Cheltenham tips: Ruby Walsh’s best bets for day one at Cheltenham

Ruby was speaking on our From the Horse's Mouth Podcast.

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SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE 13:30 – SHISHKIN

This will be a very competitive opener to the festival. I think Asterion Forlonge has a tendency to jump to his right. That’s definitely a drawback for him. He doesn’t have six to eight pounds in hand on the opposition and giving away half a length to the others every jump could be the difference between winning and losing.

I’m a fan of the owner Gigginstown’s other horse, Shishkin. I think he stays really well and has a bit of speed. I really like him.

There’s plenty of others fancied too. Abacadabras seems to be the forgotten horse here. I think he could outrun his odds, and the same could be said of Elixir D’Ainay. He ran a really good race when second to Envoi Allen in the Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle back in early January. He raced too keenly at the Dublin Racing Festival on his last outing where he only came in fifth, but I think he’s been a bit forgotten about too.

But if you were to hand me a set of colours, I’d put on Shishkin‘s.

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ARKLE 14.10 – FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES

I’ve thought for some time the Irish novice chasers are ahead of the English – at two miles anyway. Put The Kettle On beat the best of the English back here in November and I can’t have her in the top three ahead of the Irish.

I think Notebook, Cash Back and Fakir D’Oudairies are a good bit ahead of her. This will be an interesting race tactically and I think if you’re having a bet you can’t back Notebook or Cash Back until you see both of them at the start and see how they’ve behaved in the preliminaries.

I think right now the safest option is Fakir D’Oudairies. I think he’s the easiest ride and the rain will help him. Tactically he’s the one who could set out in the race doing what you want him to do, make it difficult for the others and outstay them in the end.

ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE 14.50 – WHO DARES WINS

The Conditional definitely has a chance here. But if I’m being pushed here, I’d take a punt on Alan King’s Who Dares Wins.

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MARE’S HURDLE 16.10 – BENIE DES DIEUX

There’s no such thing as a formality in any race, even if Benie Des Dieux is a huge favourite. I thought she was a sure thing last year and she clipped the top bar and fell over when she was going to win.

She’s in great form and has had a better preparation than last year. She’s in wonderful form. I’ve been a huge fan of Honeysuckle since I saw her run at Thurles back in December 2018. I was always thought she was a very good mare.

But I think she’s running into a different animal here. I think Benie Des Dieux is one of the best horses in training and will be too good for Honeysuckle. He’s my best bet of the day.

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NOVICES’ HANDICAP CHASE 16.50 – LORD SCHNITZEL

I like Lord Schnitzel at a huge price each/way. He ran well at Fairyhouse back in November to finish behind Carefully Selected and ahead of Captain CJ. That was a very decent effort and is worth a look here.

NATIONAL HUNT CHASE 17.30 – CAREFULLY SELECTED

Carefully Selected is a tight price in a novice chase, but he’s a good bit clear of the opposition. He’s made a couple of mistakes of late, but I think that’s purely because he’s been the best horse and got idle out front and stopped concentrating.

I think this being a more of a competitive race with a lot of strong stayers in there will make it an easier ride for Patrick Mullins.

To get technical for a moment, it’s a lot easier to ride a horse who wants to go forward, rather than one who you need to push forward, so I think Carefully Selected will be fine here. I tipped him a long time ago at a longer price and I’m not going to change my mind now.

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