2018 Cheltenham Predictions
The 2018 Cheltenham Festival gets underway on March 13th and is one of the standout sporting events on the calendar. It is the pinnacle of National Hunt racing and a number of sport’s stars gather in Gloucestershire for four days of outstanding turf action. We take a look at each of the 28 races taking place at Prestbury Park and offer our predictions in each contest.
2018 Cheltenham Betting Top Bookies
Day 1 Cheltenham Predictions
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The Festival’s first race is the Supreme Novice’s Hurdle and the start always provokes a huge roar from the pack-out grandstand. Labaik was a 25/1 winner in last year’s event but there are a number of shorter-price fancies in this year’s renewal. Getabird is the 13/8 favourite with 888Sport and will be aiming to help Willie Mullins get off to the perfect start. Kalashnikov is well-fancied and has been a huge market-mover in the run-up to the event. He is now 5/1 with Net Bet and the previous course form makes it one of the better picks in this race.
There have been a number of short-price winners in this event over the past couple of years with Altior dominating in 2017. Footpad looks the horse to beat in this year’s renewal with jockey Paul Hanagan praising his ride saying “he jumps like a stag” and at a price of 11/8 with Bet365. Footpad’s ability has never been in doubt and as one of the most exciting prospect at this year’s festival, many punters will be looking to add the Irish charge to their accumulators. Petit Mouchoir has already been defeated by the favourite and is unlikely to turn the tables here.
Ultima Handicap Chase
One of the longer trips on the opening day takes place on the old course at Cheltenham. The Ultima Handicap Chase is a slog but there are a number of renowned stayers in the field. Coo Star Sivola is the early favourite in this race but it looks an open contest and singlefarmpayment at 10/1 with Ladbrokes looks a reliable sort who will stay the trip. Gold Present hasn’t been seen since December 23rd but stayed three miles nicely to win at Ascot and could be a real contender at 9/1 with 10Bet.
One of the standout races of the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle and it’s set to be another hugely entertaining two miles. Buveur D’Air is one of the most talked about horses this year and is the current 4/9 favourite with William Hill. Nicky Henderson’s charge is ahead of Faugheen and stablemate My Tent or Yours in the betting and it’s going to take something special to upset this odds-on favourite. Buveur D’Air is unbeaten since Cheltenham 2016 and it’s hard to see anything ending that run in this Grade 1 event.
The fifth race on the card sees Apples Jade aim to defend her crown in the Mares Hurdle. She’s won each of her last five races including a success at Leopardstown in the Christmas Hurdle and it’s difficult to see anything stopping here. Vroum Vroum Mag hasn’t had the best couple of years but does have enough star quality to lay down a challenge here and is available at 11/2 with 10Bet.
National Hunt Chase
This is a true test of stamina and stayers are required for this four-miler. Jury Duty is the 7/1 favourite with Sporting Bet but the Gordon Elliott trained charge has only been competing over the shorter distances of late. Elegant Escape could provide a decent alternative at 8/1 with the Tizzard mount running in better quality fields than this. The Cheltenham course is unique and offers plenty of quirks so looking for a horse with C&D form is the best way of approaching this contest.
(Close Brothers) Novices Handicap Chase
The Irish have strong representation in this final race of day one with De Potting Shed the early favourite in the market at 5/1 with William Hill and Ladbrokes. The eight-year old has been entered into the Ultima Handicap but is fancied to run in this race and stands a great chance of justifying favouritism. At a much bigger price, Patrick’s Park has plenty of potential for the Willie Mullins yard and although lacking in experience, it appears to have plenty of class and could surprise at 20/1 with Bet365.
Day 2 Cheltenham Predictions
Ballymore Novices Hurdle
Day two’s Cheltenham Predictions begin with a competitive looking Ballymore. Samcro is entered into this race but could be competing on day 1 of the festival and therefore it’s best to look elsewhere. On the Blind Side looks an interesting prospect at 11/2 with bwin. The Henderson yard come to the festival with a strong hand and this race appears to be winnable. An impressive victory in the Winter Novices’ Hurdle certainly puts this one in with the best chance of success.
