The Races Shaping Up to Be the Most Exciting at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

Tipsters Review - 28-Feb-2019


The Races Shaping Up to Be the Most Exciting at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival



"Buveur D’Air has it all to do to win a third Champion Hurdle" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

The Cheltenham Festival - the best four days of the National Hunt season - will soon be upon us.

Some of this year's main events at the meeting look more exciting than ever. Championship races naturally instil competition, so let's look at which contests, in particular, look very lively.

Champion Hurdle

The Champion Hurdle looks a tough race to predict this year but that's where expert tipsters come in with Cheltenham Festival tips on all events throughout the meeting, however tricky. Buveur D'Air has won the race in each of the last couple of seasons and remains the 15/8 favourite, but now faces the unusual prospect of giving weight to a few key rivals, the 2/1 Apple's Jade and 7/2 Laurina.

A championship race is supposed to be off level weights but, in a bid to encourage more mares to take on geldings, they receive a 7lb sex allowance. The only problem for Buveur D'Air is that those two main market rivals - Irish raiders Apple's Jade and Laurina - are female.

Nicky Henderson's top-rated BHA hurdler has also fallen foul of the sex allowance earlier in the season. Stable companion Verdana Blue just touched him off a short-head causing a major upset in the Christmas Hurdleat Kempton.

Given Laurina is unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins and Apple's Jade has beaten the boys over all distances for Gordon Elliott, Buveur D'Air is in for a major challenge as he bids for the Champion Hurdle hat-trick.

Ryanair Chase

Of all the championship races at the Cheltenham Festival, the Ryanair Chase over an intermediate trip of 2m 5f is the newest. That means it lacks the storied history of something like the Champion Hurdle but this year promises to be arguably the best renewal ever.

The key to this is Altior. Henderson's star two-mile chaser has never tasted defeatwhen jumping hurdles or fences and, after beating all-comers in his illustrious career over obstacles, the opposition is running scared. Many owners and trainers will instead take aim at the Ryanair.

"A race at Cheltenham" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

Mullins may keep Footpad and Min, who has won Grade 1 races in Ireland over both 2m and 2m 4f this season, separate. The latter has twice found Altior seven lengths too good for him at Cheltenham, so his Festival target could reflect that.

Another Irish raider Monalee was second over 3m in the RSA Chase at last year's meeting. Henry De Bromhead's charge has dropped back in trip this season and landed the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase in the Emerald Isle very easily, so that too suggests the Ryanair might be where he goes next.

Leading British contenders for the race, meanwhile, include Henderson's Top Notch and northern raider Waiting Patiently, who has missed the Festival in each of the last two seasons.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

You only have to glance at the Racing Post's Guide to Racing and see that Cheltenham is one of the top racecourses in the UK. This is because it hosts a race everyone involved with National Hunt horses wants to win; the Gold Cup.

The Festival's blue riband chase looks wide open this year. Presenting Percy, who landed the RSA 12 months ago, has been the long-time ante-post market leader but others in Ireland and the UK have pressed their claims.

Clan Des Obeaux won the King George at Kempton for Paul Nicholls over Christmas and has since followed-up in the Denman Chase. Native River was the epitome of brave when winning the Gold Cup from the front last year and can't be ignored, especially if the ground turns up soft.

Mullins launches a four-pronged attack as he tries to end his hoodoo of never winning the big one at Cheltenham. Al Boum Photo, Bellshill, Invitation Only and Kemboy all have chances. Others will fancy their chances too.



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