Cheltenham 2018: Day 1, Champion Day

This page covers all the information you need for the first day of Betting on Cheltenham Festival. There's a guide for each race including statistics, links and tips for betting on the race itself.

When the Racing Post produced a survey of the best day’s racing of the year the first day of the Cheltenham Festival polled most votes. As the first race gets underway on the Tuesday there is a huge roar from the crowd. Champion Day is the most eagerly anticipated single day’s racing of the year. The months of trials and speculation are now over and the action begins at the best race meeting in the world.

Cheltenham New Customer Offer with bet365

The highlight of day one of the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle which is the championship race for hurdlers in Britain and Ireland. The race is over in little more than four minutes but recognises the supreme hurdler over two miles and eight obstacles. The race has produced several multiple winners and if running again the champion, Annie Power, will be difficult to beat with the 7lbs mare’s allowance.

There are seven races on the opening card and the battle between the bookies and punters has begun. Betting turnover on races at Cheltenham is huge and if several favourites win on the first day the punters will be in front. However, the racing is competitive so it’s difficult to finish in front. The key is not to lose all your betting bank as there are three more days and 21 races to do that. Breaking even is a result but Cheltenham is a war and not a battle and only the first skirmishes have been done. 

A look ahead to the rest of the week : Ladies Day | St Patrick's Thursday | Gold Cup Day 

Our Top recommended Bookmakers for Cheltenham Day 1
18+ New Customers Only. Terms & Conditions Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly

Here is our Preview of the Champion Hurdle.

Guide to the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle

2018 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 13th

  • Hurdle Race (Two miles 1/2 furlong – Old Course)
  • Open to horses aged four-years-old and older

The Supreme Novices Hurdle is contested by the best novices over the shorter distance. It is traditionally the opening race of the four day Cheltenham Festival in March. The race was originally registered as the Gloucestershire Hurdle and up to 1971 was often split into two or even three divisions. Legendary Irish handler Vincent O’Brien dominated the race in the early years and between 1952 and 1959 recorded ten victories. In recent years another Irish trainer has dominated the race with Willie Mullins winning four of the last ten renewals.  

The Last 10 Winners of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle:

  • 2017 – Labaik (25/1) Gordon Elliott, Jack Kennedy
  • 2016 – Altior (4/1) Nicky Henderson, Nico de Boinville 
  • 2015 – Douvan (2/1F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2014 - Vautour (7/2JF) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2013 – Champagne Fever (5/1) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2012 – Cinders And Ashes (10/1) Donald McCain, Jason Maguire
  • 2011 – Al Ferof (10/1) Paul Nicholls, Ruby Walsh
  • 2010 – Menorah (12/1) Philip Hobbs, Richard Johnson
  • 2009 – Go Native (12/1) Noel Meade, Paul Carberry
  • 2008 – Captain Cee Bee (17/2) Edward Harty, Robert Thornton

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Trends 

  • 16 of the last 19 winners won last time out.
  • 15 of the last 20 winners ran in the previous 45 days. 
  • 5 of the last 20 win and place positions were filled by ex-bumper horses.
  • 14 of the last 24 renewals were won by Irish trained horses.
  • 3 of the last 13 winners finished in the first 5 in last season’s Champion Bumper.
  • Only 3 of the last 13 horses to start 2/1 or shorter have won.
  • Only 4 of the last 20 winners were given noticeable hold-up rides.
  • Only 2 of the last 20 winners had not run in the previous 68 days.  

Pointers And Reasoning

The famous Cheltenham Roar accompanies the start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle which opens the Cheltenham Festival. Irish trained horses have won in four of the last five years and runners from Ireland dominate the betting. Samcro could have another target at the meeting which means Getabird has the best form. Kalashnikov comes into the reckoning after winning the Betfair Hurdle but might not be quite good enough in graded company. Claimantakinforgan was disappointing on the latest run but has decent form in the bank. However, of the potential runners GETABIRD has been most impressive so should be backed to win the meeting opener.

