The countdown to the greatest show on turf has begun and we’re picking out some early Cheltenham Festival 2019 tips for ante-post punters to consider.
We’ll update this page all the way through to the four-day spectacular, as fresh clues emerge regarding potential bookie-bashing contenders.
Nicky Henderson claimed the annual curtain raiser for the third time with Altior in 2016 and looks to have another hot prospect on his hands with ANGELS BREATH. This five-year-old son of Shantou switched to Seven Barrows following a 12-length win in an Irish point-to-point and readily drew clear to prevail on his debut under rules at Ascot just before Christmas. Henderson beamed: “I’ve got to say, even I thought he was impressive. We’ve always thought he was good and he looked very good in his point-to-point. I think there is a fair bit of improvement to come.”
BUVEUR D’AIR suffered a shock defeat against stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day, ending a run of 11 straight victories, but this strong galloper is much more suited by Cheltenham’s uphill finish than that sharp track. He powered clear of My Tent Or Yours in this contest two years ago and showed plenty of heart when outbattling Melon to retain his crown last term. We can’t see any reason why he won’t join past legends Hatton’s Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War, See You Then and Istabraq in completing the hat-trick.
Punters won’t get rich backing ALTIOR at short odds but it’s hard to oppose Henderson’s superstar in our Cheltenham Festival 2019 tips and putting him in ante-post multiple bets will at least give us the chance to cheer him home again. With the Supreme Novices Hurdle and Arkle Novices Chase already on his CV, he finished full of running when demolishing Min by seven lengths in this race last year. Surely Altior only has to avoid injury or a rare jumping mishap to continue his love affair with Prestbury Park.
POLITOLOGUE (pictured above) failed to last home over 3m when fourth to stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, so dropping down just under half a mile for this contest looks an obvious option. Paul Nicholls’ flying grey gelding held off the challenge of Min to land the Melling Chase at Aintree over a similar trip last April and kept on bravely to deny Charbel at Ascot over 2m 5f in November. That effort tempted connections to have a tilt at the King George, but the consensus is now that he is an ideal type for this event.
This would be Plan B for the likes of Faugheen and Samcro, so preference is to opt for the fast-improving PAISLEY PARK at this stage. Emma Lavelle’s gelding was a 33/1 outsider when down the field in last year’s Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle over the same course and distance, but has been a revelation this term. After landing competitive handicaps at Aintree and Haydock in fine style, he took a step up to Grade One class in his stride when storming home in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. That was on unsuitable soft ground and he was even more impressive when romping home by 12 lengths in the Cleeve Hurdle here.
Clan Des Obeaux’s King George success was a little unsatisfactory, with Thistlecrack and Native River merely plodding on for the minor placings and Might Bite flopping for the second time this term. That leaves the door open for a new kid on the block to come through and Irish raider PRESENTING PERCY fits the profile perfectly. The eight-year-old jumped and travelled well throughout last season’s RSA Chase, before powering clear for a convincing victory. He was also an impressive scorer here over hurdles in 2017 and has the scope to warrant further support in our Cheltenham Festival 2019 tips. Kicked off his campaign with a smooth success in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park for the second straight year.
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