So, it seems the festival will get underway without any hiccups, but there are still many questions that will only be answered once the racing finishes. At the moment, the race generating the most buzz is the Champion Hurdle, as it pits two heavyweights of jumps racing against each other, Buveur D’Air and Apple’s Jade. The former is the two-time champion and slight favourite at 15/8, with Apple’s Jade, a wonderful mare who will gain an advantage in the weights, just behind at 9/4 (odds from Bet365).
Laurina can play spoiler
Indeed, so often in racing we can be focused on one or two protagonists, meaning we overlook quality opposition. Laurina, another young mare, also commands immense respect, especially in the eyes of her trainer, Willie Mullins. Don’t be too shocked if the young challenger, given odds of 7/2, steals all the limelight from the more celebrated duo.
The biggest race at the Festival, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, has also seen the buzz around it be lifted in recent weeks. Most notably, it is the form of Clan Des Obeaux that has set the betting chatter alight. The King George VI Chase winner, who is a wonderful jumper, was stupendous in a recent win at Ascot, and now, seemingly, can’t be ignored by bookmakers. He is given odds of 9/2 generally.
Gold Cup more open than it looks
The favourite for the Gold Cup, however, remains Presenting Percy, given odds of 7/2 by Betfred. Last year’s winner, Native River, is a little further back at 11/2. There are at least half a dozen other horses who could land this event though, so you join the action here to get the latest tipping advice for the Gold Cup, free bets, promos and more.
Another interesting development has been the lack of ambition from trainers in believing they can challenge Altior in the Champion Chase. Nicky Henderson’s horse has been the de facto best chaser on the planet for a few years now, but there doesn’t seem to be the usual amount of gusto from other camps in how they can take him on. He is currently priced at 4/11 from Bet365, with Min his closest rival at 5/1.
Footpad needs to shine
Indeed, all has been quiet around the horse who was supposed to be the challenger to Altior’s throne – Footpad. The Willie Mullins-trained horse won the Arkle last year at Cheltenham, which was supposed to be the prelude to a wonderful career over fences. It hasn’t quite happened as of yet, and many will be wondering if his 8/1 odds for the Arkle will be worth taking.
A final shout out should be made for both Thistlecrack and Faugheen, two older horses who have dazzled the fans at Cheltenham down the years. Thistlecrack will aim for the Gold Cup, given odds of 12/1, and Faugheen for the Stayers’ Hurdle, also at 12/1. Both will probably contest their final ever race at the Festival. Win or lose, they will deserve the great send off from the thousands of fans at Prestbury Park.