The Cheltenham Festival. A place where dreams are made of and hopes are shattered on the floor. Seven races per day, four times over, all around the hallowed turf of Prestbury Park.
Gaelic Warrior left, Gaillard Du Mesnil right.
Superb from the Willie Mullins string this morning. #CheltenhamFestival #Cheltenham pic.twitter.com/fuRI1Dsvdp
— Ash Symonds Journalism (@ASymondsJourno) March 12, 2023
Plenty of time is spent trying to work out the Championship races on each day, but throughout all the cards, the handicaps offer a brilliant stage for betting angles and each-way edges.
To try and help guide you through each day of the Cheltenham Festival, Best Of Bets lists some of the key players in the handicaps on day one of horse racing’s Olympics.
TUESDAY – Ultima Handicap Chase
Starting with the opening handicap race of the week, the Ultima, there are a few on my shortlist for the 3m1f contest.
Firstly, I thought CLOUDY GLEN for Venetia Williams could outrun his odds at 20/1 with William Hill. This 10-year-old was second in the 2021 Kim Muir off a mark of 140, only five pounds below his current rating, in a race won by the very impressive Mount Ida. Two starts after that, he won the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (old Hennessy) off the same mark in a tight finish with Fiddlerontheroof with the pair pulling 28 lengths clear of Brahma Bull in third.
After that, he was disappointing in his next two starts before having a year-long lay-off and then he ran a great race to finish in the places at Haydock in the Grand National Trial last month. I think he can run a massive race off 145.
However, the horse I’ll be hanging my hat on is THE GOFFER at 12/1 with William Hill for the Gordon Elliott stable.
He’s only a six-year-old and has plenty of improvement about him. What’s interesting about him is that he won at the Dublin Racing Festival off a mark of 138 in early February, a rating that could have got him into the Kim Muir with a cracking chance even with the Irish tax applied to him by the British handicapper.
However, connections decided to send him to the race on the last day, a contest he won, and now he’s rated 11lbs higher off a mark of 149. Now, that may be steep, but he collected victory over potentially the wrong trip and he was very good throughout. I think he is the classy horse of the race and potentially the one to beat.
TUESDAY – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Sticking with the Irish, I am chancing Charles’ Byrnes’ BYKER in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Coming into Sunday, I was all over Common Practice for Joseph O’Brien, however, he was the only horse not to be declared for the race, so I’ve had to switch it up a bit.
Up four pounds from his official Irish mark, the four-year-old Le Havre gelding ran a great race to finish third on his last start behind Sir Allen at Naas in Febuary when giving away seven pounds.
Now in handicap company, he is rated three pounds below the formerly mentioned Andrew Slattery-trained runner for just a two length defeat.
He looks to move through his races very well and at 7/1 with William Hill, he looks like the most likely winner in my eyes.