While favourites Constitution Hill, Energumene, Galopin Des Champs and Blazing Khal will prove hard to beat in the Cheltenham Festival’s Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Gold Cup and Stayers’ Hurdle respectively – there are a number of promising outsiders in the betting lines to seriously consider.
With that in mind, read on as we dissect some of the wider-priced thoroughbreds in the Cheltenham odds who could very well be there or thereabouts in each of the four major races at Prestbury Park next month.
I Like To Move It – Champion Hurdle
Having won two of his last three, the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained I Like To Move It will enter Cheltenham’s feature race on day one in strong form. His most recent triumph in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton particularly impressed, with the pre-race 10/3 shot overcoming Knappers Hill and First Street to reign supreme by a dominant 17 lengths.
He finished the one-mile and seven-furlong affair full of running – and the decision to drop the six-year-old down in distance is one that jockey Sam Twiston-Davies believes was the right one to make leading up to the famed meeting.
“That was good, wasn’t it! Two and a half miles at Cheltenham last time was no good for him but brought back to two miles, we were certainly hopeful today”, he said.
“I know we can’t get anywhere near Constitution Hill, but we will give him something to think about [in the Champion Hurdle] and where else can we go after a performance like that? Cheltenham here we come!
“He is right up there with the best hurdlers I have trained like The New One and Khyber Kim, who was second in the Champion Hurdle.”
As Twiston-Davies mentioned, whether his success at Wincanton means he can challenge Constitution Hill is a whole other question – however – with I Like to Move It currently at 20/1 with some operators, an each-way bet could be tempting for punters.
Greaneteen – Champion Chase
While his third-placed outing at Newbury earlier this month was not the ideal preparation for the Queen Mother Champion Chase entry Greaneteen, his trainer Paul Nicholls will be confident his nine-year-old can compete in the £300,000 affair if he exhibits similar form to what he displayed in 2022.
After a poor outing at the Dublin Racing Festival 12 months ago, Greaneteen bounced back to secure consecutive triumphs in the Celebration Chase at Sandown followed by the Haldon Cup at Exeter. Couple that with a respectable run in December, in which he was beaten by an impressive Edwardstone – and all roads were pointing to Greaneteen being a live threat in the Festival’s feature race on day two.
That’s before the aforementioned dip in form to kick off 2023 – which has seen the French-bred horse widen to 25/1 – which is good for sixth-favourite at the time of writing. However, write this horse off at your own risk, and given the upset Editeur Du Gite managed to cause at Cheltenham in January, in which he defeated Champion Chase favourites Energumene and Edwardstone – anything is possible to come race day.
Bravemansgame – Gold Cup
It’s easy to see why Galopin Des Champs is the short-price favourite heading into the Gold Cup, with the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old having reigned supreme in seven of his last eight – with his only blemish coming in the Turners Novices’ Chase when he fell whilst in the lead at the last.
Despite Galopin Des Champs’ obvious credentials, the Gold Cup boasts a strong field of entries who have the talent to upset the applecart. One such thoroughbred who could challenge late is Bravemansgame, who won six out of his last seven including a 14-length triumph in King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Couple that with the fact that he fits all the trends of past winners, of which include 11 of the past 12 champions being between the ages of seven and nine, seven of the last 12 victors not boasting the favourites tag, and 11 of the past 12 having at least two runs in the current season leading up to the Gold Cup – and a boil over could be on the cards.
While he’s not as considerable an outsider when compared to the aforementioned I Like To Move It and Greaneteen – given the form of the Paul Nicholls-trained horse in the past 18 months – Bravemansgame could still be considered one of the better-valued chances across the four days at 7/1.
Paisley Park – Stayers’ Hurdle
Largely dismissed in the lead-up to this year’s Festival, Cheltenham veteran Paisley Park has a familiarity with the course and experienced enough success at the meeting to warrant respect. With a triumph in the Stayers’ Hurdle back in 2019, trainer Emma Lavelle understands what it takes to get her thoroughbred in top nick for the gruelling three-mile fixture.
If Paisley Park is to cause an upset and defeat favourites Blazing Khal and Teahupoo, the 11-year-old will need to wind back the clock and return to the form that saw her win six on the trot from October 2018 to January 2020.
Lavelle’s confidence that her Irish-bred horse can do that would’ve been bolstered by her outing at Kempton on Boxing Day, in which Paisley Park won the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle by more than four lengths from Goshen.
For those interested in betting on Paisley Park to reign supreme in the Stayers’ Hurdle, she currently sits at 14/1 with most operators.