WITH the greatest show on turf less than two weeks away, MailSport has teamed up with BetVictor to offer readers the chance to win a pair of tickets for Cheltenham Festival’s opening day.
Cheltenham Festival begins with Champion Day on Tuesday, March 11. To get your name in the hat to win a pair of tickets simply answer the following question:
Which horse won the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup?
Answers, along with a name and daytime contact number, must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to Cheltenham Competition, Burton Mail, 65-68 High Street, DE14 1LE. Entries must be received no later than noon on Friday, February 28.
The winner’s name will be drawn at random. Normal Local World Ltd terms and conditions apply. All entrants must be aged 18 or over. The editor’s decision is final.
LEADING Irish handler Willie Mullins, once again, has an embarrassment of riches especially on the first day at Cheltenham Festival, where he is likely to saddle four favourites on the opening day.
Those are Vautour in the opening Supreme Novices’, Champagne Fever in the Arkle, Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle and Quevega in the Mares’ Hurdle.
The latter is looking for a record sixth successive win in the race and she is likely to go off a very short-priced favourite.
If the other three Irish hotpots have won bookies will be running for cover and Irish eyes will, most definitely, be smiling.
BetVictor are offering ‘non-runner no bet’ on the four championship races, including the Champion Hurdle where Hurricane Fly is looking to defend his crown.
The Fly faces stiffer opposition this year with young pretenders My Tent Or Yours, The New One and Our Conor all potential hurdling superstars.
But the enemy could come from within as the unbeaten mate Annie Power might be too good for the boys especially, in receipt of 7lbs from the males.
Wednesday’s highlight is the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase, and we now know that the brilliant 2013 winner Sprinter Sacre will not be back to defend his crown.
Trainer Nicky Henderson admitted defeat over the weekend in his race against time to have the best jumps horse in training ready for a repeat bid.
In his absence Sire De Grugy is the 7/4 favourite at BetVictor and if this were a flat right-handed track he would be odds on.
He is the best horse in the race, but there is a nagging doubt that Cheltenham does not bring out the best in the horse.
Sprinter Sacre’s absence means it is a fascinating event and I do think the 7/4 is worth taking.
Big Buck’s lost his long unbeaten run in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January but he is the one to beat in the World Hurdle for Paul Nicholls.
At Fishers Cross is the danger, especially if the ground continues to dry out.
Big Buck’s is looking for a fifth win in the contest and there are many who think he cannot, at the age of 11, recapture his former glories – but I felt he ran an excellent race on his comeback and think there is more to come.
Nicky Henderson’s Bobs Worth won the Gold Cup 12 months ago following on from his Festival successes in the RSA Chase (2012) and Albert Bartlett (2011) and he cannot be opposed as he bids for back-to-back wins in the blue riband event.
The nine-year-old flopped at Haydock on his reappearance but bounced back to form when landing the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown last time and if it ever stops raining he would be the nap of the meeting.
Cheltenham Festival recommendations from BetVictor:
Champion Hurdle Annie Power
BetVictor Champion Chase Sire de Grugy
World Hurdle Big Buck’s
Gold Cup Bobs Worth
For the latest odds go to BetVictor.com.