Cheltenham tips: Jane Mangan marks your card for Tuesday's Festival

Cheltenham tips: Jane Mangan marks your card for Tuesday's Festival

Epatante and Barry Geraghty will take all the beating in the Champions Hurdle. Picture: Healy Racing

THE waiting is finally over.

Find yourself a perch, sit back and enjoy one of the greatest sporting events on the planet!

Day one of the Cheltenham Festival is often regarded as the best in terms of quality. We kick off with the two mile novice hurdlers in the Supreme — a race that Willie Mullins has made his own in the last decade — winning four of the last six renewals.

This year he relies on Joe Donnelly’s Asterion Forlonge, a French bred ex-pointer who put up an explosive display at the Dublin Racing Festival. Despite his impressive Leopardstown performance, I’m going to go against the Joe Donnelly owned horses in favour of Fiddlerontheroof.

Already a Grade 1 winner in the Tolworth Hurdle, Colin Tizzard’s charge will relish the soft ground and has the assistance of Robbie Power. For what he has achieved to date, I think this horse is value against the market leaders.

The Arkle Chase is always a great spectacle — young two mile chasers bidding to carve out their own piece of history alongside the speedy chasers of yesteryear. Notebook boasts the best form for Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead. This combination will be hoping to hit the ground running today as they have some major chances throughout the week.

On the Dublin Racing Festival form, Notebook has the measure of Cash Back and he also beat Fakir d’Oudaries at Christmas. This will be a frantically run affair with Cash Back certain to lead and I wonder if the race will be set up for a closer?

With that in mind I would recommend punters consider a lively outsider at each way value in the form of Esprit Du Large. Trained by Evan Williams and ridden by under rated jockey Adam Wedge, this French bred won a Grade 1 at Sandown when beating Nube Negra which earned him an official rating of 155 (Notebook is rated 164).

The Irish hold a strong hand in this year’s Arkle, but I expect this horse to be gaining up that hill when some of the main protagonists cry wolf.

This year’s Champion Hurdle has been spoken about to death over the last few months. Will the mares line up here? Where are all the quality two-milers gone?

Then, to add insult to injury, Epatante was reportedly coughing last week! Alas, we’ve made it and a new two-mile champion will be crowned as no previous winner was even entered for the race.

Epatante and Barry Geraghty will take all the beating in the Champions Hurdle. 	Picture: Healy Racing
Epatante and Barry Geraghty will take all the beating in the Champions Hurdle. Picture: Healy Racing

I’m a huge fan of Epatante. She let plenty of us down last year when losing her mind in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle, but I’m hoping she can recoup some of those losses today. JP McManus has a tremendous record in this race — eight winners from 30 runners in 21 renewals.

Since 2009, no fewer than eight of the 11 runnings of the Champion Hurdle have been either won by Nicky Henderson or Willie Mullins and I doubt their record will be tarnished this year.

Darver Star and Petiti Mouchoir might be options at bigger prices but I don’t see any of these geldings being good enough to concede 7lbs to Epatante.

The Mares Hurdle. a half hour after the Champion, appears to be just as good as the showpiece. It’s a fascinating clash between the fairer sex and one that could develop into a tactical affair.

That said, it’s not really a betting race in terms of backing the winner. Instead, I would consider punting a forecast bet here. Benie Des Dieux to beat Honeysuckle with Stormy Ireland to follow them home in third.

This year’s National Hunt Chase will be run over a shorter distance (3m 6f) for the first time following last year’s farcical affair of fallers and exhausted finishers. It’s difficult to look past Patrick and Willie Mullins who have seemingly laid out Carefully Selected for this race all season.

Formerly second in the Champion bumper, this horse isn’t slow but clearly stays extremely well. No amateur rider has won this race three times but Patrick must have a fantastic chance of making history with this fellow following the wins of Back In Focus and Rathvinden.

Best of luck. Go with your gut and ignore hindsight. The luck of the draw only favours the unlucky!

Fiddlerontheroof and Robbie Power can claim Supreme glory. 	Picture: Healy Racing
Fiddlerontheroof and Robbie Power can claim Supreme glory. Picture: Healy Racing

JANE MANGAN'S TUESDAY TIPS:

1.30pm, Supreme Novices Hurdle: Fiddlerontheroof, Robbie Power, Colin Tizzard.

2.10pm, Arkle Chase: Notebook, Rachael Blackmore, Henry de Bromhead.

2.50pm, Ultima Handicap Chase: The Conditional, Brendan Powell, David Bridgewater.

3.30pm, Champion Hurdle: Epatante, Barry Geraghty, Nicky Henderson.

4.10pm, Mares Hurdle: Benie Des Dieux, Paul Townend, Willie Mullins.

4.50pm, Northern Trust Company Nov’ Handicap Chase: Beakstown, Harry Skelton, Dan Skelton.

5.30pm, National Hunt Chase: Carefully Selected, Patrick Mullins, Willie Mullins.

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