Guide to the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase 

2018 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 13th 

  • Steeplechase (Two miles – Old Course) 
  • Open to horses five-years-old and older

The Arkle Challenge Trophy is the leading minimum distance chase for novices in the National Hunt calendar and is traditionally the second race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. The race was first run in 1946 under the title of the Cotswold Chase. In 1969 the race was renamed after Arkle, the three-time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the horse considered the best chaser in the history of the sport. The race has had several sponsors and the Racing Post newspaper began its sponsorship in 2012.  

The Last 10 Winners of the Arkle Challenge Trophy

  • 2017 – Altior (1/4F) Nicky Henderson, Nico de Boinville 
  • 2016 – Douvan (1/4F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2015 – Un De Sceaux (4/6F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh 
  • 2014 – Western Warhorse (33/1) David Pipe, Tom Scudamore
  • 2013 – Simonsig (8/15F) Nicky Henderson, Barry Geraghty
  • 2012 – Sprinter Sacre (8/11F) Nicky Henderson, Barry Geraghty
  • 2011 – Captain Chris (6/1) Philip Hobbs, Richard Johnson
  • 2010 – Sizing Europe (6/1) Henry de Bromhead, Andrew Lynch
  • 2009 – Forpadydeplasterer (8/1) Tom Cooper, Barry Geraghty
  • 2008 – Tidal Bay (6/1) Howard Johnson, Denis O'Regan 

Arkle Challenge Trophy Trends 

  • 8 of the last 15 winners were top-rated or second top-rated hurdler in the field.
  • 10 of the last 12 winners had either won at Cheltenham or placed at the Festival before.
  • 18 of the last 25 renewals have been won be the 2nd, 3rd or 4th favourite.
  • 7 of the last 10 winners had won a pattern race over hurdles.
  • Only 2 of the last 29 winners failed to win or place last time out.
  • Just 3 of the last 33 winners made most of the running.
  • Only 2 of the last 27 winners started bigger than 11/1.
  • Only 2 of the last 20 winners had fallen or unseated their rider over fences.  

Pointers And Reasoning 

The race is named after arguably the best jumps horse ever and is the first chase of the Festival. It is the novices’ championship over two miles and is often a stepping stone to the Champion Chase in the following year. Altior won the Arkle in 2017 and is now the odds-on favourite for the two-mile championship. Footpad has shown the best form of the possible runners and is a worthy odds-on favourite. In the last five years four odds-on favourites have obliged so the confidence in Footpad is justified. FOOTPAD is higher rated over fences than Petit Mouchoir and that horse is the biggest threat so favourite backers can enjoy another winner. 

Guide to the Ultima Handicap Chase

2018 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 13th

  • Steeplechase (Three miles and 100 yards – Old Course)
  • Open to horses aged five-years-old and older 

The Ultima Handicap Chase has had several sponsors in the past and Ultima began their sponsorship in 2015. The race is one of the most competitive handicap chases of the season. Horses that run well often then run in the Grand National as the winners in particular are weighted well and are proven over a long distance in a big runner field as the race is always well oversubscribed due to the prestige and prize money.   

The Last 10 Winners of the Ultima Handicap Chase 

  • 2017 – Un Temps Pour Tout (9/1) David Pipe, Tom Scudamore 
  • 2016 – Un Temps Pour Tout (11/1) David Pipe, Tom Scudamore 
  • 2015 – The Druids Nephew (8/1) Neil Mulholland, Barry Geraghty
  • 2014 – Holywell (10/1) Jonjo O’Neill, Richie McLernon
  • 2013 – Golden Chieftain (28/1) Colin Tizzard, Brendan Powell Jnr
  • 2012 – Alfie Sherrin (14/1) Jonjo O’Neill, Richie McLernon
  • 2011 – Bensalam (5/1) Alan King, Robert Thornton
  • 2010 – Chief Dan George (33/1) James Moffatt, Paddy Aspell
  • 2009 – Wichita Lineman (5/1F) Jonjo O’Neill, Tony McCoy
  • 2008 – An Accordian (7/1) David Pipe, Tom Scudamore

