The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest week of the year in national hunt racing. Whether you are making the pilgrimage down to Prestbury Park or enjoying the four day’s racing on the box, here are five horses to follow across the week.
Arkle Trophy – Min (Willie Mullins)
The betting for the Arkle this year is dominated by the first two horses home in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Altior got the better of Min on that occasion, however, the latter looks great value at 3/1 to reverse the form with Nicky Henderson’s runner. Min appears to have improved as a chaser and has not put a foot wrong in his two victories in Ireland so far including in his Grade One success in the Racing Post Novice Chase.
Champion Hurdle – Petit Mouchoir (Henry De Bromhead)
The top two in the betting for the Champion Hurdle, Faugheen and Annie Power have not been seen yet this season, suggesting both horses have had setbacks. With that in mind, it is worth opposing the market leaders with Petit Mouchoir who proved he belongs in the top company when he won the Grade One Ryanair Hurdle last time out. The six-year-old is available at 7/1 in the Champion Hurdle betting with Betway, where he looks to be a great bet for the race.
Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle – Finian’s Oscar (Colin Tizzard)
Colin Tizzard has dominated many of the Grade One races in the UK so far this season and as we saw in the Tolworth Hurdle, the Somerset-based trainer could have another superstar on his hands to join Thistlecrack with Finian’s Oscar. The five-year-old could not have been any more impressive at Sandown and despite that emphatic display, he can still be backed at 5/1 to win the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle where he looks the standout horse entered in the race on day two of the Festival.
Ryanair Chase – Sizing John (Jessica Harrington)
Sizing John has finished second behind the fantastic Douvan seven times in his career so far. Fortunately for the seven-year-old, Willie Mullins’ runner was not in the Grade Three Kinlock Brae Chase earlier this week where he won his first race in over 12 months. It looks like connections are going to go the Ryanair Chase route rather than the Queen Mother Champion Chase, where Douvan is the red hot favourite to come out on top. Sizing John might be able to take advantage of what could be a weak race on day three as Cue Card is now going for the Gold Cup. He is currently a 7/1 shot for the 2m4f contest but he may well be a lot shorter on the day.
Cheltenham Gold Cup – Native River (Colin Tizzard)
There is no doubt Thistlecrack has been the standout performer this season in the 3m plus division, however, at the prices, it worth taking him on with his stablemate Native River who has put in two impressive performances in the Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh Grand National. It is worth remembering that Thistlecrack is still a novice and they are going to go a ferocious pace in the Gold Cup which is a real stamina test over the 3m2f trip. At 6/1 Native River looks to be a fantastic each-way bet in the Blue Riband contest.
Enjoy the racing at Cheltenham and hopefully, you will come out at the end of the week having taken a few quid off the bookmakers!