Cheltenham 2019 Preview

| February 12, 2019

Runners with a Point to Prove

Serious punters now busily deliberating over Cheltenham fields.

It’s now just over a month to the Cheltenham Festival (12-15 March). Britain’s national hunt racing showcase has its usual melange of superstars in imperious form and others leaving trainers scratching their heads. While it makes sense to back the likes of Altior (4/9, Champion Chase) or Buveur D’Air (7/4, Champion Hurdle), it’s those horses who could bounce back at the Festival who are a little more intriguing from a betting perspective. 

Below we look at a few who have had some difficulties in the recent past, yet who certainly possess enough quality to make a claim for glory at Cheltenham and could perhaps offer some value. All odds are sourced from 888sport’s Cheltenham betting section: 

Might Bite: 16/1 – Cheltenham Gold Cup

We are starting with a horse with a very, very big question mark over his head. Might Bite led the ante-post markets for the best part of six months after finishing runner up last year. The 2017 King George winner was regarded as one of the best long-distance chasers on the planet and was expected to reassert that this season. However, he showed frankly terrible form over the British winter. He has undergone a routine breathing operation in January, leaving him plenty of time to get ready for the Gold Cup. 888sport go NRNB on the Gold Cup, and there is a feeling that Nicky Henderson will only put Might Bite in if he truly thinks he can challenge. 

Footpad: 6/1 – Champion Chase, 6/1 – Ryanair Chase 

2019 was supposed to be Footpad’s year. The 2018 Arkle winner was supposed to kick on and throw down the gauntlet to Altior as the best middle-distance chaser in the business. In two runs this season, Footpad has fallen once and finished a close second in the other. There isn’t anything discernibly wrong with his form, it’s just that he hasn’t been the spectacular horse everyone thought he would be. In terms of betting, it’s probably best to wait to see if he has another run before Cheltenham, but those NRNB odds for the Ryanair Chase might be worth taking. He’s a class act. 

Faugheen: 9/1 – Stayers’ Hurdle

Ask any Irishman to name their favourite hurdler of the modern era, there’s a fair chance they will name “The Machine” at the top of the list. His CV is wonderful, with the highlight obviously being the 2015 Champion Hurdle. Last year he finished 6thin the race, which led to most pundits believing that the great Faugheen’s career had come to an end. However, he surprised nearly everyone in racing by reinventing himself as a long-distance hurdler and winning the Irish Stayers’ Hurdle a month later. He has been really patchy this season, but this is – once again – a very open Stayers’ Hurdle in 2019. It’s worth noting that Faugheen beat the 2018 winner of this race, Penhill, by 13lengths in that Irish Stayers’ victory. Can the old legs hold up and deliver one more bit of magic? 

Laurina: 7/2 – Champion Hurdle 

Laurina is unbeaten in her five-race career, so this is not a case of a horse that is carrying bad form into the Festival. Rather, it is the fact that Laurina will be taking on Apple’s Jade (7/4) and Buveur D’Air (7/4) in this race, and some pundits believe the mare has no business challenging these two superstars. However, Willie Mullins feels Laurina is capable of becoming special in the mould of his other great mares like Annie Power and Quevega. It’ll be tough, but if Mullins believes it is a special horse, it must be special indeed. 

Category: Betting

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