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Cheltenham 2019: 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.

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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 

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 Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (1.30pm)

2019 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 12th

  • 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.  

RESULT

1st: Klassical Dream (6/1) Willie Mullins (trainer), Ruby Walsh (jockey)

2nd: Thomas Darby (28/1) Olly Murphy, Richard Johnson

3rd: Itchy Feet (25/1) Olly Murphy, J Gavin Sheehan

4th: Fakir D'Oudairies (9/2 JF) Joseph Patrick O'Brien, JJ Slevin

The Last 10 Winners of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle:

  • 2019 -  Klassical Dream 6/1)  Willie Mullins (trainer), Ruby Walsh (jockey)
  • 2018 -  Summerville Boy (8/1) Tom George, Noel Fehily 
  • 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.  

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Fact File 

  •  Ruby Walsh has ridden the winner of this race a record six times after his 2019 success. 
  • Willie Mullins has trained the most winners of this race with six victories after his win this year. 
  • Three of the last four winners of this race have all been six-year-olds. 
  • You have to go back to 1999 for the last four-year-old to win this race.

Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase (2.10pm)

2019 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 12th 

  • 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.It is the novices’ championship over two miles and is often a stepping stone to the Champion Chase in the following year. The race has had several sponsors and the Racing Post newspaper began its sponsorship in 2012.  

RESULT

1st: Duc Des Genievres (5/1) Willie Mullins, Paul Townend

2nd: Us and Them (14/1) JP O'Brien, JJ Slevin

3rd: Articulum (25/1) Terence O'Brien, David Mullins

The Last 10 Winners of the Arkle Challenge Trophy 

  • 2019 - Duc Des Genievres (5/1) Willie Mullins, Paul Townend.
  • 2018 -  Footpad (1/1F) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh
  • 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

Arkle Challenge Trophy Fact File

  • Favourites have won this race for four of the last five years.
  • The most wins for a jockey in this race is four by both Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty.
  • Top trainer is Nicky Henderson who has won this race six times.

 

Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50pm)

2019 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 12th

  • 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.

Result

1st: Beware the Bear (10/1) Nicky Henderson, Jeremiah McGrath

2nd: Vintage Clouds (16/1) Sue Smith, Danny Cook

3rd:  Lake View Lad (25/1) NW Alexander, Henry Brooke

4th:  Big River (28/1) Lucinda Russell, Derek Fox

The Last 10 Winners of the Ultima Handicap Chase 

  • 2019 -  Beware the Bear (10/1) Nicky Henderson (trainer), Jeremiah McGrath (jockey)
  • 2018 -  Coo Star Sivola (5/1) Nick Williams (trainer), Lizzie Kelly (jockey)
  • 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

Ultima Handicap Chase Fact File

  • Only one of the last six winners won carrying less than 11 stone.
  • Tom Scudamore shares the record with Robert Thornton on most winners for a jockey. 
  • The last favourite to win this race was in 2009.
  • Neither Willie Mullins or Paul Nicholls have trained the winner of this race. Nicholls has Give Me a Copper in this year's race.

 

Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (3.30pm)

2019 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 12th

  • 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. 

Result

1st:  Espoir D'Allen (16/1) Gavin Cromwell (trainer) Mark Walsh (jockey)

2nd: Melon (20/1)  Willie Mullins, Paul Townend

3rd: Silver Streak (80/1) Evan Williams, Adam Wedge

The Last 10 Winners of the Champion Hurdle 

  • 2019 -  Espoir D'Allen  (16/1) Gavin Cromwell, Mark Walsh
  • 2018 -  Buveur D'Air (8/15F) Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
  • 2017 – Buveur D'Air (5/1) Nicky 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 

Champion Hurdle Fact File 

  • Only five horses have won this race three times.
  • Ruby Walsh and Tim Moloney have both ridden a record four winners of this race.
  • Nicky Henderson has trained a record seven winners of this race.
  • Three of the last five favourites have won this race
  • Only four of the last 20 winners weren't from an Irish trainer or Nicky Henderson.
  • The winning distance has been a neck four times this century.
  • The 2018 race was won by Espoir D'Allen. The first five-year-old winner since Kachit in 2005.

 

Mares' Hurdle Race (4.10pm)

2019 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 12th

  • 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. 

Result

1st: Roksana (10/1) Dan Skelton (trainer) Harry Skelton (jockey)

2nd: Stormy Ireland (7/1) Willie Mullins, Paul Townend

3rd: Good Thyne Tara (25/1) Willie Mullins, Rachael Blackmore

 

The Last 10 Winners of the Mares Hurdle

  • 2019 -  Roksana (10/1) Dan Skelton (trainer) Harry Skelton (jockey)
  • 2018 -  Benie Des Deaux (4/1) Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh 
  • 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

Mares Hurdle Race Fact File

  • Quevega won this race six times.
  • Ruby Walsh rode Quevega to all her wins but has also had two more successes in this race making a record eight.
  • Willie Mullins has trained the winner of this race on nine occasions.
  • No favourite has won since 2014.
  • Seven-year-olds have won this race in four of the last five years.
  • The race has been won by an Irish trainer for eight of the last ten years.  

Guide to the National Hunt Chase (4.50pm)

2019 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 12th

  • 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.    

Result

1st: A Plus Tard (5/1)  Henry De Bromhead (trainer), Rachael Blackmore (jockey)

2nd: Tower Bridge (6/1) JP O'Brien, JJ Slevin

3rd: Ben Dundee (33/1) Gordon Elliott, Keith Donaghue

4th: The Russian Doyen (20/1) Colin Tizzard, Harry Cobden

The Last 10 Winners of the National Hunt Chase 

  • 2019 -  A Plus Tard (5/1) Henry De Bromhead, Rachael Blackmore
  • 2018 -  Rathvinden (6/1) Willie Mullins, Patrick Mullins
  • 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

National Hunt Chase Fact File

  • Only one ten-year-old has won this race since 2002.
  • Since 1946 Jonjo O'Neill has trained the most winners of this race with six victories. 
  • Since 1946 no jockey has rode the winner of this race more than twice. 
  • The last favourite to win this race was in 2013.

Novices’ Handicap Chase (5.30pm)

2019 Cheltenham Festival Day One – Tuesday March 12th 

  • 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.  

Result

1st: Le Breuil (14/1) Ben Pauling (trainer), Mr JJ Codd (jockey)

2nd: Discorama (9/2) Paul Nolan, Mr B O'Neill

3rd: Jerrysback (16/1) Philip Hobbs, Mr D G Lavery

The Last 10 Winners of the Novices’ Handicap Chase

  • 2019 -  Le Breuil (14/1) Ben Pauling (trainer), Mr JJ Codd (jockey)
  • 2018 -  Mister Whitaker (8/1) Mick Channon, Brian Hughes
  • 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 

Novices' Handicap Chase Fact File

  • Not since 2009 has a horse carrying less than 11 stone won this race.
  • Six-year-olds have won this race for four of the last seven years.
  • Only one favourite has won in the last 11 years.
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