Now that the big tin of Roses is almost empty and the decorations are starting to come down, it’s time to have a good look at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Seymour Biz runs the rule over all 28 races and looks for value in the future betting markets, giving you his stand out value Cheltenham 2019 ante-post tips.
A Happy and Prosperous New Year to everyone. As we move into 2019 it has dawned on me we are only 10 weeks from the Cheltenham Festival and the fog should now be lifting on various horses chances. We have had a few shocks with good things getting beat at very short prices over the Christmas period so let’s try and digest that information and look forward towards the big meeting. I have made a very short resume of each and every race over the four days and followed this up with a value bet on the ante-post market. All prices were available with Bet365, at the time of publication.
Top 3 Betting Sites For Horse Racing
TUESDAY – Day 1 Tips
Supreme Novices Hurdle
On Tuesday the first race on the card is always a tough nut to crack, but the facts are it is usually won by a really classy individual. Last years winner was Summerville Boy and he has gone on to good things. Previous winners include Altior and Douvan and while I’m not sure there’s anything of that class there are still some exciting entries. Relegate won the bumper here last year, Danny Kirwan looks good and is one of my TenTo Follow but I was impressed with Mister Fisher when he won at Kempton on Boxing Day, so he is the selection.
MISTER FISHER 14/1
This two mile Novices Chase is for me one of the highlights of the meeting, young horses slugging it out up the Cheltenham hill. Last year it was Footpad who claimed the honours, but in recent years both Altior and Douvan have won this. Samcro is supposed to be the next best thing to come from Ireland but he has blotted his copybook recently. I am not sure about Lalor who blows hot and cold, but you couldn’t fail to be impressed by the way Dynamite Dollars held off the challenge of the highly rated Kalashnikov.
DYNAMITE DOLLARS. 6/1
Ultima Festival Trophy
Cepage, Cogry and Dingo Dollar are all fancied for this Grade 3 contest over three miles. But last year’s winner, Coo Star Sivola, looks like he has a very good chance. He had a run at Cheltenham in December but after making a mistake at the unlucky 13th he was not given a hard race and finished seventh. He can take this contest at a big price.
COO STAR SIVOLA. 33/1
The Blue Riband of hurdling is one of the highlights of the festival and this year all eyes will be on Buveur D’Air as he goes for a hat-trick in this contest. But he fluffed his lines at Kempton on Boxing Day going down to Verdana Blue. I am sure Nicky Henderson’s team will be working with him to get him back to winning ways. There are plenty of good horses waiting in the wings ready to take his crown including Min, Samcro, Laurina and youngster Summerville Boy. But all these challengers have had problems in their build up and a case can be made against each and everyone. Verdana Blue has proved himself and can continue his winning ways.
VERDANA BLUE. 8/1
Apples Jade is a ridiculously short price for this two and a half mile contest even though she won it last year. Laurina is her nearest challenger in the betting but Willie Mullins’s charge needs soft ground and has not been seen since winning at Fairyhouse in April. Finding value in the race is difficult but I like the look of Augusta Kate, another Mullins horse who has been waiting for softer going, if she gets the ground she requires she can go well at a nice price.
AUGUSTA KATE. 20/1
National Hunt Chase
This is a gruelling four mile Grade 2 chase for novices. It was won by Tiger Roll back in 2017, so we are looking at potential Grand National horses. Santini was the bookmakers choice but he let himself down on Boxing Day at Kempton finishing only third. Ok Corral and Chef Des Obeaux are also entered but I like the look of The World’s End, he looks a big strong animal who is well suited to this marathon.
THE WORLD’S END. 16/1
Centenary Novices Handicap Chase
A two and a half mile contest that is now sponsored by Close Brothers was won last year by Mister Whitaker. This year’s list of entries includes Us And Then and Glen Forsa, but the stand-out horse for me for value is Jenkins. Nicky Henderson’s charge was speedy over hurdles and he has run at Cheltenham to get a look at the fences, he is my idea of the winner.
WEDNESDAY – Day 2 Tips
Ballymore Novices Hurdle
This was won last year by Samcro and is always targeted by Irish trainers, but this year’s favourite is under the stewardship of Nicky Henderson, simply called Champ. He is favourite on the back of a win at Newbury in December, his only run this season. Sir Erec is also fancied but he will probably go for the Triumph. Olly Murphy has a lively contender in Brewin’Upastorm who won well on his return to action in December at Huntingdon.
This three and a half mile novice chase is one of the highlights of the day, it was won by Might Bite in 2017 and Presenting Percy last year. Nicky Henderson’s Santini heads the betting, but he came unstuck at Kempton on Boxing Day finishing only third in a race won by La Baguette Au Roi. Second that day was Topofthegame and I think he can reverse places with the winner here. But that may not be enough, Black Op is waiting in the wings and if he gets the going he wants he can take this.
BLACK OP 16/1
This Grade 3 handicap chase always cuts up very badly and you can never be sure which horses trainers will throw at it. Looking at the betting now, the one with a decent chance looks to be The Storyteller. Gordon Elliot’s charge won well at Punchestown last April, but has not done so well since. His defeat at Leopardstown he over Christmas was particularly disappointing, maybe he can bounce back.
THE STORYTELLER. 20/1
The Champion Chase
What can you say, last year’s winner, Altior, has done absolutely nothing wrong this year and is odds-on to take this. He really is a superstar and his name will go down in the annals of horseracing history. If you want to look at a decent priced outsider to back each-way, try Simply Ned, from Nicky Richards’s stable. He beat Footpad at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting and has beaten Min in the past so may be worth a bet at 16/1.
Cross Country Chase
This is the race when I head to the bar, I really have no interest in it whatsoever. But as the bookies price it up I will look at the contenders. It was won last year by Grand National hero Tiger Roll, he is a short priced favourite for this year’s contest. The race used to be a handicap but is now a conditions race and that will suit 2017 winner Josie’s Orders. Ucello Conti is interesting but has not been seen since unseating his rider in last year’s Grand National.
JOSIE’S ORDERS. 10/1
Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
A very difficult race to judge as trainers are assessing their horses chances whether to go for this handicap or take their chances in the Triumph Hurdle. Paul Nicholls has plenty to choose from and the favourite for this contest comes from his yard, Quel Destin, who has won his last four including a fine win at Chepstow over Christmas. But will he now go for the Triumph, who knows? Alan King has Elysees aimed at this but he was beaten by Quel Destin at Doncaster in December. I like the look of Fabianski trained by Rebecca Menzies, he has won his last two in Yorkshire and would be a popular winner for the north.
This Grade 1 two mile NH flat race was won last year by Relegate and Willie Mullins will be targeting it again this year, but Gordon Elliot seems to have the drop on him with two fine horses in Envoi Allen and Fury Road. But I am looking at a UK victory here with Alan King’s The Glancing Queen. The filly was a course and distance winner in November before going down narrowly at Ascot the following month on ground that didn’t really suit.
THE GLANCING QUEEN. 16/1
THURSDAY – Day 3 Tips
JLT Novices Chase
This is a race won by Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliot over the last four years and they will both have strong hands for this year’s contest. Several horses are double declared and Samcro is a possibility here but he hasn’t won this season and flopped badly last time at Leopardstown. La Bague Au Roi is a contender and was a terrific winner at Kempton on Boxing Day, he has a great chance if Warren Greatrex aims him at this. But one horse I think will be aimed here is Defi Du Seuil. Phillip Hobbs has bounced back after last seasons problems and can take this with him.
DEFI DU SEUIL. 8/1
Pertemps Networks Final Handicap Hurdle
This is a Grade 3 three mile handicap hurdle which has eight qualifying races held at various courses. The jockey Davy Russell has ridden the last three winners. This year’s renewal has some interesting contenders including last year’s second from Gordon Elliot’s yard, Glenloe, who was so narrowly denied. Cuneo looks in good form for Henry De Bromhead after his win at Leopardstown over Christmas. But I like the look of Theclockisticking from Stuart Edmunds’s yard, he has recently won at Fakenham and ran well here in October behind The Miighty Don, he can improve on that performance.
One of the most prestigious races at the festival and is always targeted by the top trainers. There is a school of thought that Altior could run here as a stepping stone to a Gold Cup tilt next year. But the way Henderson is talking that won’t be till 2020. Waiting Patiently has had a perfect year winning six races, but he was unfortunately hampered in the King George and unseated his rider. He deserves to win a big race. Politologue was disappointing that day and Thistlecrack always seem to find one too good now. Min has been beaten over in Ireland, and no longer looks a contender. Ruth Jefferson says she will take her time before making plans for Waiting Patiently, I think the Ryanair will be his target.
WAITING PATIENTLY. 6/1
Apples Jade is the current favourite for this with last year’s winner Penhill as second favourite, but these two represent no value for this three mile contest. Champ who won the Challow Hurdle in December has pushed himself into contention. But the horse I like the look of for this race is Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park who has won all three of his contests this season . He won at Aintree in October, went on to to win the Stayers Handicap at Haydock and followed that up with the Long Walk at Ascot. He is an improving individual who is capable of winning this.
PAISLEY PARK 10/1
Brown Advisory Plate
This is a 2 miles 5 furlongs handicap chase that used to be called the Mildmay of Flete. It is a race that always cuts up very badly with lots of runners declared that usually have preferences elsewhere. There is one interesting individual that seems to stand it and that is Tom George’s Activial. He has not been out of the first two this year, he won by 16 lengths at Haydock in November and only went down by a short head at Ascot just before Christmas, he looks just the type for this.
