Cheltenham Festival gets under way today and we mark your card with selections for all seven races on the opening day.

1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle

It’s always a big plus if you can nail the first race and the well-fancied Shishkin has been talked up by connections but is plenty short enough in the betting for a competitive event in which several will fancy their chances.

Asterion Forlonge has been well supported overnight and Chantry House holds strong claims, but I like the look of ABACADABRAS.

A winner in three of his four hurdles starts, the only defeat came at the hands of stablemate Envoi Allen – who is highly regarded.

Fiddlerontheroof can give the selection the most to think about.

  • 1 Abacadabras
  • 2 Fiddlerontheroof
  • 3 Asterion Forlonge
  • 4 Shishkin

2.10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase

Jumping is the key here in the first chase of the Festival.

One mistake could ruin all chances and Notebook has done little wrong and justifies his position at the head of the betting.

But there could be an Oxfordshire winner, with ROUGE VIF massively overpriced at around 14-1 for Sparsholt trainer Harry Whittington.

If the ground continues to dry then expect his odds to shorten. A wind operation looks to have done the trick and he was very impressive at Warwick last time where his jumping was superb.

Cash Back looks a threat, with Fakir D’Oudaries also likely to be popular.

  • 1 Rouge Vif
  • 2 Notebook
  • 3 Cash Back

Oxford Mail:

  • Rouge Vif (left), ridden by Gavin Sheehan, jumps the last fence in the Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase during the November Meeting at Cheltenham Racecourse  Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

If you find the winner of this, it’s likely to mean you end the first day in profit.

Vinndication is an improver who may be too good for his rivals, but carries top weight in a competitive event.

At the other end of the handicap NO COMMENT has run well over further than this in the past so will be staying on while others fade late on.

The one concern is that he is prone to the odd mistake – he fell last time out – but if Richard Johnson gets him jumping, he looks on a good mark.

Discorama was second here last year in the four-mile event and is a solid each-way choice, while Cobra De Mai and Activial are worthy of consideration at longer odds.

  • 1 No Comment
  • 2 Discorama
  • 3 Vinndication
  • 4 Activial

3.30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

Many are saying this is the most open Champion Hurdle ever, but it’s hard to knock the form of favourite EPATANTE.

She has been extremely impressive this year, but the one concern is a dreadful run at last year’s Festival.

If that was a one-off, she could prove a class above her rivals and the 7lb mares allowance she receives is a huge help.

Stablemate Pentland Hills is a big threat but hasn’t sparkled this season and I fancy two Irish horses to give the favourite the most to think about.

Sharjah and Darver Star will both relish the stiff finish and are likely to be doing their best work late on.

  • 1 Epatante
  • 2 Darver Star
  • 3 Sharjah

4.10 Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle

For many BENIE DES DIEUX is the banker of the meeting – but the odds reflect that.

She fell at the final flight last year but looks primed to make amends.

Honeysuckle will give her most to think about in what looks a two-horse race.

If you’re desperate for a bet, look at those at much longer odds with Stormy Ireland and Lady Buttons both capable of making the frame.

  • 1 Benie Des Dieux
  • 2 Honeysuckle
  • 3 Lady Buttons

4.50 Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase

If you haven’t found a winner by now, you may be struggling as the final two races are extremely competitive affairs.

Beakstown looks on a tempting mark and may be helped with first time cheekpieces, while Imperial Aura will likely start as favourite but has not won a competitive race over fences, his sole success coming at odds of 1-25.

TRAINWRECK has never won over fences but is a double-figure price and put up an excellent effort at Leopardstown in a valuable handicap so has experience of these big race fields.

Hold The Note holds each-way claims but is on what looks a high enough mark, while others worthy of consideration are Galvin, Espoir De Guye and at huge odds Earlofthecotswolds.

  • 1 Trainwreck
  • 2 Beakstown
  • 3 Imperial Aura
  • 4 Espoir De Guye

5.30 National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase

This race hinges on Carefully Selected, who will be a red-hot favourite and deserves to be at the head of the betting.

But I could not back a general 6-4 shot in such a competitive heat so will look elsewhere for some value.

In these amateur events it often pays to side with an experienced jockey and Sam Waley-Cohen certainly ticks that box.

He rides LORD DU MESNIL who has proven form over the trip, will like the ground and has plenty going for him.

Newtide looks a potential improver while Springfield Fox can make the frame.

  • 1 Lord Du Mesnil
  • 2 Carefully Selected
  • 3 Newtide
  • 4 Springfield Fox