725,829/1 ‘Christmas Winners’ Cheltenham Antepost Acca

Epatante wins the Christmas Hurdle under Barry Geraghty

With us now a week into the new year, long-term thoughts begin to turn towards the Cheltenham Festival.

For all of the action in the build-up to March, check out our free horse racing tips page – which includes runner-by-runner previews and selections for all of the big races.

Along with his five Christmas winners to follow, Joe Eccles has looked at the potential Festival targets for eight Christmas winners which, when combined, produces an eye-catching 725,829/1 Cheltenham ante-post accumulator – read his thoughts below.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Abacadabras

The Gordon Elliott-trained Abacadabras gained his first Grade 1 win when landing the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The Festival-opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle looks his obvious target on the back of that victory – and if taking up that engagement – he will be bidding to become his yard’s second Supreme winner after Labaik (2017).

Arkle Chase – Notebook

Notebook maintained his upwardly mobile profile when landing the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.

Rachael Blackmore’s mount catapulted himself to the head of most betting markets for the Arkle Chase on the back of that performance, and his current odds for that contest could look big come race day.

Champion Hurdle – Epatante

A murky Champion Hurdle picture received some clarity when Epatante ran out an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Nicky Henderson’s mare rates as the strongest of the British challengers for the Champion Hurdle on the back of that performance – and her powerful connections certainly know what it takes to land that prize.

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Envoi Allen

The much-hyped Envoi Allen maintained his unbeaten record with a comfortable victory in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle on Sunday.

His most likely Festival target is the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, a race that Irish-based horses have excelled in, in recent years.

Marsh Novices’ Chase – Faugheen

One of the highlights of the Christmas racing was undoubtedly the much-loved Faugheen’s victory in the Grade 1 Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase.

The now twelve-year-old proved that age was just a number when holding off the challenge of the young-gun Samcro.

The 2m4f Marsh Novices’ Chase – formerly known as the JLT – is the most likely Cheltenham target for Willie Mullins’ charge.

Ryanair Chase – A Plus Tard

Henry De Bromhead enjoyed an excellent Christmas period, with one of his highlights being the victory of A Plus Tard in the Grade 1 Paddy’s Rewards Club “Loyalty’s Dead, Live For Rewards” Chase.

An impressive winner of the Close Brothers at the Festival last year, the six-year-old’s most likely target this season is the Ryanair Chase – which his yard took with Balko Des Flos in 2018.

Stayers Hurdle – Apple’s Jade

Apple’s Jade got her career back on track with an impressive seventeen-length victory in the Grade 1 Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The addition of first-time cheekpieces clearly brought about some improvement from the Gigginstown-owned mare, and connections have since identified the Stayers’ Hurdle as her potential Festival target.

Cheltenham Gold Cup – Clan Des Obeaux

The performance that got most talking on Boxing Day was that of Clan Des Obeaux, who could hardly have been more impressive when bounding clear to land a second King George – posting a career-best RPR in the process.

There’s every chance that the son of Kapgarde will now head straight to the Cheltenham Gold Cup – for which he is currently a best-priced 8/1.

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