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SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE (13:30) – CONSTITUTION HILL

Here we go people. Cheltenham 2022 kicks off with the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over an extended 2m. What a cracking opener. Like many, I was blown away by CONSTITUTION HILL on his debut at Sandown and he did nothing to suggest that opinion was not correct on his second start. That was in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at the same track in January when he thrashed Jetoile by 12l. Nico de Boinville was gooey after that success and Nicky Henderson seems to think he’s exceptional. Hopefully he’ll get the blog off to a flying start.

9/4 Constitution Hill

ARKLE CHASE (14:10) – WAR LORD (EACH-WAY)

Now it’s the Grade 1 Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase over 2m. Edwardstone has done nothing wrong and can easily score for Alan King and rising star Tom Cannon. I’m going to have a few quid on WAR LORD (each-way) for Colin Tizzard and Brendan Powell. He was thrashed by Edwardstone in the Henry VII at Sandown but kept on well that day and might be ridden to get a place. At the end of the day he’s been in great form over fences this season and is huge odds. A race I want to take a chance in.

40/1 War Lord

ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE (14:50) – DEATH DUTY

This is the Grade 3 Handicap Chase over 3m1f. DEATH DUTY is a once near 160-rated hurdler who can go here off 144 after banging back to form last time at Punchestown for Gordon Elliott. The once 13-8 favourite for the Albert Bartlett has been mostly disappointing recently, but he was a fine fifth in the brilliant Paddy Power Chase at Punchestown in December and that last success was decent. Stays strongly and a great racing weight on 10st 6lb.

9/1 Death Duty

CHAMPION HURDLE (15:30) – APPRECIATE IT
The big one. The Grade 1 Champion Hurdle over an extended 2m. Honeysuckle is long odds-on and will probably win for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore. That said I wasn’t impressed with her last time and I’m not sure she’s beaten much despite an amazing career of fourteen straight wins. She’s the pinup girl but APPRECIATE IT might just be the bruiser.

I can’t argue his form is better than Honeysuckle because it’s not; it’s more a gut feeling with Appreciate IT that he might just be super special. He looked a monster when second in the bumper and even more so when landing a fairly weak Supreme. He will have to be to land this on seasonal debut. Fingers crossed he runs well. Tommy’s Oscar could easily slip into the frame as he will be ridden from off the pace for a place.

4/1 Appreciate It

MARES HURDLE (16:10) – HEAVEN HELP US (EACH-WAY)
Another Grade 1 in the Mares’ Hurdle over 2m4f. I was hoping Concertista would win this, but with her out I will have a few quid each-way on HEAVEN HELP US for Paul Hennessy and Danny Mullins. My hope has been held recently by Honeysuckle and Royal Kahala but neither of those are in this and she has at least place claims with a mark of 147.

14/1 Heaven Help Us

BOODLES JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE (16:50) – GAELIC WARRIOR

Grade 3 company in the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle over an extended 2m. Hopefully the good thing of the day in GAELIC WARRIOR for Rich Ricci, Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. Of course we are all slightly guessing, but the well bred Niarchos family import ran three times in France against decent opposition and ended up with a rating of 139. For some reason the British handicappers allow him to run off 129 here and he could just be thrown in. Against that, of course, is that he’s never won a race or been in anything as competitive as this one. If he copes with this test, he could arrive on the snaff. If not, it’s wide open.

9/4 Gaelic Warrior

NATIONAL HUNT CHASE (17:30) – ONTHEROPES (EACH-WAY)

Finally on Day 1 the Ukraine Appeal National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase over 3m6f. I want to take on Run Wild Fred as I’m not sure he enjoys winning. I’ll chance ONTHEROPES each-way to hit the first two as there are only seven runners. He was fourth in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, and while he never looked like winning has since finished a decent fifth in the Thyestes at Gowran Park. Seems devoid of pace so should go well!

10/1 Ontheropes

MATT CHAPMAN’S TIPS
Supreme Novices Hurdle (13:30) – Constitution Hill
Arkle Chase (14:10) – War Lord (each-way)
Ultima Handicap Chase (14:50) – Death Duty
Champion Hurdle (15:30) – Appreciate It
Mares Hurdle (16:10) – Heaven Help Us (each-way)
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (16:50) – Gaelic Warrior
National Hunt Chase (17:30) – Ontheropes (each-way)

Picture; Appreciate It (Skysports.com)