he's only 2lbs behind Douvan on official ratings.

This should be a straight-forward penalty kick for Un De Sceaux although at 8/13, it's not worth the risk. He beat Clarcam with ease in a Grade One at Leopardstown last time but Vibrato Valtat has plenty of talent too and has already won a number of Graded races for Paul Nicholls. At 11/10, Vibrato Valtat is a confident selection in the place only markets on the exchanges.

I don't like betting big in the handicaps but The Druids Nephew might be the one to side with now back over fences. He was out of his depth in the Cleeve Hurdle last time but he's smarter over fences and this race has been his target for some time.

Faugheen is clearly something special which you have to be to win a Champion Hurdle but he's never faced rivals of this calibre and his price is a little short. Last year's winner Jezki is a fair price at 4/1 and can get the better of regular sparring partner Hurricane Fly.

Annie Power is far superior to any of these but that's reflected in her short price. She hasn't raced since May which is a slight concern. As an each-way alternative, consider Carole's Spirit, a tough enough sort that never gives up.

Gordon Elliott's Cause Of Causes certainly wasn't disgraced when second in the Kim Muir last year and gets a tentative vote at 8/1 to trouble the likely favourite Very Wood. Alan King's Sego Success will love the trip and won't be too far off.

A tricky handicap in which stakes should be kept to a minimum. Generous Ransom is a progressive sort and deserves his place at the head of the market but Irish Cavalier makes more appeal each-way at 12/1. Rebecca Curtis' gelding was second to the favourite in a handicap here in January but first time cheekpieces may just sharpen her up.

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