With the exception of Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite Altior, the winners of the championship races at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival (Espoir D’Allen, Frodon, Paisley Park and Al Boum Photo) were all available at big prices at this time last year. In three months time the current ante-post picture is likely to look a lot different from what it is now, with a number of improvers set to enter calculations for the five main races at the four-day extravaganza.
Here are five horses who could make their presence felt at the festival, despite the current big prices currently on offer about the quintet:
Only a five-year-old so plenty of potential for more improvement over the smaller obstacles. Took the scalp of dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air in Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth last month and would be a lot shorter if in the hands of a more fashionable trainer than Micky Hammond. If the son of Delegator reproduces that effort next time, would enter Champion Hurdle picture as a serious contender.
Won his first three races over fences as a novice, in particular when thrashing Kalashnikov by 19 lengths at Sandown. Excuses for defeats in final two starts last season and ran really well when third at Newbury on reappearance. Same connections as Somersby who ran well in this race on a number of occasions and current odds of 66-1 could prove huge come the day of the race. (Also a 50-1 chance for Ryanair)
Siruh Du Lac
Six from nine over fences including two Grade 3 contests at Cheltenham. Made good use of lenient handicap mark to win Brown Advisory at this year’s festival and despite pulling up in Betvictor Gold Cup on reappearance, is still an exciting prospect. Too early to write off after one below-par effort.
This multiple Group 1 winning mare has looked short of pace between two and two and a half miles against top class opposition on her last three starts. Best chance winning again at the highest level is to step up in trip, and went down by only half a length in Aintree’s Liverpool Hurdle back in April. Would be a big player if connections decided to target the Stayers’ route with this fantastic mare.
Only sixth in last season’s Gold Cup, but at the age of seven we have yet to see the best of the Dubai Destination gelding. Cracking effort under top weight when third in the Ladbroke Trophy last time. If conditions came up testing for the Gold Cup in March, this thorough stayer would be a cracking each-way value bet.