We are now just six days away from the greatest week on the calendar year, the week of the Cheltenham Festival. Although we are not at the final declarations stage just yet, we have a very good idea what will be running where at this stage. With that in mind, I have highlighted my four biggest fancies of the Festival, and I won’t be boring tipping short favourites! These four horses are juicy prices and can all be backed on a Lucky 15 using our ready made betslip here on the page.
Marine Nationale should be shorter in the betting than Facile Vega for me personally. Barry Connell’s unbeaten French Navy gelding won the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse when last seen, and although he only won by the skin of his teeth, he didn’t like the ground and the race was run at a crawl so everything went against him on the day and he still won. High Definition will ensure that he gets plenty of cover and a strong pace to aim at in the Supreme and back on good ground, I think he’s a great bet.
Three of the previous five winners of the Boodles won the novice hurdle at Naas in February before going on to win at Cheltenham. Although that’s a small sample size, that’s some stat so I am strongly on the side of Andy Slattery’s Sir Allen, who won that same race at Naas. The form of his second to Blood Destiny in a Cork maiden hurdle prior to that looks really strong now as that horse heads the betting for the Triumph and I think Sir Allen is far too big a price to ignore myself.
I don’t think Appreciate It gave his true running when thumped behind stablemate El Fabiolo at Leopardstown in February, and I am expecting to see a completely different horse turn up here. Second in a Champion Bumper and a wide-margin winner of the Supreme Novices’, he clearly has a love for the track despite disappointing in the Champion Hurdle last year off the back of a lengthy absence. He has only had one blip over fences to date and I can easily forgive him that.
This year’s renewal looks like one of the hottest races of the Festival on paper, but I have been very sweet on the McNeill runner Three Card Brag for the last couple of months. He got outpaced in the Grade 2 at Navan in December over 2m4f but rallied gamely and nearly got back up to beat Inthepocket on the line, but just failed. That was the sign of a true staying type and he won well against a well fancied Mullins runner since. I hope the ground isn’t too quick for him but he’s a major player.
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