Ante-Post Armchair: The Cheltenham Festival


Supreme Novices:

The packed enclosures will be in a frenzy as the tapes go up for what looks an absolute belter of a Supreme. Constitution Hill has done very little wrong and warrants his place at the top of the market. He oozed class in the Tolworth, but will have to prove he can do it on a much quicker surface.

Jonbon is hard to weigh up; he hasn’t quite produced the breathtaking performances of others in here, but the form of his functional success at Haydock last time out is working out well, and drying ground will be in his favour. Dysart Dynamo, has been electric so far, unbeaten, and winning both starts over hurdles by 19 lengths each time.

Similar to Jonbon, he has looked a little keen and buzzed up going to post, so it will be worth seeing how they handle the preliminaries and whether they can keep a lid on things. MIGHTY POTTER would be my each-way play. He will clearly stay well, and at bigger odds I wouldn’t be shocked if he stayed-on up the hill when others have cried enough.

Selection: Mighty Potter @ 6/1 with bet365 (Each-Way)


I like the chances of RIVIERE D’ETEL here. I think she would have beaten Blue Lord last time out if not for making a mess of the last. She goes on any ground and the Old Course at Cheltenham should be perfect for her.

Blue Lord naturally has to come into the conversation, as does the long time ante-post market leader Edwardstone who has bordering on flawless over fences so far this season. At bigger prices, War Lord looks a strong stayer at the trip and is a smart jumper, so he could make the places at a nice price.

Selection: Riviere D’Etel @ 9/2 with SportNation

Champion Hurdle:

This looks like an open goal for Honeysuckle. What is going to beat her? Appreciate hasn’t been seen since winning the Supreme 12 months ago by 24 lengths but if spot on then clearly has to be respected. I think Adagio will travel well into the race before finding one or two too good. He would be my play in the ‘without’ markets.

Selection: Adagio (without Honeysuckle) @ 10/1 with William Hill (Each-Way)

Mares’ Hurdle:

TELMESOMETHINGGIRL has been trained with this race in mind all season. She won the Mares’ Novice at the Cheltenham Festival 12 months ago in emphatic fashion and I am expecting lightning to strike twice for the Henry De Bromhead trained mare.

Selection: Telmesomethinggirl @ 7/2 with Betfair

As far as the remainder on the opening day, Corach Rambler would be one of my strongest handicap fancies of the week in the Ultima. Novices have an excellent record in this race, he has winning form at Cheltenham, and I would be shocked if he wasn’t better than a mark of 140. Champion Green should go well on drying ground in the Boodles, and my long standing ‘two versus the field’ in the National Hunt Chase have been Vanillier and Pats Fancy.

Video: Freebets Cheltenham Festival Preview – Day 1


Ballymore Hurdle:

This looks all about Sir Gerhard who I expect to be too good for his rivals here upped in trip. I am surprised they aren’t going the three mile route with Journey With Me who looks a thorough stayer. I think the biggest threat could come from the horse who followed home Sir Gerhard at Leopardstown last time out, THREE STRIPE LIFE. He has plenty of stamina in his pedigree and can run well upped in trip. At bigger prices, I wouldn’t be shocked if I Am Maximus ran a big race.

Selection: Three Stripe Life @ 6/1 with bet365 (Each-Way)

Brown Advisory Novice Chase:

BRAVEMANSGAME has been one of the most impressive jumpers of a fence I have seen for some time, and he looks to have rock-solid claims to land more Grade 1 honours here. He is electric from A to B, and I think the Paul Nicholls representative can demolish his rivals in this one. L’Homme Presse, Ahoy Senor and Capadanno look the biggest dangers, but Bravemansgame has the swagger and I expect him to strut his stuff at Prestbury Park.

Selection: Bravemansgame @ 9/4 with Betfred

Champion Chase:

The Champion Chase looks arguably the race of the week. Shishkin is one of the juggernauts of the jumping game and will take all the beating. His barnstormer against Energumene in the Clarence House Chase was epic and the rematch is eagerly anticipated. Chacun Pour Soi is the enigma who is yet to produce his best form on English soil and the biggest threat may come from the Dan Skelton trained NUBE NEGRA. He has a cracking record when fresh, and drying ground will aid his cause. This should be some spectacle.

