Who wins the first race of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival? We have our say
There is no better way to start the Cheltenham Festival than by nailing the winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (1.20).
Willie Mullins has won four runnings of the race since 2010 and this year saddles presumptive short-priced favourite Appreciate It.
However, unlike previous seasons where a defeat for Mullins seemed unthinkable, this year's race features several contenders with real chances, each vying to get the week off to the perfect start for their connections.
Ballyadam, Metier, Soaring Glory and Blue Lord will surely give the favourite plenty to think about, but there can only be one winner when it is all said and done . . .
Day one at Cheltenham:
'He will be the fastest horse in the race'
I am one of those who thinks Appreciate It is there to be taken on, albeit just a touch less so now the prospect of soft ground is real.
Oppose the favourite and you will have quite a few running for you. The win bet for me is Metier, he will be the fastest horse in the race and best positioned if it gets in any way tactical.
I may also be tempted by a small each-way bet on Irascible. He hit loads of flights last time and still finished within nine lengths of Appreciate It. With a smoother round, he can finish closer and it would not be a shock at all if he made the frame in a small field.
'He's been campaigned to perfection'
I'm not as cold on Appreciate It as others – he is clearly the horse to beat on form and official figures – but I'm convinced that he is better over two and a half miles and with the ground drying out, I want to oppose him at the prices. It's a long week after all, pummelling the first favourite doesn't interest me.
I backed Soaring Glory ante-post for this race before his Betfair Hurdle success and still believe he's a live player, even though he has a few lengths to find on the market protagonists. Jonjo O'Neill has campaigned him to perfection and hopefully he can get in the mix on his first start in Grade 1 company.
Tuesday's free tipping:
'He took a big step forward last time'
The fact that Appreciate It is poised to go off at a shorter price than Willie Mullins' former much-hyped winners and future stars, Vautour and Douvan, highlights how poor this year's Supreme line-up is. That said, the favourite is very worthy of his price given how classy he has looked in his two Grade 1 victories this season and if he runs to that level, he will probably be good enough to win.
At the prices, I prefer the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Soaring Glory, who took a big step forward when landing the valuable Betfair Hurdle last time. He is going from a handicap to a Grade 1, but that looked a strong race and he beat them pretty easily. He is still improving too and certainly looks a Graded-level performer in the making.
'I want to take on Appreciate It'
It's a really tough race. I want to take on Appreciate It but it's purely a price thing and he could very easily win. A few have claims but the one I will side with is Soaring Glory at around 15-2.
A Betfair Hurdle winner has never won the Supreme but Get Me Out Of Here, My Tent Or Yours and Kalashnikov have all gone very close in recent years and this horse showed he has what it takes at Newbury. Don't underestimate rank outsider and likely pace angle For Pleasure, either.
Tuesday's race previews:
For all our exclusive free bet offers and must-have daily promotions click the free bets button or go to racingpost.com/freebets