Mares Novice Hurdle
Willie Mullins is aiming Relegate at this contest and I have no hesitation in nominating her for it. She won the Bumper last year here in some style and appears to have trained on. She will be up up against some very smart fillies who are also declared for this and the include the successful Posh Trish, Honeysuckle and Lust For Glory, but I take Mullin’s charge to scoop the honours.
The Kim Muir Challenge Cup
This is a 3 mile 2 furlongs handicap chase for amateur riders and the 19 fences can prove quite a challenge. Mall Dini has won around Cheltenham so is high in the betting along with Sky Pirate and Marinero. But The Young Master from Neil Mulholland’s yard looks a stand-out contender to me. He does need good going and has won two from three this season, pulling up on his other start on soft. He usually has top amateur Mr S Waley-Cohen on his back giving him a great advantage in a race of this nature.
THE YOUNG MASTER. 12/1
FRIDAY – Day 4 Tips
This is the major race for 4-year-olds and many trainers will have had their eye on it since the start of the season. It is a Grade 1 Hurdle run over 2 miles 1 furlong and this year’s favourite looks to be Quel Destin. He is trained by Paul Nicholls and has won his last four races, the latest at the Christmas meeting at Chepstow. Second to him that day was Nicky Henderson’s Adjali who went down by a neck, I fancy him to reverse that result in this race. The Irish challenge is headed by Sir Erec who won at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting beating another Irish contender Tiger Tap Tap, who is trained b a Willie Mullins. I think the runner up will improve for that run but I’ll stick with Henderson’s charge.
This is a Grade 3 handiap over 2 miles 1 furlong , it is always a very open race and looking at this year’s betting 2019 will be no exception. However one of my Ten To Follow Hurdlers is in the mix and that is the Spanish bred Nube Negra. He was third in the Fred Winter here last year and that experience should stand him in good stead. Others worth a mention are Espoir D’allen, one time favourite for last year’s Triumph and Silver Streak from Evan Williams’s yard.
NUBE NEGRA. 25/1
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
This is a Grade 1 three mile race which is always considered a very prestigious contest. Gordon Elliot has high hopes with Commander Of Fleet, this gelding won his first three races but then tailed in last of four in December at Fairyhouse. Willie Mullins has Tornado Flyer entered, he was third in last year’s bumper and has come on well for that with two victories at Punchestown. The last one was in December when he came home comfortably in a field of 18. But the one I like is the aptly named Champ. Trainer Nicky Henderson should aim him at this after his win in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury in December.
The Gold Cup
One of the most intriguing renewals of the blue riband contest for many a year. Can Nicky Henderson get Might Bite back to his winning ways? He has been really disappointing in his efforts this year. Clan Des Obeaux has burst onto the scene with his win in the King George, can he carry on the good work? Trainer Paul Nicholls thinks so but he has never won at Cheltenham in four attempts. The main Irish challenger is the Willie Mullins trained Kemboy after his two fine recent wins but he flopped in the JLT here last year. Presenting Percy is near the top of the betting but he hasn’t run since winning the RSA at last year’s festival. So we come to last year’s hero, Native River, trainer Colin Tizzard is reportedly very happy with his preparation. His third in the King George was put down to him jumping slightly left on the right handed track, he will be better round here.
NATIVE RIVER. 9/2
The Foxhunters Chase
This is the Gold Cup for amateur riders, it is run over the same course and distance as the big race. The winner on the last two occasions has been Pacha Du Polder but he is now a 12-year-old and it’s a big ask for him to come out and do it again. Gilgamboa is the current favourite and he brings some good form from last season but he has not run since last February. The Last Samurai has moved to Harry Fry’s yard and he is aiming him at this, he rallied well at Ascot last time to keep him on track for this contest.
THE LAST SAMURAI. 16/1
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
This is a race that can cut up badly. Pym is a declared runner from Nicky Henderson’s yard, he has fine form this year with a win and two seconds, one of which was here at Cheltenham. Olly Murphy is having a fine season and he has Brewin’Upastorm in the lineup. He won well at Huntingdon in early December and was then highly tried at Newbury finishing a close fourth behind Champ. He is one of my Ten Novices To Follow and he is taken to win this renewal.
Grand Annual Chase
The final race of the four day festival meeting is always difficult to predict and there have been some big priced winners over the years. It is a Grade 3 two and a half mile handicap and Enda Bolger’s Ballyoisin is one of the current favourites. A run of four wins came to a halt at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting where he finished a disappointing fifth. I prefer one of Harry Fry’s team, Hells Kitchen, who won well at Ascot last time. He raced prominently that day and was out on his own 3 out eventually winning by just over two lengths. He could be the answer here.
HELLS KITCHEN. 16/1