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Power can scale heights with Fiddlerontheroof in opening Festival race

Ian Gaughran


Fiddlerontheroof and Robbie Power. Photo: ©mark cranhamphoto.com

Fiddlerontheroof and Robbie Power. Photo: ©mark cranhamphoto.com

Fiddlerontheroof and Robbie Power. Photo: ©mark cranhamphoto.com

A wide-open afternoon kicks off the Cheltenham Festival today, where we can probably expect some funny outcomes on the testing ground.

Robbie Power could very well be in clover come the end of the afternoon and he can kick things off in style with Fiddlerontheroof (1.30).

This fella will love the soft ground - the tougher it gets, the better it will be for him - as he showed when winning the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle last time out.

He has steadily improved through the season and had some smart form in defeat early on (including behind classy Thyme Hill and the re-opposing Edwardstone).

Since those two runner-up efforts, Colin Tizzard's six-year-old has won twice, showing a devastating turn of foot in heavy terrain in the Tolworth.

The ground has come up in his favour and he has been freshened up for this. With Power in the plate, he can get us off to the perfect start this week.

At much bigger odds, Edwardstone is excellent each-way value.

Notebook is a strong favourite for the Arkle, but one at a massive each-way price is Rouge Vif (2.10)for Harry Whittington and Gavin Sheehan.

This lad won a Grade Two novice hurdle last year and was placed in the Grade One at Aintree subsequently, before his chasing campaign.

He was probably a little disappointing at Cheltenham early in the season but has been transformed since, having had wind surgery. He was a fine second in the Wayward Lad at Kempton before really impressing with his jumping and how he powered through in the Kingmaker race at Warwick last month.

That run puts him bang in the mix here and he would be a single-figure price today if he was trained by a more fashionable trainer, probably one of the favourites. He, therefore, represents an excellent bet.

The Ultima is wide open but two at interesting prices are Atlanta Ablaze and Mister Malarky (2.50).

Atlanta Ablaze was running best of all after three miles in last year's National Hunt Chase before a tired fall late on and should not be such a long shot, while Mister Malarky bounced right back to form last time and was a fine fourth in the RSA last year.

That run puts him in good stead for this, providing the ground doesn't become horribly soft.

The Champion Hurdle can return to Ireland as Supasundae (3.30) can just see off Darver Star up the hill for Jessie Harrington and Power.

He has been largely overlooked, probably due to being 10 years old now, but he ran a really encouraging race on his return in the Irish Champion Hurdle, with three lengths now to find on Darver Star.

He rarely runs a bad race, will relish the testing conditions and is sure to be battling all the way up the hill.

The Mares' Hurdle is a mouthwatering clash between two star mares in Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux (4.10).

The two are absolute superstars, but Willie Mullins' eight-time winner is just so impressive and can continue her fine run.

The Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase is another open contest, but Dan Skelton has gotten Beakstown (4.50) in the race off a perfect handicap mark of 139 after some good runs in defeat, while Lord Du Mesnil (5.30) can give Sam Waley-Cohen another Festival winner in the finale after an excellent season so far.

Indo Sport

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