Top 5 Cheltenham Festival Good Things for 2018

top cheltenham festival favourites

Heading to the Cheltenham Festival this year but struggling to pick a winner?

Cheltenham is usually a total minefield for punters but if you’re simply after that winning feeling then we’ve picked out the top five ‘good things’ for you to keep an eye on next week.

Just remember that racing so rarely goes to script so don’t take our words as Gospel.

 

Altior – Queen Mother Champion Chase 8/11

There’s no question that Altior is the form horse coming into this year’s Festival. His unbeaten streak spans back to October 2015 and consists of 12 straight wins.

This year he returns, not to defend his Arkle crown but for one of the headline events, the Queen Mother Champion Chase. His previous form and talent means he will take some serious stopping.

Altior is going for a third consecutive success at the Festival for trainer Nicky Henderson and the trainer has had nothing but praise for his star chaser.

Describing him as a “natural athlete” and his most recent work as “perfect, absolutely superb” it’s little surprise that the punters have followed the talk and backed him into a very short 4/6.

Altior isn’t without his threats, the biggest of which comes in the form of the Willie Mullins trained duo Min and Douvan. Yet, you can live with the relative comfort that Altior beat Min convincingly by 7 lengths the last time the two met and that Douvan will be making his first racecourse appearance since a disappointing run in last year’s Champion Chase.

His odds won’t give you much of a return on your investment but, bar a jumping mishap, it’s hard to envisage any scenario that doesn’t involve him winning Wednesday’s showpiece race with ease.

BREAKING NEWS: This morning Altior was lame with some puss located in his foot but trainer Nicky Henderson is still confident he’ll be cleared to run on Wednesday.

 

Buveur D’Air  – Champion Hurdle 4/7

Last beaten 2 years ago by stablemate Altior in the 2016 Supreme Novices Hurdle, Buveur D’Air comes into Cheltenham with an excellent recent record.

The big bay has won one all of the last nine races stretching back to April 2016 paired with fantastic recent prep performances, the 4/7 price can probably be justified.

Respect has to be given to former champion Faugheen but with just two runs to his name in the last two years, you have to be taking a leap of faith to give him any chance.

Aidan Coleman has also recently come out in support of old warrior My Tent Or Yours, but given his head to head record with Buveur D’Air, it’s hard to see anything other than a win for the current Champion.

A little look at his final leap and acceleration up the much talked about ‘Cheltenham Hill’ that has sapped the energy of so many others shows you that 4/7 is probably a fair reflection.

 

Samcro – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle 4/6

Samcro might be the most hotly anticipated and talked about horse to race in this year’s festival.

Heavily tipped as Ireland’s “banker” of the week, Gordon Elliott’s six-year old has some lofty expectations to live up to.

Seven races run, seven wins and in every race he’s lined up as a convincing favourite.

The six-year-old has not in truth been really pushed since landing his first win in 2016.

Since then, the novice hurdler has won by 17, 15, 12 and five and a half lengths respectively. Last time out, Samcro faced his toughest test lining up in his first Grade One race, the Deloite Hurdle and came home with relative ease.

Gordon Elliott’s success at the Gloucestershire course and all other factors considered, Samcro would need a very flat performance to be beaten at The Festival this year.

The ease at which he came home at Leopardstown against strong opposition last month should be enough to have all connections on stand by for a successful day out.

 

Apple’s Jade – OLBG Mares Hurdle 8/13

Last year’s victory in the OLBG Mares Hurdle the Cheltenham Festival cemented the classy mare’s position in horse racing’s elite and this year, Gordon Elliott’s mare has been set the task of defending her crown and creating history for the Gigginstown Stud.

Although not raced since December, the six year-old comes off the back of five consecutive wins and has fought off older rivals and previous festival winners Supasundae and Nichols Canyon this season to ensure an unblemished record since last season’s Cheltenham prep run.

The subsequent good form of her beaten rivals have ensured that she is the clear market leader.

Second favourite Benie Des Dieux has faced very little competition in her two wins to date this season and Le Bag Au Roi failed to perform at last year’s festival. Despite looking good on her most recent win at Ascot, the Warren Greatrix-trained mare would need significant improvement to better Apple’s Jade in this year’s renewal

A little look at Apple’s Jade toughing it out against last year’s Stayers Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon in Decembers Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle emphasises the quality she can produce on her day.

 

Laurina – Mares Novices Hurdle  – 8/11

Described by Willie Mullins’ assistant, David Casey as a combination of Secretariat, Arkle and Frankel rolled together one would assume that this five year-old is destined for Festival success both this year and in the coming years.

Laurina out of the aptly named Lamboghina has shown an electric turn of foot in her last two days out, winning off the bridle by a convincing margin on both occasions.

Described by some as another ‘Mullins supermare’ it’s hard not to be optimistic of her chances.

Although you’ll likely find significantly better value in the form of an each-way bet elsewhere, this fine mare has every chance of romping home unchallenged at 4/5 if you’re to believe the connections.

 

Be Bold

Normally our ‘Be Bold’ footer would notify you of a high priced accumulator of all five ‘Good Things’. Yet, if you are to believe industry experts, being bold this year may be looking to back a rival of one of these five at a more daring price.

However, If you are convinced that our ‘Good Things’ will get you that winning feeling then an accumulator with all five involved comes in at a not so juicy 12/1. That should tell you exactly what the market thinks of their individual chances.

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