Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Festival: Get started early with our 2019 tips

After a succesful four days of punting, James Stevens gives a few of his antepost tips ahead of next year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Hollowgraphic – Supreme (20/1 – William Hill)

Willie Mullins really loves this horse and I do feel he could progress into a smart sort for the master trainer. He ran out a really impressive winner on his last start in bumper company, and is regarded as one of the leading young prospects at Closutton. He will probably be aimed at the Supreme, as a two-mile trip looks ideal for him on his breeding. He goes on most ground, looks a speedy sort, and is most certainly worth following next year.

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Samcro – Arkle/JLT (10/1 – Paddy Power)

A sensational novice performance in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle has put Samcro right at the top of all the markets, with bookmakers fearing the worst from Gordon Elliott’s star. He looks set to step back in trip and head to the Arkle, but the JLT over a similar trip is another option for him. He is made for chasing and will only improve over the larger obstacles, expect him to be a big player at Cheltenham once again.

Buveur D’Air – Champion Hurdle (7/2 – Bet365)

Nicky Henderson’s star is a dual champion of the Champion Hurdle, and if he makes it to the Festival he could prove very tough to beat once again. He looked simply superb this season, handling the testing conditions well before finishing off superbly to land this by a neck. The plan will be to return to Cheltenham, and he’s still a young horse so could even continue to improve into next season! He is one of the best around and he could prove very tough to beat.

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Topofthegame – JLT or RSA (16/1 and 20/1)

Topofthegame is another highly regarded horse for the Paul Nicholls yard, and he remains a big player over fences next season. He was jumping pretty well on his novice debut this season, before taking a crashing fall at Newbury and he’s been campaigned over the smaller obstacles this year and has proved his class in big handicap hurdles. Fourth in the Lanzarote, he then won a big prize at Sandown before losing out by a tiny margin at this Festival. He has plenty of big runs in years to come.

Altior – Queen Mother (7/4 – William Hill)

It was hard not to be extremely impressed by Altior’s win in the Champion Chase this year. Working hard on the ground and against a much fitter rival in Min, he enjoyed a seven length victory in the race and remains a true racing superstar. His victory was totally sensational and he has leading form claims going into next year’s Festival. The division isn’t the strongest, and a horse of his calibre will prove extremely hard to beat.

Ok Corral – Stayers Hurdle (33/1 – SkyBet)

I have always been very taken by this horse and he ran a cracking race in the Albert Bartlett to finish second, and he could progress in the hurdling ranks this season. He has taken a fair bit of time to get right, but he looks like one that is improving well and I think next season could be the year he really turns into a smart prospect. This division is quite open, with Penhill running out a surprise winner and I imagine he will have leading claims once again.

Footpad – Gold Cup (12/1 – SkyBet)

The Gold Cup was an epic this year, and next year the likes of Sizing John, Presenting Percy, Shattered Love, Balko Des Flos could all feature, however I am very excited to see what Footpad can do. He has looked like a superstar since going over the larger obstacles winning what looked a good Arkle effortlessly. Willie Mullins is still seeking his first taste of Gold Cup success, and this could be one of his strongest chances in years. Although posing a challenge to Might Bite and Native River won’t be easy.

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