Ultima Handicap Chase Trends 

  • 12 of the last 16 winners carried less than 11st to victory.
  • There has not been a winner rated higher than 150 for thirty years plus.
  • 12 of the last 15 winners were amongst the top four in the betting.
  • Novices have won four of the last 10 runnings.
  • There has been just four horses aged eleven or over placed in the last 15 runnings.
  • Nine of the last 19 winners have been placed at the Festival before.
  • Seven of the last 13 winners won on their previous outing to the festival.
  • Paul Nicholls has never won this race. 

Pointers And Reasoning 

This is just about the hottest three mile handicap chase of the season and graded horses are targeted at the race. The weights have yet to be issued but horses carrying more than 11 stone have a poor record this century. Despite the quality the top rated horses rarely deliver as there is usually an unexposed horse lurking towards the bottom of the handicap. SINGLEFARMPAYMENT has the form to contend and must have a chance given a reasonable handicap mark. The horse was pulled up on heavy ground at Cheltenham in January. However, the second place effort carrying 11 stone 4 pounds in a handicap chase over three miles one furlong at the track last autumn is eye catching form in the context of the Festival race.

Guide to the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

2017 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 14th

  • Hurdle Race (Two miles 1/2 furlong – Old Course)
  • Open to horses aged four-years-old and older 

The Champion Hurdle as the name of the race suggests is the championship race of the season for hurdlers. It is the most prestigious hurdle race in the National Hunt calendar and is the third race of the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival. The feature was first run in 1927 when the prize for the winner was £365, though by 2014 the owner’s prize money had risen to £238,051. 

The Last 10 Winners of the Champion Hurdle 

  • 2017 – Buveur D'Air (5/1) Nickey Henderson, Noel Fehily 
  • 2016 – Annie Power (5/2) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh 
  • 2015 – Faugheen (4/5) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2014 - Jezki (9/1) Jessica Harrington, Barry Geraghty
  • 2013 – Hurricane Fly (13/8F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2012 – Rock On Ruby (11/1) Paul Nicholls, Noel Fehily
  • 2011 – Hurricane Fly (11/4F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2010 – Binocular (9/1) Nicky Henderson, AP McCoy
  • 2009 – Punjabi (22/1) Nicky Henderson, Barry Geraghty
  • 2008 – Katchit (10/1) Alan King, Robert Thornton 

Champion Hurdle Trends 

  • 28 of the last 33 winners won last time out.
  • 21 of the last 33 winners finished in the first 4 at last season’s Festival.
  • 15 of the last 19 winners were either Irish trained or trained by Nicky Henderson.
  • 5 year-olds are 1-93 since 1985.
  • Only 2 horses have won aged 10+ in the race’s history.
  • Only 3 of the last 25 Christmas Hurdle winners have gone on to win this.
  • Only 1 of the last 26 International Hurdle winners have gone on to win this.
  • Only 1 winners since 1993 did not have a prep race in the same calendar year.
  • No unplaced horse from the previous year’s renewal has won for 21 years. 

Pointers And Reasoning

The Champion Hurdle has a history of producing multiple winners and there are no contenders for this year’s race with the form to prevent back-to-back wins for Buveur D’Air. You won’t get rich backing the horse at 2/5 but a return on investment of 40% is attractive because this is Buveur D’Air’s race to lose. My Tent Or Yours keeps coming back but the horse was not quite good enough in his pomp and other runners are preferred. A Faugheen back to his best would have a chance but the devastating ability seems to have been lost after an extended absence due to injury. Despite the cramped odds there is no viable alternative so BUVEUR D’AIR is tipped to win the Champion Hurdle again.   

