The 2019 Cheltenham Festival is now just around 40 days away, with many of the top horses now wrapped in cotton wool until race day. Sure, there are some big decisions to make over trainers’ entries and plenty of horses will have a run between now and the 12th March, but the final picture has started to emerge.
Indeed, there have been several horses that have really staked claims in the last few months, rattling the betting markets and making punters take notice. Others have gone the other direction, stumping observers with average or, frankly, terrible performances.
The first nod must go to Presenting Percy, a horse who made his long-awaited season debut just last week. In fairness, Presenting Percy’s reputation grew by default in his absence, as other Gold Cup contenders struggled over the winter months. An impressive win at Gowran Park in the Galmoy Hurdle saw Presenting Percy made the outright favourite for the Gold Cup, with 3/1 the best price on offer with Bet365 and William Hill.
Might Bite’s odds have tumbled
As stated, some horses in the Gold Cup picture have struggled, notably, Might Bite, who was the ante-post favourite for the best part of a year. His odds are now as big as 20/1 with Betfair, but backers will hope he is a different prospect after going through a routine breathing operation.
This guide to Cheltenham betting odds and offers 2019 breaks down the top contenders and highlights the best bookies’ free bets, but we also know that some horses have time to make a case. Footpad, for example, is due to take part in the Dublin Festival. He is currently as big as 9/1 (Unibet) for the Champion Chase, but a good performance will push those odds downwards.
Of course, regardless of Footpad’s performances, he still has a huge problem in the shape of Altior. Is there a better jumps horse on the planet than Nicky Henderson’s 9-year-old, a three-time Cheltenham Festival winner? His best odds for the Champion Chase are 4/7 with Betfair, with some bookies now as low 4/11. The feeling is that Footpad will need to be at his best, whereas Altior will need to be at his worst to see that unbeaten streak coming to an end.
Paisley Park has many backers for Stayers’ Hurdle
Few had heard of Paisley Park just a couple of months ago, but he now finds himself as the outright favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle after some excellent wins in recent months. BetBright have the highest odds at 11/4, but others are as low as 2/1. Last year’s winner, Penhill, is available at 7/1 and the near-legendary Faugheen is 12/1 (William Hill).
As we have seen last year, however, horses with huge odds can still make an impact on the Festival, even if they are to be considered for each-way value. Bachasson, for example, is 25/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle and is certainly good enough to challenge for the top places.
However, most generous of all might just be the 40/1 Betfair offer for Bristol De Mai to win the Gold Cup.
The grey is capable of hanging with the best, and he beat 2018 Gold Cup winner Native River and runner up Might Bite at Haydock in November. He sometimes flops in big races, but he may be the perfect candidate for punters who are looking some value. Put simply, he has the quality to win a big race, it’s just a matter of proving it on the big day.