DAY ONE of Cheltenham’s three day Open meeting is always an appetiser to the main fayre, yet Friday's action is still typically competitive for the track.
Trainers will have been dreaming about rain over the past few weeks and finally the Gods have spoken.
The Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle (2.40pm) features a decent field of nine, with the two who finished first and second at last month’s meeting expected to fight out the finish again.
I’m sticking with Nigel TwistonDavies’ WHOLESTONE to confirm the form, even though he’s 3lbs worse off with West Approach, who was staying on at the finish.
This is a slight drop back in trip and Wholestone looks to be a gutsy horse who will be difficult to pass. His long term target will probably be the Albert Bartlett but I’m taking him to land this on the way.
The opening race is a veterans’ handicap chase over 2 ½ miles (12.55pm). All the contenders are 10 or older, so it’s unlikely that they have much to hide from the handicapper.
Although ERICHT is yet to win at Cheltenham, he’s run plenty of solid races here, including an excellent fourth at this very meeting 12 months ago.
That was over 3m1f and this intermediate trip is far more suitable. He’ll also love the decent ground which makes him an attractive eachway betting proposition.
Tony Martin won the two mile novices’ handicap hurdle (3.15pm) three years ago with Quick Jack and he can repeat the feat for the same owner John Breslin.
TUDOR CITY bolted up on the Flat at Limerick last month and Davy Russell is a very interesting jockey booking.
Ericht e/w 12.55pm Cheltenham
Wholestone 2.40pm Cheltenham
Tudor City 3.15pm Cheltenham