1.30 – Cheltenham – Tuesday 14th March 2023:
Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo+) :
Distance: 2 miles half a furlong on the old course.
The traditional curtain raiser to the Festival run over the same distance as the Champion Hurdle and open to Novices four years old and upwards. Runners are required to jump eight flights and the race is noted for it’s fast pace. The race normally goes to a slick hurdler who has the ability to travel well and thoroughly see out the trip. 
Positive Trends to consider:
23 of the last 26 winners won their last race
14 of the last 19 winners had raced in at least 4 hurdles races before
11 of the last 13 winners came from the first 4 in the market
10 of the last 11 winners had won a graded Novice Hurdle before
21 of the last 28 winners ran in the last 45 days
6 of the last 10 winners won a Grade One on their previous start
Irish-trained horses have won 17 of the last 31 renewals
5 & 6 year-olds have the best record – winning 16 of the last 18 renewals
Willie Mullins has won the race 7 times in total and for 5 of the last 10 years
8 of the last 10 winners were either (5) Mullins or (3) Henderson-trained
26 of the last 28 winners had raced that same calendar year
Owner Rich Ricci & trainer Willie Mullins have won 3 of the last 10 renewals
6 of the last 9 winners had been rated 153 or more
9 of the last 10 winners returned a single-figure price
9 of the last 14 winners were previous bumper winners
Negative Trends to note:
Horses that failed to win last time out before coming here are just 3 from the last 26.
Since 1992 all horses (38) wearing head-gear have been beaten
We’ve seen just two ex-flat horses win since 2008
Only 1 of the past 15 winners failed to win twice over hurdles
Only one of the past 10 winners were rated below 148
Just 3 of the last 20 winners came here unbeaten
Just 1 of the last 20 winners aged 7 or older
Just 2 outright winning favourites in the last 18 renewals
4 year-olds are 0-15 this century
Betfair Hurdle winners are 0 from 8 in the last decade
Genuine ex-flat horses have struggled in recent years
The Willie Mullins team retain their utmost belief in Facile Vega despite his disappointment at Leopardstown last time out. The fractions he was asked to set were to blame for his ultimate demise but he wouldn’t be the first horse who, when asked to seriously race off the bridle, was found wanting. He may learn from that experience and put this field to the sword ridden more patiently but to be still at the head of the market after such a capitulation means he is a favourite that begs to be taken on. His stablemate and conqueror at Leopardstown, Il Etait Temps, is the obvious alternative and, priced up at around double the price of the favourite, he makes some appeal. He suffered a four length defeat at the hands of Facile Vega on his penultimate start but he has the profile of a horse who is progressing and he is a slick jumper of hurdles. This stiffer track will suit Inthepocket but he has around ten lengths to make up on Il Etait Temps on that Leopardstown effort and, even with improvement, it’d hard to see him bridging that gap. The unbeaten Marine Nationale  has to be respected because he had to get his head down and battle to beat Irish Point last time out and his attitude will hold him in good stead if he gets his rivals off the bridle. High Definition is a high class flat horse who has Group One placed form on the level to his name. If he translated his flat ability to hurdles he would win this with his head in his chest but he has yet to convince in the jumping department. Of those at bigger prices, Diverge, Doctor Bravo, Chasing Fire and Rare Edition have valid claims in the place market but perhaps the one horse that has been overlooked is the Paul Nicholls trained Tahmuras . He screams future Chaser, and he wouldn’t be the slickest hurdler ever seen, but stamina looks his strong suit and he could be brought into this by underfoot conditions. He has shown in winning his last two starts that he handles soft ground and he has the profile of a horse on a sharp upward curve. He may lack the natural speed of some of his rivals but the winners of this race tend to be future stayers and he certainly fits that bill. He lacks the class, according to Official Ratings, of most previous winners but he leaves the strong impression that he has the scope to run to the level required.
Tahmarus. 1.25 pts e/w. Available at 11/1. (Paddy Power, Bet365 – 1/5 odds first 4)
2.10 – Cheltenham – Tuesday 14th March 2023:
Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1)  (5yo+):
Distance: 2 miles on the old course.
