The Cheltenham Festival began with the almost perfect bet. Abracadabras backed at 7.00, went off at 3.91 and hit 1.15 in-running before going down by a short head.

The Arkle never really got going in the markets and Brewin’upastorm unseated. As predicted Epatante backed at 4.00 went off 3.00 and won like a classy mare should.

I was ahead for the day; however Benie Des Dieux had other ideas and went down by half a length after trading at 1.20 in the run. It came down to the ‘four-miler’ where I’d been laying Carefully Selected in the place market at an average of 1.66. I had Lord Du Mesnil in the win market. As predicted Carefully Selected made mistakes and unseated at the last. One thing I didn’t predict was the absolute avalanche of money for him. Lord Du Mesnil put up a brave front running performance but finished second after trading 2.00 in-running.

So a mixed bag, that on another day would’ve all lined up. Slightly ahead for the week and time to kick on!

13:30 | BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE

I could go on and on about the form of The Big Breakaway and Easywork but it amounts to nothing in comparison. I could tell you this and that is a good each-way bet, the reality is that it isn’t as ENVOI ALLEN and Sporting John should be filling two of the front three places here. So instead of wasting your time looking for value that isn’t there go with the horse that already has top class form in the book.

Envoi Allen has beaten the Supreme runner-up this season with the Champion Hurdle third back in third. That Champion Hurdle third also finished a close runner-up to the Irish Champion Hurdle and Mares Hurdle winner. Could Sporting John, a horse that was send off at 2.66 2ndFav against Master Debonair have done that? The form of his maiden hurdle victory has thrown up some winners but nothing of the class that Envoi Allen has shown.

They’ll sit Envoi Allen just off the pace a little wide to avoid all the trouble and let him go and win the race after the last. I think he should be a 1.33 shot, he’s shortened up dramatically since yesterday as the penny dropped that his form is a cut above but it still hasn’t dropped far enough.

BACK ENVOI ALLEN @ 1.66

14:10 | RSA NOVICES’ CHASE

I love the make-up of this race, there are three at the head of the market that I want to be against. Champ is a classy horse, but I think this is the wrong race for him. He has plenty of pace and to my eye he was outstayed over 2.5 miles when beaten by City Island last year. He did win at Aintree over 3m last year over hurdles, but that’s a completely different test.

Alloha was beaten by Minella Indo in last year’s Albert Bartlett, then again at Punchestown. He was beaten on chase debut by Easy Game. He came back from that to win by 21 lengths at Fairyhouse in another Beginners Chase last time out, but the form of that doesn’t look up to much with no winners from seven subsequent runs. I see no reason for Alloah to reverse form with Minella Indo and wouldn’t be confident that he could beat Easy Game.

The most interesting horse in the race for me is SLATE HOUSE, he’s double the the price of his stablemate Copperhead. Robbie Power had the choice of either and on their last piece of work he sided with Slate House. You are taking a chance on his jumping, but he’s won all three races that he’s completed this season. On seasonal debut he won here by eleven lengths looking impressive, this saw him sent off as favourite for the big handicap at the November meeting. He was travelling all over them and would’ve won going away when he fell two out. At Christmas he won the Grade 1 novices’ chase at Kempton, pulling well clear of the third.

Last time out he was sent off 5.00, third fav in the Cotswold Chase against Santini and Bristol De Mai, which suggests that he’s held in good regard. It takes a bit of a leap of faith to back him, but on jockey bookings and the ‘if’ he can show his best form he’s capable of going close here.

BACK SLATE HOUSE @ 15.0

15:30 | CHAMPION CHASE

I’m gutted that Altior hasn’t turned up here, he was making the markets for me. The plan was to place lay him and back CHACUN POUR SOI for the win. This is another match bet and I’m with the Irish runner. He beat Defi Du Seuil at Punchestown last season in what on paper looked a strong novice’s chase containing the JLT winner and the first two from the Arkle. It’s been said that he went into that fresher than as the others had had tough season. That’s a fair comment but the times that day marked him out as a real top class horse. He came out this season and finished as a runner up to the current Ryanair favourite when looking in need of the run. Last time out he won a Grade 1 at the Dublin Racing Festival beating Min in an excellent time.

I don’t think the clock lies and on drying ground I’m confident Chacun Pour Soi comes out on top here.

BACK CHACUN POUR SOI @ 2.38

MULTIPLES

With all the bookmakers going the same prices at the head of the market you can get a treble on Envoi Allen, Chacan Pour Soi and Tiger Roll at 7.27 that likely comes out a value bet to Betfair SP, so I’m adding that to the above singles.

In regards to the Cross Country it’s a race I’d rather watch than get heavily involved in, so good luck if you’re hammering into Tiger Roll or if you’re doing attempting some each-way thieving with Easysland.