Having broken down Cheltenham week with our extensive festival build-up, we’ve already covered the favourites for glory this year, so now lets get down to the real fun:
This year’s long-shots. The e/w punts.
We all love a big-price flutter and there is no better time to do so than at Cheltenham.
Here at BestofBets we’ve had our thinking caps on all week and after a winter glued to National Hunt action and scouring the form, we have our shortlist.
Here are our Cheltenham 2023 value picks.
Tuesday, 14:50, Ultima Handicap Chase (Group 1, 5yo+, 3m1f)
To begin, we look to the Ultima Handicap Chase.
We were toying with Gordon Elliott’s The Goffer, however, in the end Our Power gets the nod.
Chiefly, but not exclusively, the decision was down to his impressive run in the Coral Trophy a fortnight ago.
On that occasion, we backed the Sam Thomas-trained 8yo and we do so again.
That was first outing of the season at Kempton, and Our Power showed no sign of rust in going toe-to-toe with an extremely game Flegmatik.
Now a seven-time winner but fifth in this race last year, improvements will be eyed.
The only bone of contention might be whether Charlie Deutsch or Sam Twiston-Davies are aboard.
Both have won one apiece for the Walters and Potter Group in the last two.
Regardless, the Ultima again looks an open affair and in the horse’s sixth Cheltenham and fourth festival appearance, this could just be his time.
Carrying a 16/1 price with BetUK and with a real finish in the tank, Our Power is potentially one of the stronger e/w punts.
Wednesday, 16:10, Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (Group 2, 5yo+, 3m6f)
For our second pick, we are going all sentimental for one of our paddock favourites in Snow Leopardess.
Other than the Stayers’, the Cross Country Chase is the festival’s big endurance contest.
Having been on the fence about her before, after being narrowly pipped to victory in the Grand National Trial Chase, we are more than happy with the 11yo’s chances here.
The trip to Aintree may well be the priority after last year’s disappointment but Charlie Longsdon’s grey was very game in her previous festival outing.
Fourth in the National Hunt Novices’ in 2021, with the going soft, this old mare can get down in the trenches.
Her National Trial really felt like a eye-catcher and at 20/1 with BetVictor, Snow Leopardess has more than a shot.
Friday, 13:30, JCB Triumph Hurdle (Group 1, 4yo, 2m1f)
For our final two punts, we are skirting Thursday and hurdle straight to Friday, first to the day’s opener.
In a straight contest between the 4yos in the Triumph Hurdle, we are excited about a heftily-priced Zenta.
A horse we have had in our tracker since Fairyhouse last month, this filly is looking for a third win on the bounce, carrying the JP McManus colours.
Oh, and the other, rather appealing tag of Willie Mullins.
Whilst that does not guarantee success, the chances of it occurring at Cheltenham are that much greater.
Snapped up by Mullins last September, the Closutton native was quoted in the Racing Post saying that Zenta will ‘win lots of prizes’ if she keeps her jumping together.
With due caution, though this will be Zenta’s British debut but with a huge step-up in calibre, she is in perfect hands with Paul Townend as currently planned.
Many fancy one of Mullins’ other fillies in Lossiemouth for this trip, but we can see Zenta going well.
Comfortable over the trip and at 25/1 with BetVictor, she could impress on the big stage.
Friday, 15:30, Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup (Group 1, 3yo+, 3m2½f)
Okay. So the consensus is Galopin Des Champs should be too strong for the big one.
However, that won’t stop us with the last of our punts, Sounds Russian.
An 8yo trained by Ruth Jefferson, the gelding also caught the eye on Trials weekend back in January.
Runner-up to Ahoy Senor in the Cotswold Chase at 8/1, the son of Sholokhov finished well despite a number of mistakes on the home straight in front of the stand.
Sounds Russian has come home second on the bounce with a runner-up at Wetherall on Boxing Day also.
If we look at his wider record, a worst place of fourth is not too shabby a career since debuting in May 2021.
A three-time winner at Kelso with a further victory at Sedgefield, he was fourth again in the Many Clouds at Aintree at the end of last year.
So, despite this being a massive step-up in class, with most bookies set to pay out 4-5 places, an e/w punt at the very least looks interesting.
More especially, set at 20/1 across the board, Sounds Russian could just surprise a few.