The ultimate test for the two mile Chaser, The Arkle requires the ability to jump well at speed although, due to the advent of the Novices’ Chase over an extra half furlong reducing field sizes for this race, it may not be the test it once was. Field sizes were back up to double figures in 2019 and 2020 but 2021 saw just the five go to post. Last season the numbers were back up to eleven runners but just nine hold their ground this year. 2020 saw a mare win it for the first time in 40 years. High class hurdles have a good record in this race and previous Cheltenham form is a positive.   
Positive Trends to consider:
14 of the last 18 winners had won (or been placed) at Cheltenham before
17 of the last 23 winners had won a Grade 1 or 2 chase before
The last 13 winners won last time out (plus 18 of the last 22)
21 of the last 23 winners returned 9/1 or shorter
13 of the last 17 winners had won at least twice over fences before
14 of the last 16 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
15 of the last 20 winners had run 3 or 4 times over fences
14 of the last 19 winners had run at the previous year’s Cheltenham Festival
8 of the last 11 winners were unbeaten over fences
Nicky Henderson has won the race 7 times
Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 8 renewals (all French-bred)
8 of the last 11 winners trained by Willie Mullins or Nicky Henderson (4 each)
8 of the last 11 favourites have won
Negative Trends to note:
Only 2 of the last 36 winners failed to win of finish second last time out
Just 3 of the last 32 winners started 11/1 or bigger in the betting
Only 4 of the last 31 winners were older than 7 years-old
Only three winners this century had run more than four times over fences
The last horse aged 9 (or older) to win was in 1988
Ex-flat horses have a poor record
Only 1 winner since 2000 won with headgear
5 year-olds are 0-16 in the last 13 years
Shishkin (2021), Douvan (2016) and Altior (2017) were the first Supreme Hurdle winners (from the previous season) that have followed-up in this race since 1965
Trainer Paul Nicholls has had 12 unplaced from his last 13 runners
This has been billed as a clash between two of last season top Novices’, El Fabiolo and Jonbon , and the latter had just a neck to spare over the former when the pair met at Aintree last season. The strongest piece of form that either has posted over fences was the emphatic victory of El Fabiolo in the Irish Arkle and, based on that alone, he probably deserves to be favourite. Both have already proven better over fences than they were over hurdles and both will handle underfoot conditions. Of the two Jonbon has looked the better jumper so far and he has proven himself on the track. If he attacks his fences like he has to date he could put El Fabiolo’s jumping under pressure and any mistakes from the Irish challenger could prove costly. With Dysart Dynamo in the field this is likely to be run at a searching gallop and it would be dangerous if the any of the market leaders gave him too much rope at the head of affairs. He is a good jumper but it’s not difficult to imagine at least one of his rivals picking him off up the Cheltenham hill. Saint Roi  wouldn’t be out of this if those at the head of the market failed to fire but it would probably take all three to disappoint if he is to prevail. He could make the frame but, on balance, backing him at around 8/1 for a place doesn’t make much appeal. The other five would need to take a major step forward to reach the places bar a mishap.
No Selection.
2.50 – Cheltenham – Tuesday 14th March 2023:
Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+):
Distance: 3 miles one furlong on the old course.
Traditionally the first handicap run at the Festival. The Ultima Handicap Chase is open to horses five years old and upwards and is normally competed by large fields. The jockeying for early positions means this race is normally truly run and it takes a strong stayer and a good traveler to prevail. Novices’ have a good recent record in this race and previous Cheltenham Festival form is becoming more influential.  Despite the large fields and competitive nature of this race those toward the fore in the market do well.
