The first day of Cheltenham’s Open Meeting is arguably the best Friday meeting in the racing calendar bar the Gold Cup and this year does not disappoint.
The first race of the meeting The Steel Plate and Sections Novices’ has two brilliant hurdlers going against each other in Fingal Bay and Dynaste.
Last year saw Grands Crus conquer Cue Card and this year’s duo is equally as competitive.
Fingal Bay (5/4) was a super stylish hurdler last year until an injury hampered his season, ruling him out of the festival before a disappointing return at Aintree.
He will be looking to continue his perfect record over fences but will have his work cut out by Dynaste (15/8) and Unioniste (9/2).
Dynaste’s record on paper is not too impressive but if you take into account he took on the mighty Big Bucks last year three times then two wins from his 11 is not too bad.
It will be his first race over the bigger obstacles but if his hurdling is anything to go by, he shouldn’t have too much problem adjusting.
Unioniste ran a very good race in difficult circumstances when winning at Aintree earlier this month.
Due to a blinding sunset, most of the fences were taken out leaving only 3 to jump.
That probably didn’t help Unioniste as he seemed to gain a length over every jump. However despite the lack of obstacles, Unioniste stayed on well to win.
Another Paul Nicholls trained novice runs in the Grade 2 Novices Hurdle at 2.25. Paul Nicholls was full of praise for his 4-year-old after his win at Cheltenham last month and said he had even more to give.