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Victor Chandler on day one of the Cheltenham Festival
6:22pm Monday 11th March 2013 in Sport
The opening feature race is the Champion Hurdle, with favourite Hurricane Fly (3.20) bidding to become the first since Comedy Of Errors in 1975 to regain the crown having first landed the prize in 2011.
Nine go to post and the Fly remains the one to beat having landed three Grade One races in Ireland for Willie Mullins this term.
Some reports of his recent homework have been less than favourable and Mick Fitzgerald, speaking at a recent Festival preview evening, suggested he didn't look at his best when beaten in the corresponding race last year and recommended punters hold back on backing the horse until they see how well he looks in the parade ring.
We don't have such a luxury but the Irish horse remains the most likely winner.
Grandouet is reported to have worked poorly and won't like the forecast soft ground, last year's winner Rock On Ruby wears blinkers for the first time which could sharpen him up ,but also suggests he isn't exactly working the house down. The danger is Zarkandar - a grinder and unbeaten in three this season.
Only 12 go to post for the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle and BetVictor will refund all losses on the curtain-raiser as a free bet up to £50. So if you back My Tent Or Yours and it wins happy days - if not you get your money back to use at Cheltenham in the next 26 races.
AP McCoy insists My Tent Or Yours is banker material, but I'm not so sure and I have thrown a few quid on Champagne Fever (1.30) (7/1 at BetVictor) who will surely make sure there is no hanging around with Ruby Walsh back in the plate.
The grey worked hard on Friday and, although Jezki had his measure at Fairyhouse earlier in the year, I think we might get the first Irish winner of the race since Go Native in 2009.
Jezki is the forgotten horse of the race. JP McManus bought him after his win in the Future Champions event at Leopardstown and it could be argued he has the best form in the race despite My Tent Or Yours' Newbury win last month.
Simonsig (2.05) is 4/7 but cannot be opposed in the Arkle. I spoke to Donald McCain on Saturday and he was concerned with the forecast soft ground for many of his hopes, including Overturn.
As ever the JLT Chase looks a tough nut to crack.
Favourite Our Mick may struggle to get home on what is sure to be testing ground and an e/w chance is taken on Tullamore Dew (2.40) (33/1) near the foot of the weights.
The selection hasn't won for over two years but looks well handicapped and can go well at a big price.
Quevega (4.40) is bidding for her fifth win in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle and although she is making her seasonal reappearance, she is in a different class to her rivals on all known form.
I am a big Shangani (5.15) (7/1 at BetVictor) fan and hope he can maintain his recent progressive profile although he is 10lb higher than when scoring at Catterick last time.
Many believe we will see the real Colour Squadron this afternoon and he is a massive danger. He has been placed with this race in mind all season and he and Vulcanite give leading owner JP McManus a strong hand in the race.
www.betvictor.com for all your Festival odds