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Racing News
Thursday 25th January 2018
Who Are This Year’s Favourites at Cheltenham?

Cheltenham is coming, and racing fans, gamblers and the world at large just can’t wait. The first major race meeting of the season, it is a sure sign that spring is in the air. Punters have been flocking to the check out the odds for all 28 races and are counting down the days.

Golden memories

To most race rans, Cheltenham means one thing and that’s the Gold Cup. Memories of Arkle, the most famous winner of them all, beating all comers time and again throughout the 1960s. Forty years later and Best Mate carved his name into the pages of Cheltenham history, winning three years in succession before his tragic death in 2005. But the experts favourites according to top tipsters at are not necessarily the most famous horses running in the biggest races. Those in the know look beyond the showcase races to find the most tempting wagers. Where is the smart money being placed at this year’s festival?

© Caroline Norris

A flying start

Don’t make the mistake of thinking all the action is at the end of the week. The serious punters get in early, and where better to start than with the Supreme Novices Hurdle, the first race on the first day? Getabird is the early favourite, having won at Punchestown on 13 January, but don’t rule out If The Cap Fits – the horse has won its last three races and at 10/1 it’s more than tempting.

Remember Arkle

The Arkle Chase is steeped in history and is another race that casual spectators barely notice, but professional punters will home in on to make a killing. The bookmakers might have Footpad as favourite, but the tipsters only have eyes for Sceau Royal. He blew away some top quality opposition at Sandown in December to romp home at 11/1. Jockey Daryl Jacob told ITV Racing: “"This lad was awesome today, he pinged his fences. I got there too soon and had to take a pull, he loved it.” He could easily pull off a similar feat at Cheltenham, and the bookmakers are starting to take notice.

L’Ami Serge
© Racehorse Photos
L’Ami Serge

Staying power

Ladies Day on Wednesday might be more style than substance, but the focus will be firmly back on the action for St Patrick’s Day, and this is one time all eyes will be on the showcase race, the Stayers Hurdle. At this early stage, you could do far worse than Nicky Henderson’s L’Ami Serge. Henderson has a happy habit of producing winners at Cheltenham, and the 10/1 odds are just too good to refuse.

The main event

And so to the Gold Cup itself. Everyone is talking up the battle between last year’s winner, Sizing John, and bookie’s favourite Might Bite, another from the Henderson stable. But as the day draws closer, be prepared to hear the name Coney Island mentioned more and more. This is the definitive dark horse, appearing from nowhere after a long spell of injury to win convincingly at Leopardstown over Christmas. Odds are shortening by the day, so catch them while you can.