The four-day Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday with the opening race an intriguing clash between the best young hurdlers from England and Ireland.
Constitutional Hill and Jonbon represent the home team, but I prefer the Willie Mullins-trained Sir Gerhard. Mighty Potter could also run well at a big price and would be the selection if Sir Gerhard runs in the Ballymore on Wednesday.
The Arkle Chase that follows is another Irish/English battle. Edwardstone carries the hopes of the English but I am being unpatriotic and backing Riviere D’etel from the Gordon Elliott yard.
The feature race is the Champion Hurdle. Honeysuckle won the race last year and is unbeaten in fourteen races. She will probably win again but her compatriot Teahupoo offers better value and looks a decent each-way bet.
Fantastika and Aye Right are my two against the field in the Ultima Chase with the former, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, just getting the nod.
The last three races on day one could all go to Ireland.Burning Victory looks a good bet in the Mares Hurdle whilst The Tide Turns has been well backed for the Boodles Hurdle.
Run Wild Fred could be another Elliott winner in the National Hunt Chase, especially if top amateur Jamie Codd is in the saddle.
The Champion Chase is the feature race on Wednesday with the re-match between Shishkin and Energumene the highlight of the week. Their clash at Ascot may have taken more out of them than people think so I am opposing both with last year’s runner-up Nube Negra.
That man Elliott could be the trainer to follow again on Wednesday as I fancy his Ginto to win the Ballymore Hurdle and American Mike to win the Bumper.
He also saddles the ageless Tiger Roll in his bid for an amazing sixth Festival success in the Cross Country Chase.
Paul Nicholls does not have the firepower of old but usually has a winner so I am hoping it is Thyme White in the Grand Annual Chase.
L’Homme Presse has been a fancy of mine for the Brown Advisory Chase for a while but the form of the Venetia Williams yard is worrying. I have ruefully passed him over in favour of the Willie Mullins-trained Capodanno.
He is owned by legendary punter J P McManus who could also win the Coral Cup with Camprond.
Thursday and Friday’s previews in next week’s column.
Garlick’s Goodies: TUESDAY – 13:30 Sir Gerhard; 14:10 Riviere D’etel; 14:50 Fantastikas; 15:30 Teahopoo (ew); 16:10 Burning Victory; 16:50 The Tide Turns; 17:30 Run Wild Fred.
WEDNESDAY – 13:30 Ginto; 14:10 Capodanno; 14:50 Camprond; 15:30 Nube Negra; 16:10 Tiger Roll; 16:50 Thyme White; 17:30 American Mike.