With the prestigious Cheltenham Festival only three months away, horse racing fans begin the countdown to the most illustrious event in the National Hunt calendar.
As far as betting is concerned, punters will have been keeping a keen eye on the most impressive horses so far this season and an even closer eye on the main races over the next few months to see potential superstars for the 2014 festival.
Bet365 Cheltenham Festival Offers (NRNB)
Bet365 are NRNB for the 2014 Festival which means they are Non-Runner No Bet for the four Championship races at Cheltenham. If you find some valuable odds and decide back a horse now for one of those races, but the selected horse does not run, Bet365 will be returning all stakes which makes early betting very valuable.
Bet365 also offer Best Odds Guaranteed for the four Championship races, which are the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Champion Hurdle, the World Hurdle and the Gold Cup. If you bet on a horse and the starting price is better than your price, you will get the better odds.
The racing at the festival will all be streamed live through Bet365, with constant updates on prices to ensure that Bet365 offer the best price possible for all of the action. For all Channel 4 televised races, bets on winners that are odds of 4/1 and above will be rewarded with a free bet matching the winning stake from the previous bet.
Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)
The phenomenal Sprinter Sacre was surprisingly pulled up in the Desert Orchid Chase in December due to an irregular heartbeat. Nicky Henderson’s 14-time winner is still as short as 4/7 with William Hill for the race and it is no wonder, looking back at the way he surged clear in the race last year.
There are obviously question marks now as to whether Sacre has still got what it takes after suffering with illnesses, however there is no chaser like he; therefore it would be silly to back against.
Another name that is being mentioned for the race at this stage is quite rightly, Sire De Grugy. The eight-year-old has got better with age and won readily by four lengths once Spinter Sacre had been pulled up. The 4/1 odds that William Hill offer will be tempting for punters for the horse that also won the Tingle Creek early in December.
Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)
The Champion Hurdle is possibly the most intriguing race of the festival at this stage, following two recent races which included five of the favourites. The first was Hurricane Fly’s win over Jezki and Our Conor at Punchestown, where last year’s Champion Hurdle winner looked close to his best. The other, was the clash between My Tent Or Yours and The New One, which A P McCoy managed to win on the former after a couple of mistakes from the latter.
The New One is very fast though and has proved what a serious contender he is for the hurdle. I believe that if the race goes his way, he remains the one to beat. Twiston-Davies’ 5-year-old is currently 3/1 with most leading firms.
World Hurdle (Grade 1)
Big Bucks could make a superb return to the World Hurdle and win the race for a fifth time, albeit he can return to full fitness from the injury which saw him miss last season’s renewal of the race. In his absence, the 12-time-winner, Solwhit won the race in fine style, however he is now a doubt for the 2014 renewal.
Another who will need to improve to compete with the likes of Big Bucks is At Fishers Cross, who has had a nightmare start to the season. Paul Nicholls’ favourite is best price 5/2 with Ladbrokes, whilst At Fishers Cross is 10/1 and Reve De Sivola 14/1.
Gold Cup (Grade 1)
The Gold Cup is the most eagerly anticipated race of them all at the festival and this year’s version is already shaping up to be as competitive as ever. Last year’s winner BOBSWORTH is unbeaten at Cheltenham and as short as 2/1 to retain his crown after a fine win in the Lexus Chase in December.
Silviniaco Conti won the King George in style and has gone in to 3/1 second favourite now. Nicholls’ 8-year-old fell in last year’s Gold Cup; however can play a big part this time round. Cue Card, Al Ferof and Dynaste have all proven their ability; however this one looks as though it could be between the favoured two.
ANTEPOST BETS FOR THE 2014 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL:
2014 Gold Cup – BOBSWORTH – Ran superbly in the Lexus Chase and there is no better horse around Cheltenham. At odds of 9/4 with some firms, it could be well worth getting on early.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – KINGS PALACE – Won well at Cheltenham in December when cruising to a fourteen length victory under Tom Scudamore. David Pipe will be confident going into this, with most firms slashing his odds from 12/1 to 6/1. He still represents very good value for a horse who can improve further.
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