Cheltenham Festival Top Tips
It’s Cheltenham eve and we are less than 24 hours away from the biggest week of jump racing in the UK calendar. There is a lot of noise out there. Every trainer, jockey and their respective connections talking up the chances of what seems like half the field in every race!
To keep things simple, I’ve opted for a tried and tested approach. Identify horses from a yard that is in form or has a history of success at Cheltenham. Look for value rather than the best horse in each race and factor in the going and how that might change over the week.
With more rain expected at Cheltenham I’m focusing heavily on horses that like soft to heavy conditions. Despite it sounding obvious I think punters often overlook this and get drawn to the horses that have been backed strongly in the Ante Post. As a result you can miss out on some value.
Given that there are 7 races a day, you’ll need deep pockets to have a selection in each. Therefore I’ve focused on a couple each day to keep things interesting.
Good Luck and Happy Punting!
Nigel Twiston-Davies thinks Al Dancer is his best chance of the week and I’m inclined to agree with him. Angels Breath undoubtedly offers stiff competition. The fact Nico de Boinville gave him the nod over stablemate Mister Fisher says it all. The favourite has won this race twice in the last 5 years. Whilst I think the price is slightly restrictive, Al Dancer looks like he could be the latest favourite to come out on top.
Nicky Henderson believes he has Buveur D’Air spot on. However his horse up against the supremely talented Apples Jade who has done nothing but impress this season. Gordon Elliot had 8-winners at Cheltenham in last year’s Festival. Whilst he is talking down the chances of matching that this year, he will be expecting Apples Jade to go very well. Melon has disappointed one too many times for me. So for punters looking for an each way bet the rarely beaten Espoir D’Allen looks like better value despite a step up in quality.
Champ is the understandable favourite going into the Ballymore and with 5 victories out of 7 starts is living up to his name. No seven year old has won the Ballymore since French Holly in 1998 and no horse has ever won the Challow and then gone on to win this race. That doesn’t mean he won’t win it but there has been a lot of money from Ireland on Sams Profile. We all know that Mouse Morris knows how to train the winner in the Ballymore. I think there might be an upset and at around 10/1 Sams Profile looks like the most likely to spring a surprise.
A simple one here but worth inclusion because it’s such a fantastic little horse. Everyone knows Tiger Roll from his victory in last year’s Grand National and rightly goes into this cross country chase as the big favourite. One of my bankers for the week. He looks set to repeat his victory of last year, bar a fall. Even money for a proven winner.
At this stage it is difficult to know what to expect from the Ryanair Chase. With runners likely dropping out and heading for the Champion Chase or Gold Cup. With that in mind a shrewd move could be to look for an each way horse now, who’s odds could significantly drop come Thursday. I think Aso is fantastic value, loving soft ground and a track specialist to boot and trained by the in-form Venetia Williams.
Paisley Park has been backed in from an initial 33/1 to be the big favourite for the Stayers Hurdle. This following a string of impressive victories around Christmas and a romping win in the Cleeve Hurdle on Cheltenham Trials Day. The price is restrictive though and the Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh charge Faugheen is a lot more appealing at 4/1. After a horrible fall in December the news and money from the Emerald Isle suggest he is back to his best.
A huge field in the County Hurdle. Malaya runs for Paul Nicholls who is in a purple patch and Western Ryder looks the part but could arguably be too high in the weights. It was interesting to hear Harry Skelton say this had been Ch’tibello’s target all year and the French horse does look generously handicapped and tempting at 12/1.
By Friday I expect the ground to be churned up so it only makes sense to go with a horse that will relish those conditions. Yes, Presenting Percy has talent in abundance and Clan Des Obeaux is a fine horse from the in-form Nicholls yard. But I am going with Native River to become the first horse since Best Mate to win back-to-back Gold Cups. I just get the feeling Colin Tizzard will get a result here. My outside chance is another one from his yard – 20/1 for Elegant Escape looks like excellent value.