There are four strong favourites on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.
The four fancies in question are Appreciate It in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (3.20), Shishkin in the Sporting Life Arkle (3.55), Honeysuckle in the Unibet Champion Hurdle (5.05) and Concertista in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (5.40).
(All changed to SA time)
We asked our experts for their view on the chances of an accumulator on all four paying dividends.
The price of the favourites
3.20 Cheltenham: Appreciate It (5-6)
3.55 Cheltenham: Shishkin (1-2)
5.05 Cheltenham: Honeysuckle (5-4)
5.40 Cheltenham: Concertista (5-4)
Prices correct as of 1.45pm
‘Shishkin is the only certainty’
Plenty of good judges have cast doubt on the first leg (Appreciate It) for a start, so your ball could be burst before your lunch hour is over.
Shishkin is basically the one certainty on the list. He will not lose on merit. Honeysuckle is probably the rightful favourite for an open Champion Hurdle, but she is no more than that.
Concertista will tank through her race and if your acca gets that far, then your pulse is definitely going to go up. I would not want to see second-favourite Roksana, who has won this race before, on Concertista’s heels jumping the last, though.
Keith Melrose, betting editor
‘Bet could fall at the first hurdle’
Shishkin wins. Honeysuckle wins. Concertista wins.
I’m not so sure about Appreciate It, even though he has made giant strides since finishing runner-up in the Champion Bumper last year and trainer Willie Mullins boasts such a fabulous record in the festival opener.
Appreciate It didn’t necessarily look in a different league to Ballyadam when beating him by three-and-a-quarter lengths at Leopardstown last month, and the Henry de Bromhead runner might improve considerably on that performance given the opportunity to tackle less testing ground.
Soaring Glory delivered a most taking display in the Betfair Hurdle, a race which has sometimes proved a fair guide to this race, and also looks potentially top-class.
The acca may well be foiled at the first.
Richard Birch, tipster
‘Unbeaten Honeysuckle faces tough task’
Plenty of punters will look to land a nice accumulator on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, but it is never as simple as just backing short-priced favourites and being rewarded.
Saying that, in Shishkin and Concertista you have two extremely solid market leaders on your side. Shishkin looks highly likely to extend his winning streak, as his odds suggest, while Concertista won by a big margin at the festival last year.
Although Honeysuckle is unbeaten after ten runs, she isn’t a certainty. She faces a champion in Epatante, as well as several talented geldings, and may find life tougher than her price suggests.
Appreciate It won’t be far away in the opening race, but there have long been doubts about the ground and trip.
Tom Collins, The Punt