Positive Trends to consider:
18 of the last 23 winners were officially rated 143 or less
15 of the last 22 came from the top 4 in the betting
18 of the last 22 winners returned 11/1 or shorter
16 of the last 22 were novices or second season chasers
5 of the last 9 winners were Novices
8 of the last 15 winners were rated between 142-146 (7 between 142-145)
Horses rated 140+ have won 14 of the last 22 runnings
9 of the last 20 won last time out
Horses that have run well in the race before have a good record
9 of the last 11 winners wore headgear
10 of the last 13 winners had run at Cheltenham that season
Jonjo O’Neill, Alan King, Nicky Henderson, Tony Martin & David Pipe are trainers to note
All winners since 2000 had won over 3m+ before
5 of the last 8 winners ran at Cheltenham’s January meeting
4 of the last 9 winners ran in the Ladbrokes Trophy that season
11 of the last 14 winners had run at the Festival before
Northern-based runners have a good record
Negative Trends to note:
Be cautious of horses carrying 11-04 or more in weight – 12 of the last 18 carried 10-12 or less, although the 2017 winner carried 11-12 & the 2019 winner won with 11-8. The 2022 winner (Corach Rambler carried 10st 2lbs)
Horses aged 11 or older are just 3 from 54 to even get placed
Be wary of Paul Nicholls-trained horses – he’s currently 0 from 24
Only 3 winners in the last 14 hadn’t raced at a previous Festival
Only 5 winners since 2000 have returned bigger than 11/1
Only 2 of the last 15 winners were rated in the 130’s
The Irish have won just 2 of the last 54 renewals (since 1967)
Irish-trained runners are 0-35 in the last 16 renewals
Corach Rambler returns to defend his crown and from, just a six pound higher mark, he holds every chance of a repeat. He arguably would’ve won from this mark last season because he came from a long way back and was going away in the latter stages. However his racing style leaves him a hostage to fortune and any mistakes will find him on the back foot. Connections have the Grand National as his seasons target and, while that won’t prevent him from winning this, there are those amongst the opposition who see this as their main aim. Happygolucky ran well in this race two years ago and is a tempting proposition but his yard are in dire form and he’s hard to warm to on that basis alone. Oscar Elite was third in this race last season and he is weighted to go very well but he has bled on more than one occasion and he is hard on himself during a race. His last time out victory proves his wellbeing but, if this becomes attritional, any chinks in his armour will surface. The Sponsors will be keen that their representatives, Threeunderfive and The Wolf, run well but Into Overdrive  is a more obvious candidate. He is a winner of five of his eight Chases and he is capable of defying a five pound higher mark but his four worse performances over both hurdles and fences came the only time he has encountered soft ground so underfoot conditions will be vital to his chances. The Irish have a poor record in this race but Fastorslow and The Goffer would have better chances than many of their predecessors and both come into the race on the back of very good performances. Nassalam is a progressive six year old who looks as though he will improve for this step up in trip but this a fiercely competitive race in which to prove the fact and to do it on soft ground raises another question. It may well be the making of him but, at a single figure price, he makes limited appeal. At the relevant prices we will support Moonbeg Genius, The Big Breakaway and Harper’s Brook.
Moonbeg Genius – Accurate jumping Novice Chaser who has shown progression in winning three of his four Chases. Eight pound higher than for winning at Chepstow last time out but the second has franked the form since and this slight step up in trip looks likely to suit. Proven on both an undulating track and a soft surface he represents a yard who have won this race on three previous occasions.
The Big Breakaway – Has the steadier of 11-10 to shoulder and runs from a career high mark of 151 but has run lifetime bests in finishing second on his two starts this season. Handles testing conditions and stays extremely well. So well he could find this an inadequate test for win purposes but he will be staying on when others have cried enough if he doesn’t get outpaced. Finished third here in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase back in 20121.
Harper’s Brook – Disappointed in a Grade Two Novice Chase on the New Corse here over an extended 20 furlongs on New year’s Day but an absence since may suggest all was not right. Had previously shown ability on his first two starts over fences, winning in heavy ground at Bangor on his penultimate outing. Has to prove he stays this far but his big price compensates for that unknown and the first time cheekpieces/tongue tie could prove positives. Represents a yard who are enjoying a good season and are adept at placing their horses in handicaps.
Moonbeg Genius. 1.5 pts win. Available at 8/1. (Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes, Betway)
The Big Breakaway. 1 pt e/w. Available at 14/1. (Skybet – 1/5 odds first 8)
Harper’s Brook. 0.5 pts e/w. Available at 33/1. (Skybet – 1/5 odds first 8)
3.30 – Cheltenham – Tuesday 14th March 2023.
Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo+):
Distance – Two miles half a furlong on the old course.
The first of the four major races at the Festival, the Champion Hurdle is open to horses of four years old and upwards who have been allocated a rating of 130 or more. Fluent hurdling and the ability to travel at pace are the key ingredients to winning a Champion Hurdle.
Positive Trends to consider:
33 of the last 39 won last time out
Horses unbeaten that season often do well (10 of last 12)
The Irish and Nicky Henderson have won 20 of the last 24 runnings between them
9 of the last 14 winners came from the Henderson or Willie Mullins yards
The Irish have won 15 of the last 24 runnings
Owner JP McManus has won 6 of the last 13 (10 in total)
Trainer Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 12 runnings
27 of the last 33 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old (11 of last 16)
14 of the last 24 winners had won at the Festival before
25 of the last 38 winners were placed in the first 4 at the previous season’s festival
The Fighting Fifth Hurdle is a good guide (4 winners, 6 places in last 15 renewals)
14 of the last 27 winners started as flat horses
The last 8 winners were unbeaten that season
Look for horses that have raced at least once that calendar year
Trainer Nicky Henderson has won the race 8 times, including 3 of the last 6 years
6 of the last 14 winners contested the Christmas Hurdle (Kempton)
Mares are currently 4 from 9 during last 9 renewals
9 of the last 14 winners were (4) Mullins or (5) Henderson-trained
Negative Trends to note:
Avoid horses that failed to finish in the top three last time out
5 year-olds are just 2 from 111 since 1985, but the 2019 winner was a 5 year-old
Since 1927 we’ve only seen 2 winners aged 10 or older (0-30 in the last 39 renewals)
Just 1 of the last 16 winners had raced more than 12 times over hurdles
Christmas Hurdle (Kempton, 26th Dec) winners are just 4 from 32, but Epatante (2020)  did the Christmas Hurdle/Champion Hurdle double.
Just 2 horses have regained the race since 1975
International Hurdle winners are 0 from 13 (last 19 years)
Only 2 of the last 24 winners hadn’t raced at the Festival before
The last Supreme Novice’ Hurdle winner to win the Champion Hurdle the following season was 52 years ago (Bula)
Barring accidents this will rest between Constitution Hill and State Man and the former, on evidence to date, is far superior. Constitution Hill bids to become the first horse in 53 years to win the Supreme Novices’ and Champion Hurdle in consecutive seasons. A race to watch and, hopefully, saviour.
No selection.
4.10 – Cheltenham – Tuesday 14th March 2023:
 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Registered as The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo+):
Distance: 2 miles 4 furlongs on the Old Course.
One of two hurdle races at the Festival restricted to Mares (four years and upwards) and it was elevated to Grade One status eight seasons ago. This race was first run in 2008 and Willie Mullins has been responsible for nine of the fifteen winners since.
Positive Trends to consider:
Follow Irish-trained mares (12 of last 15 winners)
The favourite (or 2nd fav) have won 11 of the last 15 renewals
8 of the last 15 favourites have won
All the last 12 winners were aged between 5-7 years-old
14 of the last 15 winners had won over at least 2m4f
Willie Mullins has trained 9 of the last 15 winners
Look for Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson, Paul Nolan & Alan King runners
Novices generally do well
10 of the last 15 winners had won a Grade 1 or 2 before
6 of the last 11 winners had won over 2m6f+ before
Horses that began their careers in bumpers have done well
Respect French bred mares, they have won 9 renewals
11 of the last 15 winners returned 6/1 or shorter
12 of the last 15 winners had won (or placed) in a graded race against the males
Negative Trends to note:
Avoid front-runners
British-bred mares are currently 3-86
Just 1 outright favourite in the last 8 runnings
Just one winner from last 31 runners to wear headgear have won
Be cautious of Paul Nicholls, Philip Hobbs and Noel Meade runners
Benie De Dieux is the only ex-flat horse to win the race
Just 1 winner aged 8+ (Quevega)
