Willie Mullins looks set to dominate the Cheltenham Festival once again. The master trainer has no fewer than nine favourites across the four days at time of writing. Cheltenham is so competitive that there’s absolutely no way they can all win. We’ve picked out three favourites you should be looking to take on at the Festival next month.
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Currently the Arkle favourite, El Fabiolo shot to the top of the market with a 10-length victory in the Irish equivalent. A key factor appears to have been forgotten here, Jonbon remains unbeaten over fences and on course to race. The pair met at Aintree in April and Jonbon came out on top that day. Nicky Henderson’s gelding jumped like a stag at Sandown two starts ago and should have too much for El Fabiolo.
The bubble has perhaps burst with this horse. It was a disappointingly flat effort in the rearranged Clarence House Chase on Cheltenham’s new course last time. Energumene finished six-and-a-half lengths behind Edwardstone in that race and there’s no real reason to expect a reversal of that form. Despite being the defending champion, we can’t see him keeping his crown.
This horse is an absolute monster but despite that, he’s worth taking on at his current price. Free going and buzzy, the Gold Cup is an energy-zapping test which perhaps won’t suit this horse. The sheer number of class horses that have been defeated by this extended 3m2f test is long. Despite being one of the best horses in training, there may be others better suited to this unique challenge. His dramatic fall at the final fence at Cheltenham last year may also have left a scar. Last year’s winner A Plus Tard is tried and tested and can bounce back in glorious fashion.
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