3 Cheltenham Festival contenders to watch out for this weekend

Paul Townend after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup

We saw some fantastic horses over the Christmas period, as the Cheltenham Festival markets were shaken up in a big way. The Gold Cup found a new contender in A Plus Tard, while Bravemansgame announced himself as something special.

This weekend sees another band of Festival contenders hoping to stamp their credentials. We’ll have horse racing tips for all the action, including a NAP of the Day and Lucky 15 tips.

With the Grade 1 Tolworth on the agenda and several other graded races, here are 3 Cheltenham Festival contenders to watch out for this weekend!

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Al Boum Photo (9/2 for the Gold Cup)

Savills New Year’s Day Chase

He was kept warm during the Festive period, but we’ll finally see the dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo on Friday. His bid for Gold Cup history begins at Tramore in a race he easily landed twelve months ago. This may be the only time we see him before Cheltenham, winning both his Gold Cups on the back of just one prep run.

He will face just four rivals, with two of them being stablemates. He’s nineteen pounds clear on ratings from his main danger, Acapella Bourgeois, and his biggest danger, on paper, will be the fences.

Metier (33/1 for the Supreme)

Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle

A flat winner in Ireland for Andrew Slattery, Metier is unbeaten in two hurdling starts for Harry Fry. An impressive ten-length winner on hurdling debut back in October, he followed that up with a comfortable success at Ascot. On the back of those efforts, he deserves the step up in class.

He’s available at 33/1 for the Supreme at present, and that price will not hold if he does bolt up on Saturday. The stiff test at Sandown will suit and those comments also apply to Cheltenham. Ex-flat horses don’t have the best record in the Supreme, but Fry’s charge could be on the way to buck that trend.

Salsaretta (8/1 for the Mares Chase)

John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase

We’ll be treated to the inaugural running of the Mares Chase at this year’s Festival and Salsaretta bids to stake her claim on Sunday. Willie Mullins has historically dominated the mares races at the Festival and he’ll be looking to do the exact same with this new contest.

Salsaretta has gone from strength to strength over fences, unbeaten in her first four starts, including a Grade 2 at Limerick. She made return at Punchestown in a Grade B Handicap, falling at the first after being sent off just 5/1. That’s obviously not the way she wanted to start the campaign, but she’s extremely talented and can easily bounce back.

This smaller field will suit and despite having to concede weight, she likely has the class to do just that. She does, however, face Shattered Love, who is a 16/1 contender for the Mares Chase. The 2018 JLT winner defeated Cabaret Queen empathically two starts ago and is forgiven a recent run over timber. She’s a big danger back over fences with Jack Kennedy aboard.

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