All roads lead to the Cheltenham Festival in National Hunt racing and with just three months to go until the biggest meeting of the year in the sport, ante-post betting is starting to hot up. Those who place their bets early on the Festival can pick up some great value. Here are some early tips if you are looking to build your portfolio for the meeting.
Mengli Khan To Win the Arkle – 7/1
Mengli Khan was one of the leading novice hurdlers last season in the UK and Ireland and that was confirmed at the Cheltenham Festival, where he finished third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. There is a strong chance Gordon Elliott’s runner could improve further as a chaser and he has made a solid start as he looked good on his debut over fences at Punchestown. The five-year-old is 7/1 to win the Arkle in March and given there doesn’t look to be a standout 2m novice chaser so far this season, that looks fantastic value at this stage.
Buveur D’Air to Win the Champion Hurdle – Evs
Buveur D’Air was one of the latest horse racing tips to win the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle last weekend, where he defended his title in the race in an impressive performance. The dual-Champion hurdle winner is still the horse they all have to beat at the Festival in the leading 2m hurdle race. As long as he stays fit from now until March, even money is a big price on Nicky Henderson’s superstar, who is sure to be odds-on come the opening day of the four-day meeting in March.
Unowhatimeanharry to Win the Stayers’ Hurdle – 25/1
Unowhatimeanharry struggled to replicate the fantastic heights he reached during the 2016/17 campaign in the 3m hurdles division last season. A wind surgery operation in the summer though may well have fixed any issues the former Cheltenham winner was having. Harry Fry’s horse looked right back to his best at Newbury recently in the Long Distance Hurdle to give connections hopes of a strong campaign. Remarkably, Unowhatimeanharry is as big as 25/1 to land the Stayers’ Hurdle in March and that is a huge price as he has dominated this division before so he has to be respected despite being 11 years old in January.
Native River to Win the Gold Cup - 7/1
Last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup will be remembered for the fantastic dual Native River and Might Bite had from the start of the 3m2f contest to the very end. Both horses set the pace and ran the rest of the field into the ground in an almighty effort. It was Native River who had more up the hill at Cheltenham to hold off the younger horse and claim the Blue Riband event of the Festival for the very first time. The history books show it is very difficult for a horse to defend their crown in the Gold Cup as it has not been done since 2004, however, Native River remains the best of the bunch and given he has a heart of a lion, it hard to back against him repeating his success.