Cheltenham Festival 2018 Ante Post Betting Preview

For many racing enthusiasts, the Cheltenham Festival is pick of the racing calendar and with so much class action stretching across four days, it’s not hard to see why. The superb facilities at Cheltenham are expected to once again attract over 200,000 spectators and early estimates suggest more than £500m will be bet on and outside of the course.

With total prize money boosted this year to £4.3m, we take a look at the biggest race on each day and who are the early favourites to make the headlines.

Only just over two months to go now until the betting behemoth that is the Cheltenham Festival is upon us once again, and with the markets for the major contests now having a more solid look to them, it seems as good a time as any to dip our toes into the ante post waters. Here’s where our cash is going.

Champion Hurdle – Tuesday 13th March

Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’air stands out a mile here, but taking an odds on price so far in advance doesn’t appear to have much of an upside. His presence in the field does however make this an ideal race for an each way punt.

Of the others towards the head of the betting, Faugheen’s fitness is a doubt, Melon was beaten by The New One and My Tent Or Yours last time, whilst Yorkhill seems unlikely to run. Continuing to work down the list, My Tent Or Yours is eleven years old now, Defi Du Seuil ran a shocker on his seasonal return, Min will surely be kept to chasing and this must be third or fourth in the list of targets for Apple’s Jade.

By process of elimination then the Gordon Elliott runner, Mick Jazz, starts to look pretty appealingly priced at 33/1 with Coral. The Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle in January made the headlines this year due to the flop of Faugheen, but it was Mick Jazz who landed the spoils. A strongly run race at this trip ought to suit him well and he looks worth an each way investment.

Queen Mother Champion Chase – Wednesday 14th March

With many of the big bookies going non runner no bet on the Cheltenham Festival, the first port of call should be an investment on Douvan at 5/1. The horse referred to as an “aeroplane” won’t be anything like that price if making it to post.

A peak form Altior will take some stopping but It is once again one of the runners at a bigger price who catches our eye here. Like Altior, Willie Mullin’s, Great Field is yet to run this year but was fairly rocketing through the ranks at the back end of last season, finishing off with an eleven length rout of a Grade 1 field in the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown. In a race which is looking more open with each passing day, the 14/1 available with Ladbrokes looks worth taking now.

Stayers’ Hurdle – Thursday 15th March

If there’s a favourite worth backing at this stage it looks to be Sam Spinner here. Of his main market rivals, Yorkhill surely won’t go here, the connections of Apple’s Jade seemingly remain committed to the Mares Hurdle, Yanworth is currently pursuing a chasing career and Penhill is yet to be seen this year.

With so much doubt about the competition, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Jedd O’Keefe’s impressive Long Walk Hurdle winner start significantly shorter on the day. Still only five, he may even have a fair bit of improvement to come and we see him being mightily tough to stop. Get on at 4/1 with Betfair.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Day – Friday 16th March

This looks one of the most wide-open renewals of the festivals flagship contest in years. Might Bite leads the way on the back of his win in the King George, but the bare form of that effort probably doesn’t entitle him to be quite so short for this.

Minella Rocco hasn’t shown much so far this season, but he did run his best race of the current campaign last time out behind Road To Respect in the Christmas Chase, and his record at Cheltenham in March makes for most encouraging reading.

Two starts at the festival have yielded a win in the marathon National Hunt Chase, and a second in this race to Sizing John last year. There was nothing finishing better than this Jonjo O’Neill runner that day, and he may have gone even closer had he not been held onto for so long. Still only eight years old, and with plenty of likely pace in the race, this may be set up for a finisher and he looks the one to be on each way at 20/1 with Ladbrokes.