THE PUNTER'S EYE: Tips for Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival
Here are our punter's picks for the first day's racing at Cheltenham
13:30 - Klassical Dream (5/1) and Aramon (12/1) both eachway. These are both Willie Mullins horses, a trainer who has an impeccable record in the race. Klassical Dream, ridden by Ruby Walsh, will be the money horse for Irish backers having previously beat Aramon but the latter wasn't more than a neck behind on that run and should enjoy this strongly run affair.
14:10 - Ornua (14/1) has strong Irish form for Henry de Bromhead and has been tipped by a few shrewd judges for a big race here. He won't be far away and will finish better than most in the testing conditions. Duc Genievres (5/1) is also a solid contender for Mullins here.
14:50 - Beware the Bear (20/1) and Calipto (20/1) are two good eachway options in this notoriously difficult race. Beware the Bear was fourth last year and will once again stay well on testing ground. Calipto has solid form in England and the trainer is sweet on his chances. Both will give you a run for your money.
15:30 - Melon (18/1) is the eachway bet to have in a race where the top three could punch eachother out. Apple's Jade, Laurina and Buveur D'Air are all shorter than 3/1 and represent zero value. Apple's Jade let herself down at Cheltenham last year, Laurina is still a relatively unknown quantity, although highly though of, while Buveur D'Air has already been beaten this year. They could all easily win but at the prices, Melon, who was runner-up in this last year, has the course form to run into the frame despite a poor season.
16:10 - There's only one horse to consider here and that's Benie Des Dieux (11/10). It is a short price for a reason having beaten Apple's Jade in this very race last season. She hasn't run since her follow-up win from that race at Punchestown last year but Willie Mullins often put Quevega away for the year only to come back time and time again to win this race.
16:50 - Tower Bridge (10/1) is a great Irish hope here under JJ Slevin in the JP McManus colours. Has exceptional form and will handle the conditions. Has excellent eachway claims.
17:30 - Ballyward (4/1) is my idea of the winner here. He stays well and has really been crying out for the four-mile trip. He'll take on the English hot pot Ok Corral in what could be the race of the day. Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh are also sweet on Ballyward and that's good enough for me. If you want an eachway shout, have a fiver in Whisperinthebreeze (25/1) to run into a place for Jessica Harrington.