The Cheltenham Festival is well-known for its upsets, with outsiders often finishing ahead of the favourites year after year. As a result, it can often be worthwhile for betting customers to back runners with bigger prices, with the potential rewards being significant. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the horses who could well catch the eye during the four-day Festival this year.
Tuesday 12th March: Champion Day
Willie Mullins’ Pravalaguna is offered odds of around 16/1 with the majority of bookmakers ahead of the JLT Novices’ Chase taking place on the day 1 of the Festival, however the seven-year-old comes into the race off the back of two consecutive wins. Wins at both Limerick and Naas either side of the new year demonstrate the potential of the mare who pulled up before the last in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham just 12 months ago.
Despite having failed to live up to the hype over hurdles, Pravalaguna has looked a different beast this season, with her win in the Listed Opera Mat Mares Chase at Naas being hugely impressive, with the youngster winning by 14 lengths from Baie Des Lles. With a 7lb mares’ allowance for the JLT Novices’ Chase, Pravalaguna is potentially well worth backing, with Lostintranslation and Defi Du Seuil being among the pre-race favourites. Her impressive jumping could well lead to a Pravalaguna being a threat this week, with her form leading up to the Festival suggesting that odds set by the bookies are a little high.
Elsewhere, Up For Review is well worth a look at in the Ultima Handicap Chase, with the 10-year-old having impressed for Willie Mullins upon his return at Gowran Park recently. With not many miles to his name following a 256-day break at the end of 2018, the advanced chaser could well be a threat on the opening day of the Festival, having been offered odds of just 8/1 in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse last year.
Wednesday 13th March: Ladies Day
Taking place on the Cheltenham day 2, The RSA Novices’ Chase is often a race where upsets are recorded, with seven-year-old Mortal certainly being one horse to keep an eye on. Having almost caused a huge upset in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown back in December, before a mistake at the final fence ultimately ended his chances, the Joseph O’Brien-trained horse could well be another outsider worth backing this week. Improving with each and every run, Mortal was one of the standout performers over the winter period, with the likes of Santini and Topofthegame potentially not having things all their own way on the second day of the Festival as a result.
Meanwhile, the majority of talk surrounding the Coral Cup has been around Uradel, however there is no clear challenger from the rest of the field. Willie Mullins’ Wicklow Brave won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham back in 2015, and despite not being the horse that he once was, the ten-year-olds experience on this course could prove to be a significant asset. Wicklow Brave finished second in the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas in January, having finished seventh in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last year.
Thursday 14th March: St’ Patrick’s Thursday
In the Stayers’ Hurdle, Petit Mouchoir is a name that many are talking about for trainer Henry De Bromhead. The eight-year-old finished ahead of Willie Mullins’ Melon in finishing third in the recent Irish Champion Hurdle, with the runner who finished third in last year’s Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase potentially being a horse who could keep up the theme of two milers stepping up in distance to great effect. Paisley Park is the firm favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle at present, however an off day for the Cheltenham Trials Day winner could well leave Petit Mouchoir with a chance.
Friday 15th March: Gold Cup Day
The day 4 of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival looks a bit more clear cut, however there are some outsiders worth keeping an eye on in the famous Gold Cup. The likes of Thistlecrack and Shattered Love will both be looking to upset favourites Native River and Presenting Percy. Thistlecrack has been somewhat forgotten following a serious injury, however the former Stayers’ Hurdle winner undoubtedly has what it takes to win again at Cheltenham.