Presenting Percy is being talked about as one of the bankers of the festival and was far from disgraced when finishing behind Our Duke in the Red Mills Chase In February. He lines up against Monalee once again and it is set to be a fascinating battle at the top of the market. The favourite can be backed at 5/2 with 10Bet but it could pay to side with the second favourite who should have sufficiently recovered from a fall when this pair last met. Al Boum Photo is a consistent sort but might just fall short and looks good for an each-way punt.
William Henry starts as the favourite in this event but has crept up the weights and may be vulnerable here. Bleu et Rouge is also likely to be popular and is available at a standout price of 14/1 with William Hill. Duc des Genievres is a reasonably unknown quantity from the Mullins yard but looks competent when finish second to Samcro at Leopardstown and could spring a surprise in this contest at a nice price of 16/1 with Sporting Bet.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the standout race on the second day with a suitably strong field potentially containing Douvan, Altior and Min. Special Tiara was a surprise winner at the festival last year and is back in the line-up here at 16/1 with William Hill. It’s Altior’s race to lose however and the previous festival form should be key to the 8/11 shot’s chances here. Min is a quality horse who will provide plenty of competition whilst Douvan will need to blow off the cobwebs and is being backed in the market. A possible outside challenge comes from Great Field, who has been struggling for fitness but oozes quality and could be a great each-way challenge at 16/1 with Bet365.
Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase
Another race for the stayers takes place on the second day with the Cross Country always a decent betting heat, particularly for those who like bigger prices. Cause of Causes is a regular around here and is the early 11/4 favourite with 10 Bet but could be susceptible to a potential improver. Last Samurai has proven distance form and could also feature in the Grand National this year. Tiger Roll is interesting as the second favourite at 6/1 and the Gordon Elliott trained horse is a previous winner around here and should be difficult to stop.
Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle
A crowded market gives each-way punters the chance to pick out a runner at bigger odds and there are plenty to choose from! Paul Nicholl’s has a strong record in the race and sends Malaya here, who is a big price at 16/1 with Net Bet. The favourite Act of Valour looks like a potential improver but at 9/1 could be too short for many in this competitive event. Mitchouka is French-bred and that always bodes well for this contest. Trained by Gordon Elliott, this Gigginstown-owned horse is aiming to make it three from three and is our Cheltenham Prediction in the Fred Winter.
The final race of the second day is the Champion Bumper with Blackbow the 5/1 favourite with 888Sport. Willie Mullins usually fares well in this race and this market leader looks strong. He battled well during a recent defeat and this should be much easier. Mullins looks set to have six other runners in the field but Blackbow is the one who is likely to catch the eye here. Acey Milan has quality and could provide a decent alternative at 9/1.
Day 3 Cheltenham Predictions
JLT Novices’ Chase
Day Three gets underway with a Grade 1 event with a number of familiar names in the betting. Monalee and Invitation Only are both entered into events on the previous couple of days and may not feature here. Finians Oscar is a familiar name to National Hunt followers but didn’t justify favouritism in a recent Grade 2 event at Ascot and could be best overlooked. The Nicky Henderson trained Terrefort is three from eight over the larger obstacles but has been victorious in its last two outings and could carry that confidence into this race. He’s available at 8/1 with Sporting Bet.
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
Glencoe has been installed as the favourite for the Pertemps and ran a decent third behind Presenting Percy earlier this year. He should be strong alongside the much-talked about Louis Vac Pouch who is 10/1 with Royal Panda. The Phillips Hobbs trained runner has a 50% record in hurdle races and is slowly creeping up the betting. Forza Milan is priced at 14/1 and could provide a decent each-way alternative to the leading fancies and is lightly raced.
Ryan Air Chase
Un Des Sceaux has made a decent start to the season and was excellent in the Clarence House. The experience runner looks set to start as the 2018 Ryan Air favourite and will certainly attract a number of bets from punters. If Min hasn’t run of day two, we could see him feature here but our vote goes to Wait Patiently who won the Ascot Chase and looked very game. Coming from off-the-pace is the tactic which is likely to be employed once again and a clear run could see this one go close at 7/2.
This looks an extremely intriguing battle between Supasundae, Yanworth and Sam Spinner. The former has been one of the most talked about contenders at the festival and Jessica Harrington always likes to target these kind of races. She has a number of terrific stayers and Supasundae is one of them. Yanworth is switched back to hurdling which is a curious move but should run a typically powerful race. Unowhatimeanharry is always willing to give his all and absolutely cannot be ruled out at an each-way price. 12/1 with William Hill is a fair enough price for us.
