RACING

Cheltenham Festival: Who are the front runners?

The Cheltenham Festival is now just over two weeks away and with punters keeping close eye on where they need to put their money, Park Life Sport takes a look at the horses to watch ahead of the races.

National Hunt Chase – Jury Duty – Day 1 – The Champion Day

Jury Duty looks to be the horse to back in the National Hunt Chase at 10/1 with the experts suggesting an each-way bet on Gordon Elliot’s horse ahead of the festival.  Having a 40% strike rate in his chase events so far this season, starting five, winning two and placing in the others, he will certainly be worth backing in some capacity.

Champion Hurdle – Melon Day 1 -The Champion Day

Willie Mullins, the trainer to watch, with his horse Melon are the recommended bet for many of the punters in the Champion Hurdle.

Buveur D’Air is currently leading the way in the odds department backed at 4/9 but with Melon’s odds only being 14/1, many feel that this is good value for money. But with Buveur D’Air tipped to dominate this division for years it could well be a tough job for Melon to the take the victory, so an each-way bet maybe be preferable.

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Champion Bumper – Hollowgraphic Day 2 – Ladies Day

Hollowgraphic is making good headway in the early betting market, starting out at 20/1 for victory in the race and is now at 6/1, after showing signs of good form in the last few months.

He made a winning return at Punchestown in December and is being tipped for a strong performance in the race.

He performed well at Cheltenham last year and early signs suggest he is one to be considered by the punters, to topple the favourite and another Willie Mullins-trained horse in the form of Blackbow.

Queen Mother Champion ChaseAltior – Day 2 – Ladies Day

Altior could be the one to lump all your money on in the Champion Chase, having been tipped to win multiple titles in this event over the coming years.

Nicky Henderson’s runner isn’t racing much at this year’s festival so this could well be his chance to really put the rest of the group to the sword.

The Cheltenham trainer has good form at past festivals, making Altior a very attractive prospect. However rival runner Charbel is expected to chase Altior all the way, so an each-way bet on either horse could be the safest option.

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RSA Steeple ChaseMonalee – Day 2 – Ladies Day

Monalee is known be to be a strong stayer in races and could well be better over the big obstacles than any other horse in this race which could well give him the edge.

He showed a good degree of form last season despite, perhaps, competing in his less favourable events over smaller obstacles. The RSA will really put him in his favourite environment and could see him easily take victory a long way ahead of any other horse.

JLT Novices’ Chase – Willoughby CourtDay 3 – St Patricks Day

Willoughby Court is another horse that looks good over the big fences and this race will allow him to showcase these skills.

Having won in Cheltenham last year, he is expected to do well again. He won three out of his four hurdles last season and his trainer, Ben Pauling, is confident of another victory and looks to be the most reliable bet for punters. Pauling has also spoke of this horse’s potential to race in the Gold Cup in a matter of years.

Death Duty is second favourite this time after being widely fancied last year, but ended up putting in a rather disappointing showing.

Although, it has been recently reported that Willoughby Court could be set to miss out with poison in his foot.

Cheltenham Gold Cup – Might BiteDay 4Gold Cup Day

Might Bite is looking like the real favourite for the signature race of the week – an exciting horse for many last year in Cheltenham.

Many of the experts are suggesting he can only get better the older he gets, and he is widely tipped for victory. Despite being susceptible to errors, he has good stamina mixed with solid jumping ability and if he can eradicate those mistakes then he has the potential to win, ahead of second favourite Native River.

JCB Triumph Hurdle – Gumball – Day 4 – Gold Cup Day

Gumball has staked his claim for this race with three impressive showings so far this season, with two second-place finishes and one win.

Given his limited experience in high-quality races it’s hard to say he is a certainty but, with his recent form, he’s definitely worth mentioning. The close challenger for this race is looking like in-form Apples Shakira who is yet to race in the UK, having only had outings in France. The horse is trained by Nicky Henderson, who has very good form in this race, taking three wins in the last 10 years.

All odds courtesy of Skybet and correct at the time of writing.

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