|Wednesday 20th February 2019|
In the Formbook: Which Horses are Hitting Their Stride Ahead of the Cheltenham Festival 2019?
With the Cheltenham Festival just a few weeks away, now is the time that punters start to take things a little more seriously.
Pens are chewed as the form book is studied and the shortlist of potential winners is drawn up based on results and that intangible ‘hunch’ that so often governs the race game.
If you need some assistance as far as the recent form guide is concerned, here are five horses that have enjoyed stellar 2019 campaigns so far.
The re-arranged Kingmaker Novices’ Chase took place at Sandown Park on February 15, and just three runners took to the starting line.
The betting market favoured Kalashnikov, who was a red-hot 1/4 favourite but, in the end, it was Glen Forsa who set tongues wagging with a dominant display, winning by some 19 lengths in the 15f affair.
Source: Racing Post via Twitter
Mick Channon’s seven-year-old has now won three on the spin, and heads to the Festival with entries in two races: the Arkle and the JLT Novices’ Chase.
It is the former which Glen Forsa is expected to start in, and his odds have been slashed from 40/1 to 10/1 to triumph in the Grade 1 showpiece.
In the ultra-competitive Ascot Chase renewal on February 16, most were expecting the favourite Waiting Patiently to do battle with Politologue for the Grade 1 honours.
But instead, it was the French horse Cyrname that blew the competition out of the water.
In his previous run in 2019, the seven-year-old had put on a classy display in a handicap outing at Ascot – his first outing over an extended 21f trip – and so punters perhaps shouldn’t have been surprised that he left his more established rivals trailing in his wake.
The 17-length margin of victory did not flatter Paul Nicholls’ horse, and it’s little wonder the market has reacted by making him the 4/1 ante-post favourite for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Clan Des Obeaux
When Clan Des Obeaux won the King George Chase back on Boxing Day, it was the first time he had really performed in Grade 1 company.
A 12/1 shot that day, the seven-year-old was significantly shorter odds for his Cheltenham Festival warm-up race: the rescheduled Denman Chase at Ascot.
Paul Nicholls’ horse produced another eye-catching display to win by eleven lengths from Terrefort, and it was a victory that confirmed that he belongs in top notch company.
Which, of course, he will have plenty of in the Gold Cup at the Festival but, with doubts about the favourite, Presenting Percy, the 5/1 price of Clan Des Obeaux may just be the ideal vehicle for any free bets for Cheltenham 2019 that you can claim.
Defi Du Seuil
It was way back in 2017 that Defi Du Seuil won on his Cheltenham Festival debut in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
The most surprising thing was that his career meandered from then on but, at a still sprightly six-years-old, clearly, there is the potential for an upswing.
Source: Racing Post via Twitter
Perhaps that upward trajectory started earlier in February when, just prior to the equine flu outbreak, he won the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
The JP McManus horse just saw off the challenge of Lostintranslation by barely a length but it was enough to catapult him into the reckoning for the JLT Novices’ Chase, for which he is now a 4/1 ante-post favourite.
The equine influenza epidemic had such potentially major repercussions for UK racing that it is easy to forget what occurred immediately prior to the lockdown.
But punters will hopefully have put a tick in their little black books next to the name of Apple’s Jade, who produced yet another exceptional performance to defy the boys in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
The likes of Supasundae and Melon had no answer to her turn of pace, and now the Gigginstown network is in the enviable position of choosing where to point her at the Cheltenham Festival.
Will she be aimed at another victory in the Mares’ Hurdle or is the Champion Hurdle her likely destination? Either way, in this form, punters are almost guaranteed a strong run for their money.