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Cheltenham day one tips


Cheltenham Day One Tips: Benie Des Dieux has unfinished business

Two of our expert Syndicate Captains and blog contributors David Young (Cheltmental) and Steven Dowler (Architect Tips) are joining forces at Cheltenham. They will be previewing each of the four days of the festival in a bid to take down the £20,000 Place 6. Read on for the Cheltenham Day One Tips and, if you agree with their selections, join their Syndicate here.


13:30 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

SD: CAPTAIN GUINNESS could be a dark horse for this race.

He won on his hurdles debut when Blackbow fell at the last. It would have been a close battle if that former smart bumper horse hadn’t fallen. He was then touched off by Andy Dufresne, although that one didn’t boost the form next time, it was a good run in defeat for one so inexperienced.

It is very interesting Henry De Bromhead has kept him fresh for the Supreme instead of gaining more experience beforehand but he is clearly a well regarded sort with plenty more to come.

I am a huge fan of ABACADABRAS, one of Ireland’s top bumper horses last season. He has won three of his four starts over hurdles, his only defeat came when second behind Envoi Allen in a grade one. He was beaten by a length and had Irish Champion Hurdle runner-up Darver Star back in third, which is the best form on offer in the Supreme.

ABRACADABRAS was last seen winning a grade one by eight lengths easily, despite making a few mistakes. Although a couple of his opposition ran below form, it was a still a solid performance and his fourth in last year’s bumper here behind Envoi Allen was a good effort. I have no worries about him getting up the hill like many do. He is a strong traveller who normally jumps nicely and I make him the one to beat as he has proved he handles soft ground without any problem.


DY:  My biggest worry with ASTERION FORLONGE is that he does jump to his right, which in most cases would be enough to end his chances here. However, I’ve been taken by the speed he’s shown, especially for a horse who should be better over longer distances. He made light work of winning the Grade 1 at Leopardstown, which has been a great pointer to this race, and managed that without Paul Townend on board. Does like to be up with the pace which should suit in this race but there are straighter jumpers than him in here

EDWARDSTONE  has shown some neat form this season, beating the Tolworth winner and Ballymore Trial winner with a penalty. He tried a hood at Haydock on ground that would have been soft enough for him, so comes out of that race with a second which also reads well. Likely to be shy of Grade 1 class and may prefer a flatter track but a nice horse all the same and I think he’ll have more behind than in front of him

One I do like at a price is SOVIET PIMPERNEL, who is a Graded winner. I’m not sot sure what his riding arrangements will be but, with respect to Kevin Sexton, he might have won the Masterson Hurdle in October under a more experienced jockey. He will be much better on a sounder surface but handles ease too so I think he’s versatile enough to run a big race, although I’m under no illusions that he’ll need some good fortune to be up with the winner.



14:10 – Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase

SD: FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES has a really good chance here. I like him a lot and he has a great chance of reversing the form with Notebook.

As we know he handles Cheltenham well having bolted up as a juvenile. He was a fast finishing fourth in the Supreme having come from well off the pace last season. You normally need a horse who stays a bit further to win the Arkle. Having looked at the statistics, everything points to Fakir for this and I think he has an outstanding chance of taking the honours and breaking the five-year-old trend.

One that’s certain to go for the Arkle is the Dan Skelton-trained mare MAIRE BANRIGH, who has a cracking chance of a place. She has won her last six, is 4-4 over fences and has done absolutely nothing wrong.

This is obviously her stiffest task to date going into grade one company but she is such a fluent jumper and Harry Skelton will ride her confidently near the front. With her fluent jumping being such an asset, she could get a few of these out of their comfort zone. If she handles the track, I can see her running a monster race, especially with the mares allowance in her favour too (receiving 8lbs from the boys) for owners who have enjoyed success in this race with Azertyuiop.


DY: BREWIN’UPASTORM is 2 from 2 over fences and has a very likeable attitude to chasing. He looks brave and trusting and was a fair 4th in last season’s Ballymore. Fell at the course prior to that but was running very well so he’s one I’d expect to be right in the mix. Wasn’t quite seeing out his races last term so the wind op looks to have certainly helped and this looks right up his street

Also I like the look of PUT THE KETTLE ON. A good winner here in November and hasn’t been seen since but has had plenty of racing over the summer so the break might suit. Does have a bit to find on official figures but a likeable 6yo who at least has course winning form with a couple of these in behind.



14:50 – Ultima Handicap Chase

SD: I like ACTIVIAL for this. He was last of six when last seen but that was in a grade two behind Native River. It will have put him spot on for this race having finished a fair sixth twelve months ago off a mark of 151. ACTIVIAL is 6lbs lower this year at 145, carrying much less weight. He handles the course, the stable are in good form and he acts well around this track, I think he has an outstanding chance of placing.

The Irish have a poor record in this but surely DISCORAMA looks good material to hit the frame. He is a very good horse and was narrowly denied in the four-miler here last year. He has been prepared for this race and has since undergone wind surgery. DISCORAMA’s form when splitting Delta Work and A Plus Tard is top-class. His latest spin over hurdles will have him geared up to try and go one better back at Cheltenham.

BRAVE EAGLE is worth a mention for last year’s winning connections. He has a brilliant strike rate, having won 9 of his 15 starts under rules and has looked a high-class chaser in the making. He’s won on four of his six starts including the listed summer cup under a monster weight. He’s run just once this campaign, finished a respectable 8th of 24 in the Ladbrokes Trophy against race-fit rivals and wasn’t beaten by much considering he was badly hampered late in the race.

We can expect him to come on loads for that run and he remains unexposed over fences compared some of the opposition. Nicky Henderson won the race last year with Beware The Bear and BRAVE EAGLE is his main representative this year, who has been laid out for this race with Nico De Boinville back on board. I am confident he will make a bold bid here.


DY: KILDISART looked to be held for a run last time behind MISTER MALARKY. Has won here before, although on the new course, and his mark is coming back down. He beat MISTER MALARKY at Aintree, giving him 4lbs last year off a 3lb lower mark, so meets that rival on 5lbs better terms and he spanked him by 5l that day.

Another I fancy is MULCAHYS HILL, the race sponsor’s runner who I’m sure will be popular. Great attitude from this horse and I think he’s got mileage in this mark and will enjoy the trip. Must have a chance



15:30 – Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

SD: DARVER STAR has a good profile for the race as those who run well in the Irish Champion Hurdle fare well in the English version.

He has shown tremendous progression since last year where he won off a mark 104 and has run up a sequence of four straights wins before running well to finish third behind Envoi Allen in a grade one. He backed up that performance when beaten by half a length in the Irish Champion Hurdle behind Honeysuckle.

The stable won the race last year with Espoir D’Allen. After what sadly happened to him, it would be a fairytale if this lad went and put up another career best effort for connections and I think he can do it.

It not easy making all in a Champion Hurdle but surely CORNERSTONE LAD shouldn’t be the price he is compared to Pentland Hills. I know he beat Buveur D’Air in the fighting fifth, who suffered that terrible injury, but it was still a good effort to win a race that normally works out well in context to the Champion Hurdle.

That is a good guide on the chances of CORNERSTONE LAD. Although he didn’t win at Haydock last time out, he was giving plenty of weight to Pentland Hills and Ballyandy, keeping on strongly to the line and losing by under one length. The ground will be in his favour on Champion Hurdle day and I think he will be a hard horse to pass if getting into his usual prominent role.


DY: You’d have to go back some way to find the last 10yo winner of the Champion Hurdle, which was SEA PIGEON (1980) and HATTON’S GRACE (1950) before that. SUPASUNDAE does have it all to do, especially as he’s not the class of those horses mentioned, but this is the right race for him.

I feel they should have come here last year but he does look like maybe he wants a bit more than 2m but not quite 3m which is confirmed by his Coral Cup Festival win over 2m 5f. I think he holds a very strong place chance, especially with that Festival winning form, and he’ll have come on a bundle for that first run at the Dublin Racing Festival as he always does. Form figures at 2m over hurdles reads – 31782112224. His 7th came in the ALTIOR winning Supreme, his 8th and 4th were both on seasonal debut. He’s placed first or second in 15 of his 18 hurdle starts after a run

CALL ME LORD won the International here in December to dispel the assumption he can only go right-handed. Undoubtably disappointing at Sandown after but his run prior at Ascot was an OK effort and he does act on any ground. Good chance that the pace of a Champion Hurdle will suit and likely to bring out the best in him. ROOSTER BOOSTER did the International and Champion Hurdle last in 02/03 and although he won at Sandown in between, he was well below his best too



16:10 – Mares’ Hurdle

SD: This promises to be a fascinating race between HONEYSUCKLE and BENIE DES DIEUX. I think BENIE DES DIEUX will win the race.

She’s proven at Cheltenham having won the race before and would have won this race easily last year but for falling at the last with the race at her mercy. I know Honeysuckle is a high-class mare who is yet to taste defeat but she hasn’t faced anything the calibre of Benie Des Dieux, who is unbeaten when standing up and her form at the present moment of time is much stronger then Honeysuckle’s. Honeysuckle will definitely give her a race but she will need to be one of the best mares we have witnessed to get the better of Benie Des Dieux.


DY: BENIE DES DIEUX is an outstanding Mares who has unfinished business in this race. She jumps beautifully in the main, so that fall last season was strange but these things happen. She has proved her class since and really will take a great deal of beating here but it looks a better renewal than last term with HONEYSUCKLE here and STORMY IRELAND in better form.

Cheltenham Day One Tips: BENIE DES DIEUX


16:50 – Novices’ Handicap Chase

SD: I do really like top-weight PRECIOUS CARGO for the Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville combination here. Nico has chosen to ride him over Champagne Mystery, who he won on nicely at Aintree last year and the step up to 2m4f will suit this seven year old, who was last seen finishing strongly to claim third in a grade two over two miles.

If conditions do remain soft, PRECIOUS CARGO will love the ground and he should easily settle better with a strong pace likely. I also think he has room for more improvement off a mark 145 and I can see him running a very big price here.

Irish raider LORD SCHNITZEL looks interesting too if connections run him here. He’s a lightly raced 7yo who has shown good form over fences, chasing home Carefully Selected a couple of times and was going to play a big part in Thyestes last time out when moving into the race smoothly before making a mess of the third last fence which ended his chance completely. He is only up 4lbs for that effort and, if he cuts out those errors, I can see him showing up really well. He is dropped back in trip with former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bryan Cooper an eye-catching jockey booking.

I do also think Nicky Henderson’s other runner, CHAMPAGNE MYSTERY, has a decent chance of running a big race. He has yet to finish outside the top two when completing and has shown good form over fences. This includes last time out when running well to finish second behind the smart Dashel Drasher, whom he was conceding 5lbs. CHAMPAGNE MYSTERY loves to race prominently so he should get a nice passage throughout and if he can put in a good round of jumping, I think he will be a very hard horse to keep out of the frame at huge odds.


DY: DE PLOTTING SHED was sent off 11/2 for this race in 2018 off a 4lb higher mark when pulled up but failed to win after for Gordon Elliott. He has twice won for new trainer Suzi Best and beat WHO DARES WINS on his last effort when giving away 5lbs. He looks overpriced if he can handle this track

TRAINWRECK is yet to win over fences from 7 starts but almost won on his last run when upped in trip for the first time. An ex-point winner who might have just found the answer to break his duck.




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