Ruby Walsh reckons that Benie Des Dieux (meaning God’s Blessing), the 7/4 Favourite with Bet365 is his best chance of bagging a winner in the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Paul Nichols believes he has his best Cheltenham team since the days of Denman, Big Bucks and Kauto Star. He has the joint favourite in the Gold Cup with Clan Des Obeaux 4/1 and the second Favourite Topofthegame 4/1 in the RSA Chase among his many runners.
Gordon Elliott (trainer of Apple’s Jade) is the Even money favourite to win the Top festival Trainer ahead of Nicky Henderson 7/4 (trainer of Buveur D’Air and Altior among his many runners).
The Champion Hurdle will feature the dual winner and Favourite Buveur D’Air 2/1 taking on two high class mares in Apple’s Jade 9/4 and Laurina 4/1. Apple’s Jade has won her last 4 races over a varying trip of 2 to 3 miles and in her last race over 2 miles, she made all the running and won easing down by 16 lengths and in a time over 4 seconds faster than the other hurdle race on the same card that day. That performance convinced connections to re-route the mare and take on the current Champion. As well as Laurina, Willie Mullins will also saddle Sharjah and Melon who was runner up to Buveur D’Air last year. What a race in prospect!
In the Gold Cup, last year’s winner Native River 6/1 will face the 7/2 JFav Presenting Percy (last year RSA Chase winner) and Clan Des Obeaux 7/2 JFav (this year’s King George and Betfair winner) and last year’s Gold Cup runner-up Might Bite 14/1. Colin Tizzard will also saddle Thistlecrack, who won the stayers hurdle race 3 years ago and has been plagued with injury. He did finish a creditable second to Clan Des Obeaux in this year’s King George though. The current leading Festival Winning Trainer Willie Mullins will try to break his duck with Kemboy, Bellshill, Al Boum Photo and Invitation Only.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is dominated by the current winner Altior who is the 2/5 Fav, and is unbeaten in his last 17 races. He has won three festival races namely the Supreme Hurdle, The Arkle and the Queen Mother at the last 3 festivals. It will be quite an upset if Altior is beaten next week!
Paisley Park is the 5/4 Fav for the Stayers hurdle, having won his last 4 races and his last one at Cheltenham by 12L. Faugheen, the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner and Supasundae, the 2017 Coral Cup winner will provide stiff opposition
Sir Erec is an Even money favourite for the Triumph Hurdle and will be included in many accumulators throughout the week. He was a very high class Flat horse and has won his only two hurdle races, the last one very impressively. He is trained by the very talented young trainer Joseph O’Brien, son of legendary trainer Aidan O’Brien based at Ballydoyle Stables in whose care Sir Erec was before going to Joseph for his jumping career. The horse has been backed down from 20/1 and many punters will be holding those juicy antepost vouchers and looking forward to a massive pay day on Friday!
Enjoy the festival and good luck with your selections!!
*Prices correct at time of publish