Cheltenham 2018 favourites: Back it or track it?
Six festival runners to consider
The 2018 Cheltenham Festival is fast-approaching, with the opening day kicking off on Tuesday, March 13th.
Much like any year, there’s a host of short-priced favourites with certain horses primed for glory more than others.
Day One, in particular, has a number of them who could get chinned depending on certain elements.
The Coral News Team pick out three horses who justify their favouritism. And then three nags for which a watching brief may be best. Check out all Cheltenham odds at Coral!
As favourites go, Buveur D’Air looks as solid as they come for the Champion Hurdle. Nicky Henderson’s charge is back to defend his crown and looks in imperious form.
The French star is unbeaten since losing to Altior in the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, winning on his last nine starts.
Faugheen is his nearest challenger in the betting but Willie Mullins’ 10-year-old looks a little past his prime.
Speaking of defending champions, Apple’s Jade goes again in the Mares’ Hurdle after her 2017 triumph.
Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old star upset the Mullins’ applecart last year defeating Vroum Vroum Mag. And the odds, and formbook, suggest another similar result in this renewal.
Despite mostly racing in Ireland, she’s got that Cheltenham win under her belt already. She’s got four wins from four since that big Prestbury Park victory last year and could hose up easily again in a few weeks.
Another Henderson short-price favourite is Altior going in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. And the Coral News Team are right behind the Irish-bred eight-year-old.
He made his seasonal debut back in February at Newbury and blew away Politologue in the Game Spirit Chase, winning by 4L.
That set a marker for this year’s Champion Chase renewal. He’ll go up against the Mullins horses of Min and Douvan, who haven’t had great seasons. Plus he’s already blitzed another contender in Politologue.
The Supreme Novices’ opens up the Festival as usual. And this year’s renewal looks very interesting when you delve into it.
Willie Mullins’ Getabird is the hot favourite but there are definite question marks over his favouritism.
The six-year-old has admittedly looked superb twice at Punchestown. But he’s not crossed the Irish Sea yet, never mind raced at Cheltenham.
Kalashnikov and Summerville Boy will be hugely dangerous here.
Un De Sceaux
There’s little doubt that Un De Sceaux deserves his spot at the top of the betting in the Ryanair Hurdle. Willie Mullins’ charge is the defending champion and has won comfortably on both outings this season.
But at 10-years-old now, could Un De Sceaux be vulnerable? He’ll be up against two younger, hungry raiders in Waiting Patiently and Top Notch.
Both have been superb this season with Waiting Patiently, in particular, winning the recent Ascot Chase. UDS could have his hands full in this renewal.
Not as short-priced at the head of the betting as one would like, but still very much questionable.
Patrick Kelly’s seven-year-old is a winner of the Pertemps Hurdle last year and has had a good season to date. But there are significant dangers in the field in Monalee and Black Corton.
The latter in particular – under Bryony Frost – has been in stellar form in recent months. Plus Monalee has form at Cheltenham, coming second to Penhill in last year’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
All three look in fine fettle. This could be a hugely-competitive renewal.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing