Blue Lord – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Appreciate It is warm order for the opening race of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival and rightly so, a two-time Grade One winner already this season and a trainer in Willie Mullins who has won the race a record six times however stablemate Blue Lord might have gone slightly under the radar. Still unexposed over hurdles, Blue Lord won on his debut over obstacles after an early career on the flat in France and since was thrown in the deep at the end in two Grade One’s. The six-year-old was far from disgraced in either of them, first finishing second to Ballymore favourite Blue Lord over 2 and a half miles when far too keen and then third to Appreciate It at the Dublin Racing Festival. Whilst he has work to do to reverse that form, a stronger run race could suit him and there still looks more to come and could be overpriced at 12/1.
Captain Guinness – Arkle Chase
For many, the Arkle is a straight shootout between favourite Shishkin, Energumene and Dan Skelton’s Allmankind however Captain Guineas may be one to run into a place. Henry De Bromhead’s horse was a faller two out when seemingly travelling well against Energumene at the Dublin Racing Festival and whilst it’s unlikely that he would have won, he was travelling well enough to think he may have challenged Willie Mullins’ charge. He clearly has some quirks, having also been pulled up on chasing debut but looked good winning at Punchestown in December and represents last years winning trainer. At the same time, he was seemingly travelling well in last years Supreme too before he was bought down through Asterion Forlonge. This horse is best priced 14/1 and could run into a place against the well fancied top three.
Sharjah – Champion Hurdle
For many, this may not be a dark horse but the betting certainly seems to think otherwise, as last years Champion Hurdle winner is available at 16/1. That seems an overaction to his somewhat disappointing run at the Dublin Racing festival after being so impressive at Christmas however it is important to remember that mirrors exactly last season, which concluded in finishing a fine second in this race. He may have work to do to reverse form with both Epatante and Honeysuckle and giving them weight will not be easy, but the 2021 Champion Hurdle should be run at a frantic pace and will suit Sharjah, who will be held up and the market may have misjudged him here.