Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Neil Morrice: International Racing: Tuesday 16 March 2021

Neil Morrice: International Racing: Tuesday 16 March 2021

Neil Morrice Best Bets

Neil Morrice brings you all of his best bets and tips for day one of the Cheltenham Festival and from Wolverhampton.

Check out Neil's video previewing day one below.

Cheltenham


Race 1 SKY BET SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE (Grade 1)
No8 SOARING GLORY
Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill - Jockey: Jonjo O’Neill Jr

Taking winning form in top handicap company to post for an enticing Festival opener, SOARING GLORY can prove a surprise packet against paper favourite Appreciate It and the exciting Metier. Looking back to last autumn, the selection took the notable scalp of Bravemansgame at Chepstow, and came back off a short mid-season break to romp home in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. His trainer now adds cheek pieces. Appreciate It should confirm his Leopardstown superiority over Ballyadam, while Metier wowed in his work last week, and is the only unbeaten runner in the field.

Race 2 SPORTING LIFE ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY NOVICES’ CHASE (Grade 1)
No6 SHISHKIN
Trainer: Nicky Henderson - Jockey: Nico de Boinville

The Arkle seems to have fallen into the lap of SHISHKIN, who at prohibitive odds is many people’s idea of the banker of the four-day meeting. Unbeaten in three hurdles including the Supreme on this day a year ago, the seven-year-old has not had to come off the bridle in completing a hat-trick over fences and can give his trainer a seventh win in the contest at the main expense of Allmankind.

Race 3 ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE (Grade 3)
No1 CEPAGE
Trainer: Venetia Williams - Jockey: Charlie Deutsch

While my eye is drawn to the novice Happygolucky, the one that could rise to the occasion in this attractive betting heat is top weight CEPAGE. The former French-based gelding likes to get on with things, and with his spring-heeled jumping could find a prominent early position is one he can defend to the finish. He’s been lightly-raced this season, and off just three outings if fresher than most, having been trained specifically for the race. Happygolucky is a winner over fences here, as well as finishing in the money in last season’s Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle. His chance is boosted by the excellent record of novices in this. Aye Right is another to put into all combinations, having been placed in several strongly contested races since his last win more than a year ago.
Jockeys Ride Horses

Race 4 UNIBET CHAMPION HURDLE (Grade 1)
No10 HONEYSUCKLE 
Trainer: Henry de Bromhead - Jockey: Rachael Blackmore

While this doesn’t look a vintage renewal of the hurdling crown, nobody can argue that the clash of super-talented mares Epatante and HONEYSUCKLE won’t be worth going a long way to see. Epatante used her finishing kick to devastating effect when taking out the race in 2020 but in two starts this season hasn’t looked quite as razor sharp. This brings the brilliance of her trainer Nicky Henderson more into play than ever, but then there is the looming presence of Honeysuckle. The Sulamani mare looked better than ever when landing the Irish Champion Hurdle last month and if it turns into a battle up the final hill I fancy her to have the last word. For value, Abracadabras could prove a lively outsider and get into the money.

Race 5 CLOSE BROTHERS MARES’ HURDLE (Grade 1)
No1 BLACK TEARS
Trainer: Denise Foster - Jockey: Jack Kennedy

Ireland has a very strong representation headed by last year’s Dawn Run Hurdle winner Concertista. The Nathaniel mare has made great strides in an unbeaten current campaign but at likely short odds might be worth taking on with BLACK TEARS. Though no match for her rival at Leopardstown in December, the selection returned to comfortably land a Grade 3 at Punchestown at the start of the month. She’s also closely matched with Dame De Compagnie from the 2020 Festival but at the respective prices represents good each way value.

Race 6 BOODLES JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE (Grade 3)
No6 BUSSELTON
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien - Jockey: JJ Slevin

If you are behind the eight ball at this stage BUSSELTON could get you out as he takes strong claims to post for a top stable. The Mastercraftsman gelding has put in two solid earning runs at Leopardstown since joining his trainer from France. He possesses good form at Grade 1 level to take into this handicap debut, and can improve for the fitting of first time cheek pieces. Houx Gris is another French recruit that threatens to get into the argument for the powerful Paul Nicholls yard. The grey has also troubled the judge in a Grade 1 while respect is afforded to Coltor and Rivière D’Etel eho add to a potent Irish challenge for easily the most competitive race on Day 1.

Race 7 SAM VESTEY NATIONAL HUNT CHALLENGE CUP NOVICES’ CHASE (Grade 2)
No8 NEXT DESTINATION
Trainer: Paul Nicholls - Jockey: Harry Cobden

Unbeaten in two starts over fences and with his chance buoyed by the defection of Royal Pagaille, NEXT DESTINATION needs to be taken seriously in the finale. He’s fared as well as any horse that’s found its way from the Mullins yard to Ditcheat, and in beating Fiddlerontheroof at Warwick looked an exciting prospect from whom there should be much more to come. Amongst the opposition, Galvin will be no pushover after four straight chase successes this season and Escaria Ten needs respecting as his season looks to have been geared totally towards coming here.

WOLVERHAMPTON

RACE 1 No1 SERGEANT MAJOR (Nap)
Trainer: Richard Hannon - Jockey: Jamie Spencer

SERGEANT MAJOR stayed on strongly to open his account over a mile and a quarter at Chelmsford in a manner that suggests he will relish this move up to a mile and a half. He can follow-up with Spencer in the irons for the first time.

Place Accumulator Perm (Races 1-7)
1 x 8, 7, 3 x 11, 7 x 1 x 3 x 3, 2 x 4
R12

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone