With the Cheltenham Trials and the Irish Champion Hurdle now behind us we run through some of the trainers, jockeys and horses that should be profitable to follow during the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
Nicky Henderson: Although recent years have seen Willie Mullins head the ‘Top Trainer’ table at the Festival, Nicky Henderson is the top Cheltenham Festival winning trainer still racing horses with 55 winners in a long and illustrious career. He heads into this year’s festival with one of the bankers of the meeting in Altior (Arkle Chase) and his Juveniles (Charli Parcs) will also have strong chances. Throw in Yanworth, Brain Power & Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle – Whisper in the JLT along Josses Hill in the Ryanair and 2017 could see Henderson revisit the halcyon days of numerous Festival winners.
Willie Mullins: The Master of Closutton has proved the Master of Prestbury Park since 2013 and will again be hot favourite to top the table after the four days of this year’s Festival. Names like Melon, Min, Faugheen, Vroum Vroum Mag, Un De Sceaux, Yorkhill & Douvan will have punters salivating. But the back-up brigade is no less fearsome – Bellshill, Limini, Getabird, Shaneshill, Airlie Beach & Djakadam all bolster a massive battalion heading across the water.
Barry Geraghty: Ruby Walsh will again be hot favourite to take home the ‘Top Jockey’ award but Barry Geraghty might well be the best bet this year as he has a host of JP McManus hot-pots to ride. McManus has had a stellar year, both in Ireland and in the UK, and goes into the Cheltenham Festival with one of his strongest-ever line ups.
David Mullins: Burst into prominence when riding Nichols Canyon to inflict Faugheen’s 1st-ever defeat in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown and followed up by riding Rule The World in the most valuable race of the jumps calendar, the 2016 Grand National at only his first attempt. He has quickly established himself as one of the most polished riders of his generation and will have a host of rides for Gigginstown, Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins. Set to make a big splash – he’s a name that we’re going to be hearing about for many years to come.
Brain Power: The Champion Hurdle looks wide open this year with Annie Power already ruled out and Faugheen not having been seen on a racecourse since winning the Irish Version in 2016. With such a wide open look it may pay to side with a horse that has improved massively this year – that horse is Brain Power. Well beaten on his reappearance, he turned out again three weeks later to take a listed hurdle at Sandown very easily. He followed that up by destroying a high-class field in the Grade 3 Wessex Hurdle at Ascot (under David Mullins) and looks ready to step up again into Grade 1 company.
Don Poli: The aura of invincibility around Thistlecrack dissipated somewhat when he was seemingly outstayed by Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham but he still remains the most likely winner. One horse that could be massively overpriced (currently around 25/1) however is Don Poli in the Gold Cup. Few will forget how he forged up the famous hill under Mikey Fogarty to win the Martin Pipe in 2014. He followed up the very next year when dismantling the RSA field – again back at the Festival. He finished third behind Don Cossack in last year’s renewal and seems to have been revitalised with a switch from Willie Mullins to Gordon Elliot. If he wins next week’s Irish Gold Cup (for which he’s currently favourite) then that 25/1 will be slashed to single figures. For a horse that relishes the distance, and absolutely relishes the hill, I dare say there are far worse investments to be made in the coming weeks.
Every year Tote sees some huge Cheltenham payouts both on our multi-leg pools and straight Win bets. Tote offers particularly good value when backing something with a longer price. So, be sure to visit thetote.com when placing your Cheltenham Festival bets.