Guide to the Mares' Hurdle Race

2018 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 13th

  • Hurdle Race (Two miles four furlongs – Old Course)
  • Open to fillies and mares aged four-years-old and older

The Mares’ Hurdle was first run at the meeting in 2008 and the race features nine hurdles. Other than the first staging when it was on the fourth day the race has been run on the first day of the festival. The championship hurdle race for fillies and mares was originally given Grade 2 status but was upgraded to a Grade 1 race in 2015. 

The Last 10 Winners of the Mares Hurdle

  • 2017 – Apple's Jade (7/2) Gordon Elliott, Bryan Cooper
  • 2016 – Vroum Vroum Mag (4/6) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2015 – Glens Melody (6/1) Willie Mullins, Paul Townend
  • 2014 Quevega (8/11F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2013 – Quevega (8/11F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2012 – Quevega (4/7F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2011 – Quevega (5/6F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2010 – Quevega (6/4F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2009 – Quevega (2/1F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 2008 – Whiteoak (20/1) Donald McCain, Jason Maguire 

Mares Hurdle Trends

  • The 2014 winner Quevaga won the race 6 times and dominates the trends
  • Irish trained horses have won 9 of the 10 renewals
  • Front runners have a poor record in this race
  • 7 of the 10 winners were favourites
  • 5 of the 7 winning favourites were odds-on
  • The Warfield Mares Hurdle at Ascot is the best guide for British runners

Pointers And Reasoning 

Quevega won this race six times which is a record for any race at the Festival. Apple’s Jade will not get anywhere near that tally but back-to-back wins are perfectly feasible. The horse won the race at 7/2 last season but is now odds-on for a successful defence of the mares’ championship races for hurdlers. Apple’s Jade is trained by Gordon Elliott and most of the potential opposition is in the care of Willie Mullins, his rival for the jumps trainer’s title in Ireland. Lets Dance is a high class mare who won the novices’ version of the race last year and Vroum Vroum Mag is a Grade 1 winner but APPLE’S JADE has the form to win the race again.   

Guide to the National Hunt Chase

2018 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 13th

  • Steeplechase (Four miles – Old Course)
  • Open to horses aged five-years-old and older 

The National Hunt Chase is the main long distance race of the meeting for novice chasers ridden by amateur jockeys and the race includes 24 fences and almost three circuits of the track. It is the longest and most often run race in the history of the festival. In the early history of the race it was the second most important race of the season after the Grand National. The event now has listed status but other races have become more important.    

The Last 10 Winners of the National Hunt Chase 

  • 2017 – Tiger Roll (16/1) Gordon Elliott, Lisa O'Neill
  • 2016 – Minella Rocco (8/1) Jonjo O’Neill, Derek O’Connor 
  • 2015 – Cause Of Causes (8/1) Gordon Elliott, Jamie Codd
  • 2014 – Midnight Prayer (8/1) Alan King, Joshua Newman
  • 2013 – Back In Focus (9/4F) Willie Mullins, Patrick Mullins
  • 2012 – Teaforthree (5/1F) JT McNamara, Rebecca Curtis
  • 2011 – Chicago Grey (5/1F) Gordon Elliott, Derek O’Connor
  • 2010 – Poker de Sivola (14/1) Ferdy Murphy, Katie Walsh
  • 2009 – Tricky Trickster (11/1) Nigel Twiston-Davies, Sam Waley-Cohen
  • 2008 – Old Benny (9/1) Alan King, Charley Huxley 

National Hunt Chase Trends 

  • There has only been two winning five or six year old in the race since 1989.
  • Ten of the last 15 winners had run over fences on three or four occasions before the Festival.
  • Jonjo O'Neill has trained five of the last 16 winners.
  • Three of the last sevenx winners have been top rated and the favourite.
  • 29 of the 34 winners had finished in the top four in their last prep run.  

Despite being a race for amateur jockeys the National Hunt Chase attracts a decent field. Minella Rocco was the winner in 2016 and that horse finished second in last year’s Gold Cup, beaten by less than three lengths. Presenting Percy is the current favourite but only two market leaders have won the race in the last ten years. Gordon Elliott has trained the winner twice in the last three years so his runners will go to Cheltenham with a chance. PRESENTING PERCY was beaten by one length by Our Duke at Gowran Park carrying seven pounds less. That form is not good enough for the Gold Cup but in the context of the National Hunt Chase was an excellent trial.   