Selection: Nube Negra @ 12/1 with bet365 (Each-Way)

Elsewhere, Camprond looks to have a serious chance in the Coral Cup, and Buddy Rich looks a major player in the Grand Annual – he’s been laid out for that race all season.


Turners’ Novice Chase

This could easily cut up to a very small field, but the mega-clash between BOB OLINGER and Galopin Des Champs could well be happening, and this could be absolute fireworks. My marginal preference will be for the Henry De Bromhead trained star, but not with any great confidence in a race to just to sit back and enjoy.

Selection: Bob Olinger @ Evens with Unibet


It looks a fairly straightforward assignment on paper for Allaho, who should just have too much for his rivals. Last year’s winner has maintained an unblemished record this season, and arrives here on the back of a destructive 12 length victory over Fakir D’Oudairies in a Grade 2.

ELDORADO ALLEN jumped beautifully at Newbury last time out and I think he can follow home the Willie Mullins beast. Mister Fisher is no forlorn hope for a place if the ground is riding fairly quick.

Selection: Eldorado Allen 12/1 with Coral (Each-Way)

Stayers’ Hurdle:

Well, this is a real head-scratcher. You can pick holes in all the protagonists, where for one reason or another they seem to have flaws in them. Maybe the one to be with is THYME HILL for the Philip Hobbs team. He got injured on the eve of the Cheltenham Festival last year before going on to win at Aintree, and coming into this a relatively fresh horse can play into his hands. At bigger prices, the 2020 winner Lisnagar Oscar isn’t a back number and can get involved in the places.

Selection: Thyme Hill @ 9/2 with Coral

Of the remainder, I think Statuaire is the each-way pick in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle. She is a Royal Bond winner, and drying ground will really help her chances. I think Janika could easily upset the applecart in the Kim Muir. He has plummeted down the weights, and off a BHA rating of 143, he looks dangerously well treated. The Pertemps looks too tricky to call at this stage so it will be a case of keeping the powder dry until the last minute.


Triumph Hurdle:

The Irish appear to have a stranglehold on the Triumph Hurdle, with Vauban, Pied Piper and Fil Dor all looking to play starring roles.

At bigger prices though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dan Skelton trained DOCTOR PARNASSUS ran a big race. His form is yet to poke anywhere near what his Irish counterparts have managed to produce, but he fairly bolted up in a minor event at Taunton in the manner of a very smart horse. The way in which he galloped clear from the back of the last in that 2m3f assignment was impressive and he deserves to take his chance in this.

Selection: Doctor Parnassus @ 14/1 with Paddy Power (Each-Way)

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle:

I would want to look outside those at the head of affairs and seek some value here. CLASSIC GETAWAY improved for his debut run and the application of a hood when winning a maiden hurdle at Punchestown last time out, and providing he relaxes, he should have a lot more to offer over staying trips. He will do for me as an each-way alternative to the likes of Ginto and Hillcrest.

Selection: Classic Getaway @ 25/1 with Coral (Each-Way)

Gold Cup:

It’s the big one, and what a riveting renewal we have in store. A Plus Tard has been beaten at the last two Cheltenham Festivals, but undoubtedly is a class act on his day. Like all Gold Cups, his stamina will be tested to the maximum, and the Gordon Elliott trained Galvin looks primed for the occasion. He loves Cheltenham, he stays longer than the Mother-In-Law on a wet bank holiday weekend, and ground conditions should be perfect for him.

Minella Indo won’t go down without a fight and Al Boum Photo seeks his third Gold Cup. Protektorat is the joker in the pack and brings the ‘could be anything’ vibe to the party.

Selection: Galvin @ 7/2 with Betfred

There isn’t much else grabbing my attention on the Friday apart from in the County Hurdle, where Dan Skelton has West Cork. Kept back fresh for this after a little setback, he won the Greatwood in good style and the form of that race has worked out an absolute treat. The yard have a terrific record in this and I am struggling to knock him out of the frame. Enjoy your week!