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Inside Info: BetVictor's Charlie McCann gives his tips for the 2017 Champion Hurdle

BetVictor's Charlie McCann shares his betting tips for the 2017 Champion Hurdle, which will be run on the opening day at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday March 14 at 15:30 GMT.

Today’s Champion Hurdle, feature race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, will be run on ground officially described as good to soft but likely to be riding slightly quicker given the forecast suggests it will be a dry sunny day for the opening day of the most eagerly anticipated week in the racing calendar. 

There is likely to be plenty of pace in the race with The New One and Petit Mouchoir likely to ensure a true test and the hope is that this will set the race up for the strong stayers Yanworth and Buveur D’Air (3.30) with marginal preference for the latter.

Yanworth didn’t get the best of rides when runner up in the Neptune Novices Hurdle (2m 5f) at the corresponding meeting last year but the same can be said of the selection who should have finished quite a bit closer to Min and Altior when third in the Supreme. Trained by Nicky Henderson Buveur D’Air was novice chasing earlier in the season but reverted to timber at Sandown last time when he was a fluent winner, albeit, of a modest event.    

Yanworth heads the betting at 5/2 with BetVictor with Buveur D’Air 4/1.  I think it could be a clean sweep for Britain with the drying ground a positive for Brain Power (7/1 at BetVictor) who has missed the deep midwinter ground but looked very good when last seen winning a valuable handicap at Ascot back in December.
The Willie Mullins-trained Melon (5/2) heads the market for the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but my two against the field are the favourite’s stablemate Bunk Off Early (5/1 at BetVictor) and Ballyandy (3.15) who is 10/3 second favourite at BetVictor. 

Note Mullins has four of the fourteen declared runners and stable jockey Ruby Walsh has decided to ride Melon rather than Bunk Off Early who pulled hard, but travelled like much the best horse, in a Grade1 at Leopardstown last time over 2m 2f  until he was mugged in the shadows of the post. The five-year-old was lightly raced, and no superstar, on the flat but the switch to hurdles has seen him in a much better light and he is a fast fluent jumper.

Marginal preference, however, is for Ballyandy (1.30) who did us such a big favour when winning the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last time. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies the six-year-old won the Festival Bumper at the corresponding meeting last year and looked very good when winning at the Berkshire track. There doesn’t seem to be a guaranteed front-runner in the race, which is a slight concern given a number of the runners (including Bunk Off Early) can be a shade keen but it is Ballyandy for me.

We won’t get rich backing Altior (2.10) in the Arkle but he is one of the most exciting horses I have ever seen over fences and I am looking forward to the day he locks horns with the Irish champion Douvan. The Henderson superstar is ¼ at BetVictor and my recommendation for the race would be to look at our unique Lengthen The Odds (how far will he win by?) market for Altior and Royal Caviar (9/2) in the betting without Altior market. 

BetVictor are betting ¼ odds first five places in the 24-runner Ultima Handicap Chase and luck will always play a part in such a big field. Luck was something that deserted Singlefarmpayment (2.50) who was still travelling well when brought down over 2m 5f here back in January when looking sure to play a big part in the finish. 
He runs off the same mark later today and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run into a place – he is 13/2 at BetVictor at the time of writing and must go close off his current mark.

The drying ground is a boost for Holywell (10/1) runner up in this race 12 months ago but a slight negative for the progressive novice Label Des Obeaux who would have preferred a softer surface.

The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle is a cracker with Apples Jade and stablemates Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini (4.10) giving Ireland a very strong hand. Marginal preference is for Limini who is the preferred mount of Ruby Walsh and easily disposed of Apples Jade at Punchestown on her belated seasonal reappearance. The mare has had a Quevega type preparation for her big day and I think she can give the Mullins’ yard a ninth successive win in the race - the selection is 13/8 at BetVictor.

Softer ground would have helped A Genie In Abottle in the 4m National Hunt Chase and he is overlooked in favour of Beware The Bear (4.50) who is unbeaten in two starts over fences including when scoring cosily at Newbury last time. The selection is 7/1 at BetVictor (1/5th odds first four) has the assistance of dentist-cum-jockey Sam Waley-Cohen and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t go very close.

There is only 5lbs between the top and bottom weights in the concluding novices’ handicap chase over 2m 4f. I was quite taken with the win of Captain Redbeard at Haydock last time and would love to see the small Scottish yard of Stuart Colthard have a Festival winner but a chance is taken on All Hell Let Loose (5.30) having his first start since June for Irish trainer Henry De Bromhead. 

The selection was nibbled at in the betting (16/1 from 20s) with BetVictor on Monday and can reward each way support with underfoot conditions, seemingly, ideal.
The waiting is almost over – remember new customers place a £10 bet on any sport between now and the opening race at BetVictor and you will receive a £2 free bet on every race at the meeting.   

Let battle commence.  

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Inside Info: BetVictor's Charlie McCann gives his tips for the 2017 Champion Hurdle

BetVictor's Charlie McCann shares his betting tips for the 2017 Champion Hurdle, which will be run on the opening day at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday March 14 at 15:30 GMT.

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