With less than two weeks to go until the pinnacle of horse racing hits the fields on the Cotswolds it’s time to get serious. We’ve analysed the prospects of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival short price favourites to try and gauge a nice acca, whilst we’ve also picked out a couple of big priced players for your ante post portfolio.
If you’re new to betting on the festival then you may want to take a look at our guide on how to bet on Cheltenham Festival.
Cheltenhan Festival Preview
Arkle Challenge Trophy
FOOTPAD – 11/8
One of the most talked about races coming up to the Festival is the Arkle where many have touted Footpad to be a “lay of the meeting”. My opinion differs from those and I feel he is one hell of a horse. I’ve personally not seen a horse that jumps as efficiently as him over the larger obstacles, he barely touches a twig whilst gets from one side to the other in no time whatsoever. I am not sure if he has the same level of speed than Petit Mouchoir, Saint Calvedos and Sceau Royal however this game is about jumping and I have been nothing but impressed with the lengths he takes out of his rivals. To be fair to him he has shown a good turn of foot when the button has been pushed and my thoughts are that although Petit Mouchoir got within five lengths of him even after a big mistake early I feel he had plenty more in the tank and I cannot see him having the form reversed, I think he is a great bet even at 11/8.
BUVEUR D’AIR – 4/7
One of the weakest events on paper is the Champion Hurdle with big questions to be answered by Buveur D’Air’s nearest market rival Faugheen. If Faugheen comes back to his old self then he won’t be beaten however he is now 10 years old and had plenty of issues in his career, my opinion has been that Faugheen cracks when a rival comes near and there’s no doubt that Buveur D’Air will draw alongside at some point. Given that fact I cannot side with any other horse than Buveur D’Air.
APPLE’S JADE – 4/6
Another “banker” that I cannot oppose. My opinion based on her form this season is that she is better than ever. Mares tend to be easier to train after a break than the males and I’ve no doubt she will be tip top come the big race day. Vroum Vroum Mag is entered and came close to her last season but given how Apple’s has improved and the fact Vroum Vroum has had her issues I cannot see her coming close this time around. She is another who looks likely to come home in front at a short price.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
SAMCRO – 1/2
Although I’ve played Samcro ante post and he has a huge amount of hype, he’s the one horse I will not be playing in an acca at the festival. Granted everything he’s done so far has been nothing but impressive however this will be his stiffest test of all and there is plenty to like about Next Destination and On The Blind Side assuming they take their places. Next Destination and On The Blind Side have been impressive themselves and both shown plenty of guts when required whilst good ground is likely to suit both of them. Samcro ran once on good ground and granted he won well, the 2nd that day is rated 102, that form is not worth looking in to. I can see Samcro coming off the bridle here and it’s going to be very interesting to see how he reacts over this distance over hurdles. I’ve no doubt he’ll make a top class chaser, I want to see him bolt up here personally but there are doubts in my mind that he will.
ALTIOR – 8/11
I will certainly be adding Altior to the acca. This horse has the world at his feet and how he performed a couple of weeks ago against an apparent 90% Politologue (which I do not buy in to – you don’t run a good quality horse like that so aggressively if he’s not fit) he will only improve and it’s going to take a special one to beat him. If Douvan runs he would be interesting in opposition but again the doubts are there and he’ll need to be back to his very best to even test Altior.
Short price acca;
Arkle – FOOTPAD
Champion Hurdle – BUVEUR D’AIR
Mares Hurdle – APPLE’S JADE
Champion Chase – ALTIOR
2018 Cheltenham Festival Ante Post
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (NRNB)
PALOMA BLUE – 16/1
Despite having an entry in the Ballymore Hurdle PALOMA BLUE looks likely to take his chance in the Supreme on day one of the Festival. Henry De Bromhead’s horse finished nine lengths behind Samcro last time out in a race that wasn’t run to suit. Davy Russell tried to test the winner and his early exploits seemed to tell late in the day. Despite making the running he travelled beautifully until the second last and stayed on admirably. The form is very good. Having finished 2nd to the ill-fated Fayonagh last season on Good to Yielding ground there is every reason to believe Paloma Blue could eek out improvement on better ground. At 16/1 NRNB he looks a decent each way play.
LE BREUIL – 20/1
Ben Pauling’s horse looks likely to take his chance here in the Coral Cup off a mark of 139 and he surely has to prove better than that mark. This horse beat Benatar last term by nine lengths (now rated 149) and I think the handicapper has played down his defeat to Black Ivory last time out when giving away a whopping 19 pounds to the winner. He’ll improve for that I’ve no doubt and he looks too well handicapped to ignore here.
JLT Novices Chase
MODUS – 12/1
This race is bound to cut up with many of the market principles likely to have other engagements. I will be surprised if Modus doesn’t run here and at 12/1 he looks a nice play. He jumps well, has plenty of stamina, course and ground form. He could be underestimated here and here’s worth playing now at 12s.