Brown Advisory Plate
This Grade 1 looks a competitive affair and there are a number of Irish raiders taking to the field. Cheltenham Festival regulars will be familiar with Tully East who leads the betting at 8/1 with 10 Bet. Unfortunately the market leader has looked a little off-colour recently and it’s better to look elsewhere. Last Goodbye is 12/1 with Sporting Bet and has been in superb form this season and seems like a sensible choice in this field. He has the added advantage of having previous festival experience.
Mares Novice Hurdle
Favourite Laurina arrives with a superb reputation and the reports from the Mullins’ yard have been hugely favourable. The market leader is odds-on and can be backed at around 4/5. She won a Grade 3 recently and can only improve for that outing. Salsaretta and Cap Soleil are both likely to figure prominently and will be popular each-way selections in this race. The latter is marginally preferred considering she runs well fresh.
Kim Muir Challenge Cup
This Class 2 event looks to be a battle at the head of the market between Mall Dini and Squouateur who are both around 6/1 in the betting. The latter disappointed at the festival last year and despite always arriving with a big reputation, rarely gets the job done. Mall Dini is preferred as the 2016 Pertemps winner has been a touch unlucky in recent outings and can make amends for those incidents with a convincing win in the closer on day three.
Day 4 Cheltenham Predictions
JCB Triumph Hurdle
Day Four gets underway with the Triumph Hurdle and one of the most talked about horses of the winter – Apples Shakira is likely to be in action. William Hill have priced the favourite up at 3/1 and she is likely to make all in this contest. She will relish the ground and has always fared well at this track. Farclas is another Irish representative who will be hoping to have a say on the outcome of this contest but it looks a tough ask to oust this popular market leader.
County Handicap Hurdle
Another suitably competitive field for the second race on Friday’s card and the pair of Max Dynamite and Hunters Call look difficult to separate at the top of the market. New trainer Olly Murphy sends the latter looking for his first festival win and it would provide the perfect narrative. At 8/1, it looks a decent shout. His fledgling yard have been in form recently and firing in winners at other tracks.
This could be a bit of a slog, particularly if the forecast throws up rain over the course of the week. The three mile contest is going to take some getting and there are a number of tried and tested competitors who are likely to figure. Poetic Rhythm looks bred for this trip and is likely to be involved at the finish. 16/1 looks a decent price for this runner who represents Fergal O’Brien and was seen winning a Grade 1 at Newbury.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
King George favourite Might Bite is the understandable favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but there is a commonly held belief that Nicky Henderson’s charge got lucky in that race. The market leader is a previous winner at the course and is going to be difficult to beat however last year’s winner Sizing John is aiming to retain his crown. Jessica Harrington’s charge has been disappointing this year but could bounce back in this prestigious contest at 6/1 with Ladbrokes. Our Duke is 8/1 and does appear to be improving with every single run and could be very interesting. Definitly Red hosed up in January at this track and could be worth siding with at a decent each-way price of 16/1.
Foxhunter Challenge Cup
The favourite for this contest is Burning Ambition who did well to run second to Gilgamboa but could be susceptible to a substantial improver in this competitive field. Virak and Wonderful Charm could provide a winner for Paul Nicholls who tends to enjoy this race and we’d marginally side with the latter who is 6/1 with William Hill and should be able to run a big race.
Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
Flawless Escape is seen by many as one of Gordon Elliott’s best hopes in this contest and is priced up as the favourite at 8/1 with 10 Bet. A number of outsiders could have a say in this contest and Dortmund Park looks a classy performer who could power past the favourite in this event. Melrose Boy for Harry Fry could also be extremely dangerous whilst Hunters Call at 14/1 is a tempting option too.
The final race of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival brings an end to our predictions. The Grand Annual is always an absorbing race and this year’s renewal looks to be equally as entertaining. Diego Du Charmil looks likely to be popular in the betting and has been backed in from 33/1 to 25/1. Thienval ruined his chances of landing the event 12 months ago at the final fence and a slicker performance is expected here. At 10/1 in the betting, this horse looks fully justified as the favourite.