Guide to the Novices’ Handicap Chase 

2016 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 13th 

  • Steeplechase (Two miles four furlongs – Old Course) 
  • Open to fillies and mares aged five-years-old and older 

This event was added to the schedule in 2005 and is a listed handicap that closes the programme on the first day of the festival which has been voted the most popular day in the racing year. This race is just below championship standard but brings together some of the best novice chasers of the season who jump 16 fences. The race has had several sponsors in its history and this year the title sponsors are Close Brothers.  

The Last 10 Winners of the Novices’ Handicap Chase 

  • 2017 – Tully East (8/1) A Fleming, Denis O'Regan 
  • 2016 – Ballyalton (12/1) Ian Williams, Brian Hughes 
  • 2015 – Irish Cavalier (11/1) Rebecca Curtis, Paul Townend 
  • 2014 - Present View (8/1) Jamie Snowden, Brendan Powell 
  • 2013 – Rajdhani Express (16/1) Nicky Henderson, Mr Sam Waley-Cohen
  • 2012 – Hunt Ball (13/2F) Keiran Burke, Nick Scholfield 
  • 2011 – Divers (10/1) Ferdy Murphy, Graham Lee 
  • 2010 – Copper Bleu (12/1) Philip Hobbs, Richard Johnson
  • 2009 – Chapoturgeon (8/1) David Pipe, Timmy Murphy 
  • 2008 – Finger On The Pulse (9/1) Tom Taaffe, Barry Geraghty  

Novices’ Handicap Trends

  • 9 of the 11 winners won or finished second last time out.
  • 8 of the 11 winners were beaten on their first 2 chase starts.
  • 10 of the 11 winners started in the first 5 in the betting.
  • 5 of the 12 winners were handicap chase debutants.
  • 3 of the last 6 winners carried top weight since the race was open to 0-140 horses.
  • Only 3 of the 14 horses carrying a penalty has managed to place.  

Pointers And Reasoning 

Favourites have a poor record in this race and only one has obliged in the last ten years. No trainer or jockey has won the race more than once over that spell. Horses in the top few in the betting do well and the biggest price of the winners since 2008 is 12/1. The weights had not been announced by the middle of February so the betting is very open. No horse at the time was quoted at single figure odds. DIVINE SPEAR should me much shorter than the quote of 16/1 on the day but the horse should be backed with bookmakers offering best odds guaranteed. The run behind Delegate at Musselburgh carrying six pounds more is decent form for the Cheltenham race.  

Daily Betting Offers
33/1 Mo Salah To Score

Customers new to Ladbrokes can back Mo Salah to score in the Russia v Egypt match at 33/1. The maximum bet is £1 and returns are paid in the form of free bets.

28/1 Goal in Russia V Egypt

New customers with Coral can back a goal to be scored in the match between Russia and Egypt at 28/1 but the maximum bet is £1.

Open Account Offer

Up to £100 in Bet Credits for New Customers at bet365 Min deposit £5 and 1x settled bet requirement to release Bet Credits. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. 18+, Time limits and T&Cs apply.

PriceItUp Bet Builder

BetVictor's version of customised betting is called PriceItUp.

All Sports Acca Insurance

Boylesports provide insurance against losing sports multiple bets.

Football Acca Insurance

BetVictor have an offer for insurance against losing accumulator bets.

Search Our Website
Topical Feature Lists

If you fancy a break from the serious side of betting, take a look at our Topical Feature List for a bit of a giggle.

Click Here To View The List »
Download Our App
Free Bets IPhone App
Get the Freebets App on iTunes

Download the free bets finder.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE APP »
Betting Blog

View our latest sports articles in our betting blog

Read Our Blog »
Back to Top