The Cheltenham Festival is only a few weeks away and, after the Cheltenham Trials on Saturday gave us some pointers, there looks to be at least four short-priced favourites worth taking on. So let’s take a look at these dodgy favourites – and what we might want to back against them.
Vroum Vroum Mag – Mares Hurdle
Trainer Willie Mullins has lost the services of reigning Champion Hurdler Annie Power for Cheltenham and, with 2015 Champion Hurdler Faugheen missing the Irish Champion Hurdle on Sunday, there must be some speculation as to whether Vroum Vroum Mag may end-up running in the Champion Hurdle. The fact she was also tried over 2-miles at Doncaster on Saturday also adds weight to that possibility. Personally, I think she’s be better off in the Gold Cup or World Hurdle. However, with all that speculation, and the fact connections also have Limini entered in the Mares Hurdle, she looks worth taking on – and the obvious one to take her on with is Apples Jade, who also beat her earlier in the season anyway.
Bellshill – RSA
Bellshill has the potential to be a top-chaser, but he’s been a big flop at the last two Cheltenham Festivals in the Bumper in 2015 and the Supreme Novice Hurdle in 2016. They were over 2-miles, and his form over 3-miles has a better look about it, but his from doesn’t look as strong as say Might Bite who would have won the Kauto Star Novices Chase easily in a quicker time than Thistlecrack won the King George over the same course and distance, if he hadn’t of fallen at the last. That form was massively boosted by Royal Vacation on Saturday, too.
Cue Card – Ryanair Chase
The obvious reason for taking on Cue Card in the Ryanair Chase is that connections will surely try and win a Gold Cup with him after Thistlecrack showed he wasn’t invincible on Saturday. Even if he does turn-up, he’s been doing most of his racing over 3-miles recently, and could well get out-speeded by younger horses over 2½ miles. A couple of horses who look likely to be aimed at this race, who have really caught the eye in recent weeks, are Sizing John and Uxizandre, with the latter’s performance behind Un Des Sceaux on Saturday suggesting he could make a bold big to land a second Ryanair Chase.
Defi De Seuil – Triumph Hurdle
Phillip Hobbs’ 4-year-old has impressed all season, and he would probably be very hard to beat if the ground came-up soft at the Cheltenham Festival. However, the ground is usually quicker than he’s proven himself on so far. The reason for really wanting to take him on at this stage though is the fact he was only second favourite behind Charli Parcs on Saturday before that one was taken out because of the ground. Barry Geraghty had also originally opted for Charli Parcs, and he may well take over as favourite if successful in his chosen Festival warm-up.