Cheltenham Festival tips: Our 5 best ante-post bets
Tom Sutton will write daily tips throughout Cheltenham Festival. Here are his five early favourites, including his pick for Top Jockey.
CHAMPION HURDLE (Tuesday, 15:30)
I’m going to start with the Champion Hurdle, where I’m quite conviced one of the mares will beat Buveur D’Air . I’m going to take a big chance on LAURINA .
She’s a perfect six from six so far, annihilated the field in the Mares’ Novice here last year and collected her first Grade 1 at Fairyhouse last April.
An easy warm-up in a two-horse race at Sandown in January was followed by a tidy win in the Quevega Hurdle last month – six lengths to Stormy Ireland on the bridle.
We know she’s good, it’s just a question of how good. I think she’s a real contender here.
JLT NOVICE CHASE (Thursday, 13:30)
I’m a big fan of this race and I think KILDISART is a great price.
He is consistent over hurdles but has really stepped up since going chasing and was only narrowly beaten by Wenyerreadyfreddie at Ascot in November.
He has responded well by winning his last two, including a victory here in January.
His jumping has looked superb and he shouldn’t have any issues over 2m 3f. In what has been a tough year for Ben Pauling, I’m hoping he has another big Festival winner.
PERTEMPS HANDICAP HURDLE (Thursday, 14:10)
One good each-way bet in the handicaps now and I think Dr Richard Newland’s AARON LAD is a huge price.
His form from the past 12 months is excellent (211-PU611) and he has proven himself on both good and soft ground.
He has looked very impressive in particular in his last two wins, including a three-length victory in the Citipost Handicap Hurdle on this course in December – beating a field including the likes of Keeper Hill, Lygon Rock and Buywise.
He is proven over this distance and could potentially have Charlie Hammond’s claim to help the handicap so at this price, I think this is a solid each-way bet.
MARES NOVICE HURDLE (Thursday, 16:50)
I’m going for another each-way fancy next with POSH TRISH , who looks overpriced for an in-form Paul Nicholls.
The six-year-old has won six from a possible ten, including four from her previous five, with the only defeat coming against Lust For Glory at Newbury in November.
She destroyed the field at Wincanton on Boxing Day in a routine victory and followed up with a solid win at Taunton over Indefatigable and Oscar Rose.
There are no issues with stamina or her jumping, so I think she’s decent value here.
The final bet is the same as last year’s, but I think JACK KENNEDY will come out as top jockey.
Gordon Elliot looks destined to be top trainer again and I think Kennedy could provide him with a bulk of winners.
Although he came up short on Apple’s Jade last year, he picked up big victories on Samcro, Veneer Of Charm, Shattered Love and Farclas over the week – three of which were not favourites.
There’s not many jockeys I rate more highly than this lad and, although he may be sharing Elliot’s winners with Davy Russell, I think he’ll be coming out on top.