From promising to become a mundane race this, in recent months, has become one of the most fascinating events at the Festival. Two Champion Hurdle winners line up with the winner of last season’s renewal and a host of progressive Mares. Honeysuckle will obviously garner most attention and, although she is clearly on the downgrade, she arguably retains enough ability to win this race. Whether twenty furlongs on soft ground will play to her strengths is debatable and a similar comment applies to Echoes Of Rain. Marie’s Rock returns to defend her crown rather than run in the Stayers Hurdle and she comes here on the back of a career best in winning the Relkeel Hurdle here on the New Course in January. Back against her own sex she is going to be difficult to beat. Epatante has seen the backside of Honeysuckle on a number of occasions but those defeats have been over shorter trips and she won the only time she has run over this trip. However that came on faster ground at Aintree and the slower ground at this stiffer track may stretch her stamina. Brandy Love  is unexposed and progressive and looked in need of her reappearance at Punchestown last time out. She was beaten nearly five lengths by the reopposing Queen’s Brook and, although nine pounds better off with that rival here, she will need to have come on for that run just three weeks ago to turn the tables here. Queen’s Brook was second to Marie’s Rock in this race last season and, at four times the price of Brandy Love, she looks better value than her rival. Brandy Love rounded off last season by beating Love Envoi by eight lengths at Fairyhouse but the latter has improved again in two starts this season and this tough Mare will appreciate every drop of rain that falls. She probably needs to find a chunk of improvement to get competitive with the best of these but, as a winner of seven of her eight starts over hurdles, she has answered every question she has been posed. Track, trip and ground are all in her favour and it seems inconceivable that she will won’t go down without giving her absolute all.
Love Envoi. 1.75 pts win. Available at 15/2. (Paddy Power)
4.50 – Cheltenham – Tuesday 14th March 2023.
 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Registered as The Fred Winter) (Grade 3) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo):
Distance: 2 miles half a furlong on the Old Course
Now in it’s 19th year the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle is a Grade Three handicap open to four year olds only. It reverts to the opening day after the introduction of the Mares Chase and it offers Juveniles who are not considered good enough for the Triumph a chance of Festival glory.  Another big field affair which is no easier than the Coral Cup for punters. First run in 2005 a field of 22 very lightly raced four year olds that have been campaigned with their handicap mark in mind means this is a very difficult race to assess. There is no rating ceiling for this race but the presence of the Triumph Hurdle means it is effectively a 0-145 handicap and the quality in recent seasons seems to be on the rise (although maybe not last season and this). The ability to travel well off a fast pace is essential for a winner 
Positive Trends to consider:
10 of the last 18 winners had run exactly 3 times over hurdles before
French bred horses have a good record
9 of the last 18 winners started their careers in France
Respect Fillies
12 of the last 18 winners carried 11st+
9 of the last 18 winners won last time out
8 of the last 12 winners all came from the bottom half of the weights/handicap
11 of the last 18 had run in the last 25 days
David Pipe, Paul Nicholls, Gordon Elliot (3 of last 10) and Alan King-trained horses often do well
6 of the last 11 winners returned between 25/1 and 40/1 (7 of the last 11 priced 25/1+)
12 of the last 18 winners returned a double figure price
Respect horses wearing headgear
13 of the last 18 winners were rated between 124-134
8 of the last 15 winners were British-trained
Trainer Paul Nicholls has won 3 of the last 13 renewals
13 of the last 18 winners had won no more than once over hurdles
Negative trends to note:
Just 2 recent winners had last raced in January or further back
Trainers Willie Mullins, Philip Hobbs and Venetia Williams are 0 from 38 between them
Just 3 of the last 18 winners rated 135+
Horses bred in Britain are 0-59 (last 14 years)
Willie Mullins runners are 0 from 18 (just 2 placed in top 5)
Only 3 winners had run in a handicap hurdle before
No winner had raced at Cheltenham before
Horses with 2+ wins over hurdles are just 2 from 18 
Tekao ran respectably in Grade One company last time out but he is a short price in a race of this nature and his Trainer doesn’t have a good record in the race. He is worth taking on and our three against the field are Bad, Sir Allen and  Samuel Spade.
