Cheltenham Festival Racing Tips

The four day 2018 Cheltenham Festival is now just around the corner, taking place from Tuesday March 13th – March 16th 2018. Racing fans across the nation, and in fact the world, are primed for 28 competitive races, at least 14 of which are Grade 1. Some of the most highly anticipated National Hunt events of the racing calendar are taking place such as the Supreme Novices Hurdle, Champions Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, as well as the jewel in the crown, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

Bookmakers are at the ready to take literally hundreds of millions of pounds over this racing week and horse racing tipsters are already offering up expert picks for the festival. As the first race of this must-watch Festival begins, prepare to hear the on-course Cheltenham Roar, a sure fire indication of the excitement the Festival generates without fail.

So since we’ve established that the Cheltenham Festival is a hotbed of betting activity, we ought to cast an eye on who’s favoured to impressive in some of the most highly anticipated races at Cheltenham. An obvious race to focus on is of course the Gold Cup. It’s the most highly anticipated Group 1 race of them all with prize money of over half a million pounds, and attracts only the very best contenders. Winning this competittive event is never a formality.

Last year, the Jessica Harington trained Sizing John made all at odds of 7-1. He returns again this year to defend his title. Doing so would make this the first time since 2002-04 when Best Mate won three years in a row. So lightning really ‘does’ strike in the same place twice (or thrice) but with betting odd of 6-1 this time round, he clearly has some convincing of the betting public to do. He’s third favourite in fact to win the 2018 Gold Cup, with Native River 2nd favourite at 5-1 and Might Bite favourite at 3-1 with most bookmakers. Trainer Nicky Henderson recently stated that Might Bite’s work at home has been “vasty superior” to anything he’s produced previously. He was no slouch as it was, and so this surely bodes well for him.

Ruby Walsh: Two Decades at the Cheltenham Festival

At the time of writing, the 2018 Cheltenham Festival is less than a month away, and punters are eyeing up the latest Cheltenham tips, yet the most successful jockey at the Festival, Rupert ‘Ruby’ Walsh, has yet to return to the saddle. Walsh remains sidelined with the latest in a series of serious injuries, a fractured right tibia, sustained during a fall from Let’s Dance at Punchestown in November. Ironically, it was the victory of the same horse in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle last year that took his Cheltenham Festival total to 56 winners.

 

Walsh, 38, rode his first Cheltenham Festival winner two decades ago, when Alexander Banquet, trained by Willie Mullins, ran on well to beat the favourite, Joe Mac, in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Two years later, aged just 20, he won the Grand National on Papillon, trained by his father Ted, a victory he describes as the “proudest moment of my career.”

 

In October 2002, Walsh became retained rider for Paul Nicholls and so began one of the most successful partnerships in National Hunt racing. Walsh was leading jockey at the Festival for the first time in 2004 and six more times before he split with Nicholls to spend more time in Ireland with his young family. He said at the time, “The future for me will be Naas instead of Newbury and Navan instead of Haydock, but it will also be home for dinner with Gillian and the girls [two daughters, both under five] rather than a quick coffee at breakfast.”

 

Having switched allegiance to his other major employer, County Carlow trainer Willie Mullins, Walsh has proved an even greater force to be reckoned with at the Cheltenham Festival, winning the leading jockey title in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Walsh is reportedly a week, or two, away from a return to race riding but, all being well, Footpad – currently 11/8 favourite for the Arkle Challenge Trophy on March 13 – may well provide him with winner number 57.

3.45 Taunton, Tuesday, February 20

In the C&S Electrical Handicap Hurdle (3.45) at Taunton on Tuesday, course and distance winner Our Merlin has looked in the grip of the handicapper since stepped up in class at Sandown two starts ago. Indeed, Robert Walford’s 6-year-old has been raised 4lb and 1lb for finishing second and third, respectively, the last twice, making an eye-watering total of 42lb since opening his account in a lowly 0-100 handicap hurdle at Plumpton in December. Clearly, it’s difficult to argue that he’s well handicapped, but he’s holding his form well and this looks a significantly less competitive contest than those he’s contested recently. His three wins have come at Plumpton, Fontwell and here – all sharp tracks – so it’s conceivable that Sandown and Cheltenham didn’t play to his strengths and the return to less testing underfoot conditions won’t do him any harm either. Regular partner Harry Cobden, who’s 3-6 on him, once again takes the ride.

 

 

Selection: Taunton 3.45 Our Merlin to win

 

A Guide to Cheltenham Festival Betting

With the prestigious 2018 Cheltenham Festival now only a stone’s throw away the bookmaker odds and red top newspaper chatter has already started focusing on who they think this year’s ‘stand out’s might be (no pun!). Might Bite is heavily favoured at just 3-1 to win this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup with last year’s victor Sizing John also in the running. Of course there may well still be a few changes to the line ups, as one or two fancied horses have already dropped out from this and other Cheltenham races. That’s always important to factor that in, especially if you opt to place an early bet on this or any other race with a potentially large field.

Betting on big horse racing events like the Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot or the Grand National can often be a different skill / art than your typical day to day betting. With the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner it’s worth looking out for the latest Cheltenham betting odds for the 2018 festival.  These events are often highly competitive and in my opinion fewer horses slip under the radar (as can more readily happen in day to day betting, where sometimes people get rather gungho on the betting markets without really knowing a lot about what they’re laying or betting on). Weighing up the pros and cons of what to place your money on can be a trickier affair than usual.

That’s not to say there aren’t significant betting opportunities out there. The Cheltenham Gold Cup and other races at the festival have seen huge priced winners over the years and that’s just with bookmakers odds, rather than the betting exchanges. Norton’s Coin is perhaps the name that would first role off the tongue when thinking of Cheltenham betting opportunities of old. He won the Gold Cup at 100-1, then there’s Hardy Eustace winning the 2004 Champion Hurdle at 33-1, Western Warhorse winning the 2014 Arkle Challenge trophy, the list goes on! Sometimes looking for a big priced bet can be a perfectly valid option. Let’s not forget that Hove bookmaker Ben Keith took a £375,000 win bet on Willie Mullins Douvan in the 2017 Queen Mother Champion Chase, only for it to disappoint at odds of 2-9. A betting nightmare for one odds-on loving punter.

So who will be the stand outs of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival I wonder, and are there any horses in particular you’ve had your eye on. I’m naturally inclined to look beyond the favourites in the betting when I’m approaching races that have one too many unknowns for my liking, which can be true as I’ve said of the big Festivals. There will of course be long and short odds opportunities to bet on over the four day Festival and we’ll be analysing many potential selections from favourites to outsiders closer to the start of this magnificent event which in 2018 starts on 13th March and ends on 16th day of the month.

 

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Cheltenham Tips for 2018