The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest national hunt meeting around the world and one which horse racing fans look forward to all year. There are 28 races for us to get stuck into across the four days, while bookmakers offer ante-post odds on the majority of the contests throughout the season, so there is the chance to pick up some value if you get on at the right time.
Here are the best early bets for the 2018 meeting if you want to start your portfolio for the Festival before the turn of the New Year.
Bristol De Mai – Cheltenham Gold Cup – +16000
At The Races via Twitter
The most impressive horse in the 3m chase division this season has been Bristol De Mai, who has recorded victories in the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock more recently. The margin of victory in the latter was an incredible 57 lengths as he blew his rivals away in Lancashire to put himself in contention for the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival. The improving six-year-old can still be backed at +16000 for the Gold Cup, which looks incredible value especially when you consider many of the market leaders have to prove they are over their recent injuries in the early stages of the campaign. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runner jumped really well at Haydock and there looks to be more to come from him so snap up the big price on the horse now before it disappears.
Apple’s Shakira – Triumph Hurdle – +400
Apple’s Shakira has only had the one appearance in the UK, however, as reported by Oddschecker following the race, her winning debut at Cheltenham was enough for the bookmakers to cut her odds into +400 for the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival in March. Nicky Henderson’s novice travelled so comfortably throughout the race last month before breaking away from her rivals to score by 17 lengths. The Champion Trainer has an excellent record in this race and this could be the latest star from his yard. The French-bred filly is likely to have another couple of runs before the Festival so her odds could be much shorter on the day of the Triumph Hurdle.
Faugheen – Champion Hurdle – +275
Callum via Twitter
Faugheen ‘the machine’ returned to action earlier this month after almost two years off the track to land the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle at Leopardstown. Willie Mullins’ superstar looked just as good as he did before he picked up a leg injury which ruled him out of the 2016 and 2017 running of the Champion Hurdle. The 2015 winner of the premier hurdle race at the Festival can make up for lost time in March to regain his crown. The Champion Hurdle division is not as strong as it was a few years ago, therefore, Faugheen should be more than good enough to dominate once again. The Irish horse is currently available at +275, however, if he turns up on the day, he is sure to go off at odds-on so he is worth including in all of your Festival accumulators.
The 2018 Cheltenham Festival begins on March 13 and will run through to March 16. Enjoy the 2017/18 national hunt season and good luck with your bets throughout the campaign.