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best bets Ruby Walsh and Mick Fitzgerald give their tips for day one at Cheltenham

Paddy Power pundits give their verdicts on the big races


Ruby Walsh. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Ruby Walsh. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Ruby Walsh. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The Cheltenham Festival is finally here and Paddy Power are throwing everything at their coverage of the biggest racing event of the year.

Racing greats Ruby Walsh and Mick Fitzgerald have made their selections for the opening day and here is their verdict on the six races.

Supreme Novices' Hurdle (1.20pm)

Mick Fitzgerald: A small but select field and at the prices I’ll go for BALLYADAM each-way to get close to Appreciate It.

Ruby Walsh: It’s a small field and APPRECIATE IT looks rock solid. He’s only been beaten once.

Arkle Novices' Chase (1.55pm)

Mick Fitzgerald: The Arkle Chase lost a big player when Energumene got injured and I can’t see SHISHKIN being beaten.

Ruby Walsh: With no Energumene, SHISHKIN gets my vote.

Ultima Handicap Chase (2.30pm)

Mick Fitzgerald: AYE RIGHT is one of the more exposed runners in the field but is still on the up. Milan Native is the each-way play.

Ruby Walsh: HAPPY GO LUCKY looks the one now that a lot of the leading Irish challengers have opted for other races.

Champion Hurdle (3.05pm)

Mick Fitzgerald: HONEYSUCKLE showed the pace I didn’t think she had to win the Irish Champion Hurdle and can win the day’s feature.

Ruby Walsh: HONEYSUCKLE trounced the Irish Champion Hurdle challengers and can do the same to the English ones too.

David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle (3.40pm)

Mick Fitzgerald: This is a diferent test for Concertista over a longer trip and ROKSANA has raised her game this season.

Ruby Walsh: CONCERTISTA won the mares Novice hurdle last season at Cheltenham but ROKSANA has stronger form in my opinion. But for me Concertista is the chosen one and will win.

Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle (4.15pm)

Mick Fitzgerald: SAINTSAM doesn’t look badly handicapped after his run behind Triumph Hurdle favourite Zanahiyr at Leopardstown.

Ruby Walsh: SAINTSAM is my selection. Hopefuly he won’t shorten any more because he stays strongly and will be coming home fast in this race.

National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices' Chase (4.50pm)

Mick Fitzgerald: I was very impresed with GALVIN when he won a novice chase at Cheltenham last October and he can collect again.

Ruby Walsh: NEXT DESTINATION is my best bet of the day. He was head and shoulders above these as a hurdler. He is two from two over feces.

Paddy Power are offer a free bet for all customers on the first race of the day - click HERE to collect it.

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