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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 14 December, 2018
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The42′s Winning Post: Everything you need to enjoy Day One of Cheltenham

And hopefully pick you a winner.

32Red Winter Festival - Day One - Kempton Park Racecourse Yanworth is the favourite for the Champion Hurdle. Source: Julian Herbert/PA Wire/PA Images

Three big talking points…

1. Is Yan-worth a punt? There’s nothing about Alan King’s Champion Hurdle (3.30pm) favourite Yanworth (5/2) that suggests he has the star power of the likes of Faugheen, Hurricane Fly, Istabraq or any of the great winners of this race.

Add to that the fact he’s slow to react when he does come off the bridle and you can see why many oppose him in Tuesday’s feature race.

Moon Racer (9/1) is the most intriguing of the opposition after connections opted for this race instead of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (for which he was a 5/1 shot) and David Pipe has given punters the impression the eight-year-old may have been better off in novice company.

Buveur D’Air (4/1) is too hit-and-miss over the smaller jumps to really support at this price while Petit Mouchoir (7/1) has already shown he doesn’t have the speed to live with many of his rivals in this race.

Some think the danger to Yanworth likely comes from Brain Power (7/1), a handicapper who travels strongly and has comfortably won his last two, but he’s also hoping the ground at Prestbury Park continues to dry.

This may be a race where it’s best to keep your hands firmly in your pockets.

Ruby Walsh celebrates winning the Mares' Novices Hurdle on Limini Has Ruby made the right choice with Limini? Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

2. Mullins’ choice: Willie Mullins has a great record in the Mares’ Hurdle (4.10pm), winning the last eight runnings — with the unbeatable Quevega taking six victories — over the two miles and four furlongs.

This year, he and Rich Ricci go against type and have two horses competing in it with Ruby Walsh opting for Limini (6/5) over Vroum Vroum Mag (5/2).

Job done in terms of where you hard-earned euros are going most years, but Apples Jade (5/1) is really worthy of consideration and, even by placing, will pay almost as much as the favourite does winning.

Willie Mullins Stable Visit - Closutton Melon working out in at Willie Mullins yard. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

3. You’re twisting my Melon man: At 5/2, Melon is just too short for most, especially as the last horse to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm) after just one trip over the hurdles was Flown all the way back in 1992.

He does, however, fit with the profile of previous Mullins’ winners — and it is Willie and Ruby after all — while the absence of Moon Racer certainly helps.

Smarter punters than you and I have been whispering Crack Mome‘s (8/1) name at Cheltenham previews around the country the past two weeks and he could well be an each-way bet to get your week off to a profitable start.

NAP of the day…

At 2/9, you’re not going to back Altior to win the Arkle (2.10) unless you already have plenty of cash but he’s almost certainly going to win comfortably. Instead we’re going with Apples Jade (5/1) in the Mares’.

An each-way fancy…

BetBright Chase Day - Kempton Races Pilgrims Bay on his way to win the BetBright Chase Source: Julian Herbert/PA/PA Images

Given that he won the BetBright Chase at Kempton just last month at 25-1, we were waiting to see if Pilgrims Bay (16/1) managed to get into the Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50pm) and James Best’s mount has. The price is just way too generous to ignore.

Accumulator…

There isn’t a huge amount to be confident in on the opening day in terms of accumulators but we’re going to for Crack Mome (8/1), Apples Jade (5/1) and A Genie In Abottle (11/2 in the National Hunt Chase at 4.50pm), with €10 paying €3,510.00.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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