We’re just weeks away from the start of the Cheltenham Festival and the anticipation is building ahead of the highlight of the jumps season.
If you’re on the lookout for some early Cheltenham tips, here are seven horses we’re backing to shine around the famous Gloucestershire racecourse.
Cheltenham Tips – Seven to Watch at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival
Fiddlerontheroof – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The Supreme is the curtain-raiser for four days of exhilarating jumps action from Prestbury Park and Fiddlerontheroof could have you dancing on the ceiling if he can make it three wins-in-a-row in the first.
Colin Tizzard was delighted in January as the 6-year-old won the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in outstanding fashion. He has bags of ability and when Robbie Power pressed the button, he kicked five lengths clear of the competition.
The opener could be run to suit him and if he is close to the pace going over the second last, he will have a great chance of giving the Tizzard yard their first Supreme winner.
Saldier – Champion Hurdle
The main race of day one looks to be a wide-open contest with no real stand-out contender.
Willie Mullins has saddled four Champion Hurdle winners in the last decade, but his last winner of this race was the superstar mare, Annie Power in 2016.
Seven-year-olds have a good record in this race and Saldier put a 371-day break away from the track behind him as he won the Morgiana Hurdle in good fashion with stable mates Klassical Dream and Sharjah in behind, who he could reoppose. That race has proven to be good preparation for subsequent winners Faugheen and Hurricane Fly.
Willie Mullins has not run him since, and it looks as though he will go straight to the Festival.
The most worrying stat behind this is that 84% of the last 20 winners of the Champion Hurdle have had 2-7 starts in the previous year and five of the last ten winners have gone off favourite but he could be the sort that runs best fresh.
Easywork – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
The first race of day two looks like it will revolve around Gordon Elliott’s superstar, Envoi Allen, but his biggest rival could be from the same stable.
Somewhat ironically, Easywork made hard work of his last run at Leopardstown where he was beaten by nine lengths by current Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite, Asterion Forlonge. However, that was coming off the back of three impressive wins by an accumulative 33 lengths and could have just been an off-day.
He is currently double figure odds in the latest Cheltenham betting and could easily outrun those odds on the day.
Champ – RSA Chase
Champ looked all over the winner of the Dipper on New Year’s Day when a poor jump at the second last saw him depart with jockey, Barry Geraghty.
He ran an almighty race in last years Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle where he bumped into a spirited City Island to finish second. This sparked a run of three straight victories including winning the Sefton Hurdle at Aintree at the RSA Chase trip of just over three miles.
He is rightly favourite for this race and he could give Nicky Henderson his fourth winner of the race following the successes of Trabolgan (2005), Bobs Worth (2012) and Might Bite (2017).
Faugheen – Marsh Novices’ Chase
This would be the ultimate fairy-tale. The horse that every National Hunt fan loves looked to be heading into retirement after being pulled up in the Aintree Hurdle but three superb chase wins in Ireland have put the popular 12-year-old bang in the frame to win the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
A win in this would give him his fourth Cheltenham Festival success after his Neptune Novices’ Hurdle win in 2014 and his two breath-taking Champion Hurdle victories in 2015 & 2016.
Paisley Park – Stayers’ Hurdle
Paisley Park is looking for back-to-back wins in the Stayers’ Hurdle and could be considered the most dominant 3+ miler since the majestic Big Bucks.
Aidan Coleman knows all about Paisley Park’s flat spots, but the jockey has done a stellar job since taking the reigns on him since 2018 which has sparked an unbeaten streak of seven wins when the pair partner up.
Emma Lavelle will be hoping for a magical eighth win in a row and a second Stayers Hurdle victory.
Santini – Cheltenham Gold Cup
Santini marked himself as a serious Gold Cup betting contender with his victory in the Cotswold Chase where he finished his race strongly.
He is the most consistent horse in the field and he could break his Festival duck in the biggest race of the week.
Nico de Boinville had success in this race with Coneygree in 2015 whilst Nicky Henderson could claim his third victory following the wins of Long Run (2011) and Bobs Worth (2013).
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