The Cheltenham Festival is on the horizon, with owners, trainers and jockeys all making their final preparations before the week of races begins. Thousands of people will flock to the venue, with millions of pounds expected to be punted on the meets throughout the week.
Here are three top tips for the Festivals’ three biggest races to use with Cheltenham free bet offers.
Cheltenham Gold Cup – Djakadam 9/2
Djakadam is one of the outsiders for the elite race of the week, narrowly behind the favourite Cue Card in the running. The eight-year-old failed in his last two attempts to claim victory in the meet, finishing second behind Coneygree in 2015 and was once again a runner-up to Don Cossack last year. As a result, jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Willie Mullins will be determined to get over the hump at the third time of asking. The quality of the field is not quite as strong in the past – with Djakadam boasting a victory ahead of Outlander at the Punchestown Chase last year, while he also finished in front of Cue Card last April at the same venue.
Mullins is confident of delivering the win due to the strength of their preparations this time around, although it will have been six weeks since the horse was last in action. One aspect that could be worth watching is the form of Native River – who has won his last three races on the spin. Djakadam and Walsh will have to be at their best to ensure that Mullins will be enjoying the success of victory this time around.
Champion Hurdle – Limini 7/1
Another Mullins horse that could achieve glory during the week is Limini, pending his participation in the race. The six-year-old has only six races under his belt, but has mustered four wins in those meets. Walsh and Mullins will have been buoyed by the success they achieved in Limini’s last outing, with the Chestnut Mare finishing narrowly ahead of Apple’s Jade at the Quevega Mares Hurdle. The six-year-old has a victory under his belt already at Cheltenham after winning the Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle event in 2016. As a result, he will be comfortable with the ground at the venue and should have no problem rising to the challenge of the racing at the big occasion.
Champions Chase – Fox Norton 6/1
Douvan has been dominant in the field and will be backed heavily to win the race. However, Fox Norton will not shy away from the challenge of breaking the seven-year-old’s 13-race winning run. Trainer Colin Tizzard has the Bay Gelding in impressive shape ahead of the meet, although he was narrowly beaten by Altior in his last outing.
Fox Norton’s second-place finish ended a run of victories in three-straight races, beginning with his victory at Cheltenham last year in the Weatherite Novices’ Chase. The seven-year-old’s other two victories also came at Cheltenham, suggesting that he enjoys the surface and the venue.
Big events can be unpredictable and full of drama. Remember when Kauto Star defied the odds to win the King George VI Chase in 2011, after previously winning four consecutive times since 2006? Anything can happen, and it would not be out of the question for Fox Norton to beat out the great Douvan to claim the Champions Chase title.