Five Tips for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

We are just weeks away from the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, the biggest meeting of the season in National Hunt racing. With the entries for each race now starting to become clear, here are the best tips if you are looking to have a bet across the week. 

Le Richebourg To Win Arkle Trophy 

Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien has a strong squad of horses set for the Cheltenham Festival this year but his best chance could come on the opening day of the meeting with Le Richebourg, who looks to be the one they all have to beat in the Arkle Trophy.

Le Richebourg first became an Arkle contender when he landed the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown. Earlier this month he built on that success to seal another Grade One race at the same track in comfortable fashion. 

Unlike the last few runnings of the novice chase contest over 2m, this year’s Arkle looks to have a more competitive look about it, with Le Richebourg topping the betting at 3/1. It could be a big meeting for Irish horses in the novice races as Battleoverdoyen has been tipped by Oddschecker to win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle where he is looking to follow in the footsteps of his stablemate Samcro who won the same race in 2018.

Apple’s Jade To win Champion Hurdle

Following her success in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, trainer Gordon Elliot has revealed news that the Champion Hurdle will now be Apple’s Jade most likely target at the Festival this year which sets up a mouth-watering clash against the defending champion Buveur D’Air. Apple’s Jade has shown fantastic versatility from 2m up to 3m but it could be the lower distance which suits her best. The mare produced a fantastic turn of foot to stretch away from a strong field in the closing stages of the Irish Champion Hurdle. 

The real advantage Apple’s Jade will have in the premier hurdle contest at the Festival is that she will receive a seven-pound advantage against the opposite sex. The weight allowance for mares worked in Annie Power’s favour when she won the race in 2016 and Elliot’s runner is more than good enough to take advantage of it to stop Buveur D’Air from completing a hat-trick of wins in the feature race on day one of the meeting. 

Defi Du Seuil To Win JLT Novices’ Chase 

Defi Du Seuil was triumphant at the Festival in 2018 and he could be set for another success at the meeting this year in the JLT Novices’ Chase. Philip Hobbs’ horse has now had four starts over the bigger obstacles and on the evidence of his last outing in the Grade One Scilly Isle Novices’ Chase, he is improving with every run. 

The six-year-old beat a strong field at Sandown which included Lostintranslation and Vinndication. He tracked the leaders in the early stages of that contest and once his jockey Barry Geraghty asked his runner to quicken, he picked up with great pace. 

Defi Du Seuil has had a lot of success at Cheltenham so far in his career. Therefore, it is a racecourse he knows very well. The JLT Novices’ Chase looks like it is going to be his preferred option by his connections rather than the Arkle and from what we saw at Sandown, he is the worthy favourite. 

Josies Orders To Win Cross Country Chase

The Cross Country Chase is the most unique race of the 28 at the Cheltenham Festival and it definitely pays to back horses which have lots of experience in this type of contest. Josies Orders won this race in 2016 and looked right back to his best this season; therefore, he stands out the most. Trainer Enda Bolger has prevailed in the Cross Country Chase five times since it was added to the schedule in 2005. The Irishman will have an excellent chance of improving his record even further in March with Josies Orders who is already a winner around this course this season

Josies Orders had to settle for sixth place in the Cross Country Chase in 2018 but he made up for that disappointing showing to score in the equivalent of this race at the Punchestown Festival. At 6/1 in the betting, he offers great value if you fancy a punt in this rollercoaster of a contest. 

Native River To Win Cheltenham Gold Cup 

Native River is bidding to do what no horse has done since 2004 by retaining his crown in the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year and although Colin Tizzard’s runner has yet to get into the winner’s enclosure so far this season, he can reign supreme again in the biggest race in the sport.

The 3m2f distance of the Gold Cup is a strong test of stamina, especially when you have the hill to contend with after the last fence. Native River is a horse who will relish this race far more than Haydock or Kempton where he featured earlier in the campaign in the opening two legs of the Chase Triple Crown. 

Any rain in the ground during the meeting will help Native River’s chances even further as the former Welsh Grand National winner will have no problem slugging it out if it comes to it. The defending champion has to be considered over many of the younger horses in the race as last season’s novices have yet to prove that they have the ability to win a Gold Cup so, at 5/1 in the latest Gold Cup betting, the nine-year-old is a great price to repeat his feat of 2018. 

The 2019 Cheltenham Festival begins on March 12, with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle kicking off the meeting.