Bad  – An acquisition from France whose connections have resisted the opportunity to race him in this country, believing him to be well handicapped. Progressive in three starts over hurdles in France culminating in a comfortable victory in heavy ground over an extended 18 furlongs. Did that in comfortable fashion and held a Triumph entry before being re-routed to this race. That suggests an opening mark of 126 could be lenient and the booking of Rachel Blackmore is eye-catching. Represents a yard who are not to be under-estimated in big handicaps.
Samuel Spade  – Stablemate of Bad who has won two of his three starts over hurdles. His best performance to date came when he was second to the re-opposing Perseus way on his penultimate start at Huntingdon and is now 14 pounds better off with that rival for a three length defeat. Has winning form on soft ground and this stiffer track could suit a horse who has the scope for further improvement.
Sir Allen  – Won a Naas Novice Hurdle which has supplied three of the last four winners of this race. Prior to that he had beaten Calico by two lengths and and been beaten five lengths by Blood Destiny in two maiden races at Punchestown and Cork respectably. Wouldn’t be badly handicapped judged on the balance of his form in those maiden/Novice races and handles testing ground. Connections have booked Danny Mullins (3 from 14 for the yard in recent seasons) for a rare runner on these shores
Bad. 1.75 pts win. Available at 15/2. (888Sport, Coral, Betway, Ladbrokes) 
Sir Allen. 1.25 pts e/w. Available at 11/1. (Bet365, Betway – 1/5 odds first 6)
Samuel Spade. 0.75 pts e/w. Available at 20/1. (Bet365)
5.30 – Cheltenham – Tuesday 14th March 2023:
WellChild National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (GBB Race)  (Class 1) (5yo+):
Distance: 3 miles six furlongs on the Old Course.
The longest race at the Festival and one which is re-inventing itself after alterations in recent years. It was reduced in distance to just shy of 30 furlongs for the first time three seasons ago. The penalties were removed in 2010 making this a level weights contest and it is now targeted by classy novices and Grade One form has infiltrated the form books in recent seasons. The restriction of not allowing winning hurdlers to take part was removed in 2002. Experience has proved a valuable asset as is targeting a good Amateur. The race was elevated to Grade Two status six seasons ago. 
Ten runners go to post this season and, although he is not a winning machine, Gaillard Du Mesnil has the best form in the book and is rightly a short priced favourite. It’s not a race that interests us from a betting or study point of view.
Positive trends to consider:
13 of the last 21 winners finished 1st  or 2nd  last time out
12 of the last 17 winners were aged 7 or 8 years-old (23 of the last 32)
9 of the last 13 winners had run 5+ times over fences
10 of the last 12 winners had run in a Graded Novice chase
6 of the last 12 winners had run in a Grade One Novice Chase that season
8 of the last 16 had run in a chase at Cheltenham before that season
9 of the last 13 winners had run at a previous Cheltenham Festival
9 of the last 12 winners returned a single-figure price
Respect horses wearing headgear
8 of the last 12 winners Irish-trained
9 of the last 12 winners were rated 145 (or more)
Look out for JP McManus-owned runners (6 winners)
Jonjo O’Neill has trained 6 winners in the race (5-from-22)
Jockey Derek O’Connor has 2 wins / 4 places (from 16 rides)
Derek O’Connor, Jamie Codd & Patrick Mullins have won 8 of the last 12 (3, Codd, 3 Mullins, 2 O’Connor)
Jockey Jamie Codd has won 3 of the last 8
Gordon Elliott has won the race 4 times from just 10 runners
3 of the last 5 winners owned by Ronnie Bartlett
Negative trends to note:
5 and 6 year-olds are just 2 from 81 since 1989
Just 4 of the last 12 winners were top-rated
Favourites have won just 3 of the last 13 runnings
Just 2 of the last 32 winners were aged 6 years-old
Trainer Paul Nicholls has  NEVER  won this race – he’s currently 0 from 19
Trainer Nicky Henderson has  NEVER  won this race
Horses with less than 3 chase starts don’t fare well
Horses rated in the 130’s have a poor record (1 from 12)
Just 2 winners in the last 14 returned bigger than 12/1
No selection.