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For many horse racing fans there is no better week than that of the Cheltenham Festival. The very best National Hunt horses, trainers and jockeys all head to Prestbury Park for some of the most entertaining races of the year including 14 Grade 1s.
As well as unbeatable drama, Cheltenham also provides punters with an incredible amount of opportunities to profit. So, to mark your card ahead of the Festival, we’ve picked out our selection of the best bets from the action.
Getabird 7/4 (Paddy Power)
Kalashnikov 5/1 (Bet365)
Summerville Boy 10/1 (888Sport)
Mengli Khan 12/1 (Sportingbet)
Paloma Blue 14/1 (William Hill)
(Please note all odds shown are correct at time of article publishing)
The big story ahead of Cheltenham surrounded Bet365 and Samcro. The firm had gone 14/1 non runner, no bet about his chances and punters snapped it up. By the time that it was confirmed Samco would be competing in the Ballymore Hurdle instead, he was down to 2/1 so his absence opens this race up nicely.
Paloma Blue certainly appeals from an each-way standpoint but the most likely winner is Kalashnikov at 5/1 with Bet365. The five-year-old has turned in some impressive performances over the winter and will likely only improve on the slightly firmer ground at Cheltenham. He won the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle last time out and is primed to claim a Grade 1.
Buveur D’Air 8/15 (888Sport)
Faugheen 11/2 (William Hill)
My Tent Or Yours 10/1 (Ladbrokes)
Yorkhill 12/1 (William Hill)
Wicklow Brave 14/1 (Betfred)
Cheltenham is as much about great stories as big wins but in the Champion Hurdle there’s the chance we’ll see both. That’s because Faugheen finally makes his return to the Festival since his victory in this race in 2015.
The Machine returned from some horrible injury problems with a commanding win in the Morgiana Hurdle in November but was pulled up next time out and then beaten by Supasundae. Can Faugheen bounce back to win the Champion Hurdle? You’d have to say it would be a case of following heart over head, especially with Buveur D’Air such a strong favourite.
Buveur D’Air has not been beaten since winning this race last year and there’s little chance of that stopping now. He may be an odds-on shot but they’re all value bets if the horse wins and that’s just what Buveur D’Air is set to do at 8/15 with 888Sport.
Presenting Percy 5/2 (Sportingbet)
Monalee 7/2 (William Hill)
Black Corton 15/2 (888Sport)
Al Boum Photo 8/1 (Bet365)
Dounikos 11/1 (Paddy Power)
The RSA Chase is a breeding ground for future Gold Cup winners. Both Bobs Worth and Lord Windermere have used the three mile, 110 yard steeplechase as a stepping stone to the big one and we may have another potential Gold Cup winner in the field this year, it’s just not the favourite.
Presenting Percy has already had plenty of support but the seven-year-old’s performances to date have made him look more like a potential Grand National winner. He has all the stamina in the world but maybe not the pace required to win the Gold Cup or the RSA Chase for that matter.
Monalee, a 7/2 shot with William Hill, looks much better placed for success on Wednesday. Were it not for a strange fall at Leopardstown in December, Monalee could well be the favourite for the RSA Chase but he put that behind him with victory in a Grade 1 next time out. There is no reason he can’t repeat that trick at Cheltenham.
Altior 8/11 (Paddy Power)
Min 11/4 (Betfred)
Douvan 9/2 (William Hill)
Politologue 10/1 (Paddy Power)
Un De Sceaux 14/1 (Bet365)
The variety of races is Cheltenham’s real strength. The Queen Mother Champion Hurdle is the chance for the very best chasers over two miles to show what they can do and what a race we have in prospect this year.
Altior may be the firm favourite at odds-on across the board but Nicky Henderson’s charge has incredibly stiff competition in Min and the returning Douvan who hasn’t been seen since disappointing so severely in this race 12 months ago. Like Faugheen, a Douvan win would be incredibly popular while punters would love an Altior victory. But it’s Min who represents the best bet at 11/4 with Betfred.
Min only appeared in three chases before being tested in Grade 1 company where he had the win taken off him by the stewards at Leopardstown before winning a Grade 2. Ruby Walsh is yet to decide whether he’ll ride Douvan or Min, if he chooses the latter you won’t be getting 11/4 on Min’s chances at the off.
Mite Bite 3/1 (Sportingbet)
Native River 5/1 (Paddy Power)
Our Duke 7/1 (Coral)
Road To Respect 9/1 (888Sport)
Killultagh Vic 9/1 (Bet365)
If we’re being honest, this is not the highest quality renewal of the Gold Cup, the most prestigious steeplechase of the year. You can pretty much pull apart the chances of all the leading contenders for the Grade 1, three mile, two-and-a-half furlong contest.
That, however, should be exciting for punters. While there is little appealing about backing any of the top three given their prices, Killultagh Vic looks very tempting at 9/1 with Bet365. He may not be Denman, but Willie Mullins’ nine-year-old is a proper unit. He’ll look better than the competition when travelling through most of the race and providing he makes no jumping mistake, Killultagh Vic can provide a healthy profit.
Kalashnikov to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 5/1 with Bet365
Buveur D’Air to win the Champion Hurdle at 8/15 with 888Sport
Monalee to win the RSA Chase at 7/2 with William Hill
Min to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at 11/4 with Betfred
Killultagh Vic to win the Gold Cup at 9/1 with Bet365