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Hundreds of horses will compete at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, including a number of the most highly rated jumps racehorses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The highest quality horses will be in action in the Festival’s Grade 1 races, many of which are considered to be the UK championship races for that race’s format and distance.
You can get information on every one of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival runners on our race cards, which will be published the day before each day of races at the Festival. While our race cards give you important form and race facts for each entry, we’re going to take a look ahead at some of the horses to watch out for at Cheltenham 2014.
At the age of five Willie Mullins’ Vaoutour fits into the right age bracket, and his three consecutive wins ahead of Cheltenham mark him as a genuine contender. Throw in the fact that his trainer won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last season, and it’s clear he deserves some of the hype he’s getting. Bet365 have him at 10/1 at time of writing, which is great value on easily the best horse in the field.
We’re always on the lookout for a horse who showed modest ability over hurdles and then improves over fences. These horses can easily be overpriced when competing against horses who were more successful over hurdles, and can offer real value. Dogding Bullets fits the bill perfectly in the 2014 Arkle Challenge Trophy. A modest talent over hurdles he’s come on since moving into chases. He’s since won all his races, including a 10 length victory last time out. Get him while he’s still priced over 4/1.
Cheltenham loves nothing more than a champion racehorse that makes a successful comeback. And this year it’s Hurricane Fly who promises to deliver in the 2014 Champion Hurdle. The three times Champion Hurdle winner claimed back the title in 2013 after missing out in 2012. And he’s back with a bang in 2014, having already won four Irish Grade 1 hurdles races this season. He started out as 3rd favourite but has already taken top billing, which means you’ll need to place an all-or-nothing back bet on him if you want to take part in a piece of Cheltenham Festival history.
What’s better than a horse that’s competed and won at Cheltenham previously, is the highest rated horse in the field and is still available at over 4/1? The answer is, of course, nothing. Meet Red Sherlock, the second favourite in the 2014 Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle. He not only meets the description above, but also ran out winner in a Grade 2 trial race last time out – beating the field by 21 lengths. While you can get him each-way he’s as close to money in the bank you’ll find at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.
It’s never a good idea to undervalue a proven stayer in the Cheltenham Festival’s most arduous novices chase. Yet this is exactly what the betting market has done in the 2014 RSA Chase, where Corrin Wood finds himself an unfashionable 4th behind Ballycasey, Smad Place and Morning Assembly. Not only is he a proven stayer – having chalked up wins over distances up to 26 furlongs – but he’s also one of those horses who gets an extra burst of speed when moved from soft to good turf. He’s still trading well over 4/1, so get him each way while you still can.
Sprinter Sacre has been one of the true stars of national hunt racing in the last couple of years. However, his exploits have overshadowed the emergence of a horse of comparable quality in Gary Moore’s Sire De Grugy. He’s been the form steeplechase racehorse over 2 miles in 2013-14, winning the Tingle Creek Chase, Clarence House Chase and Desert Orchid Chase. With an out-of-form Sprinter Sacre out of the picture for the 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase, Sire De Grugy is easily the most solid banker in any of the feature races – and you can still get him above evens.
The Champion Bumper has been the stage on which many of Cheltenham’s most famous racehorses have launched their careers. It’s also been one of the toughest races to predict. When sifting through the large field, we unearthed Modus – an entry who has already won at Cheltenham and has the raw pace needed to win national hunt’s most prestigious flat race. Throw in the fact that he’s in form and priced over 10/1 and you have yourself a solid addition to your 2014 Cheltenham Festival portfolio.
Sizing Europe has won three races at the Cheltenham Festival, yet has never priced as the favourite when he won. The underrated 2011 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner is one of the most consistent performers in the business – and has finished further back than second place just once since 2010. He had one bad day at the office in December, and now finds himself priced outside the top 10 in the 2014 Ryanair Chase. This means you can get unbeatable value on one of the hardest working horses in national hunt racing.
Big Buck’s has enjoyed a long and illustrious reign in the World Hurdle, but he’s past his best. There are several horses knocking at the door of the World Hurdle, and the one knocking the hardest is mare, Annie Power. She’s unbeaten in her career, has age on her side and has totally outclassed every field she has competed against. With rival mare Quevaga likely to compete in the Mares Hurdle, Annie Power could be one of the big stories at Cheltenham 2014.
The two favourites identified by the 2014 Triumph Hurdle can both make solid claims for the top spot in the betting. However, we give Le Rocher the nudge as he took a liking to Cheltenham in December when he won a Triumph Hurdle trial by an impressive 10 lengths. While this race is notoriously difficult to call, Le Rocher is priced high enough, and has shown enough ability, to make for a confident each-way bet.
The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle is the toughest novice hurdles event at the Festival, and in 2014 we find a suitably tough candidate emerging in King’s Palace. There’s a chance that he may run in the Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle, but with his staying credentials he’s better suited to the 3 mile course for the AB Novcies’ Hurdle. Unbeaten this season, and travelling to Cheltenham in the wake of big wins over 3 miles or more, he’s excellent value for a straight back bet at 3/1.
The reigning Gold Cup champion has a tough task ahead of him in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He’ll be up against a powerful, in-form horse in Silviniaco Conti, as well as genuine dark horse in the shape of Ireland’s Last Installment. However, there’s no doubting Bob’s Worth aptitude for the occasion. He’s already won three races at the Cheltenham Festival, and proved himself in form when he won the Lexus Chase last time out. What sets him apart from his main rival, however, is his ability over 27 furlongs. When Cue Card was still in the field he posed a real risk to Bob’s Worth, but with Colin Tizzard’s entry injured, no horse looks able to match Bob’s Worth’s staying credentials. This race has an ability to produce upsets, but Bob’s Worth has as good a shot as he could ask for of winning his second Gold Cup title.
Before placing your bets on these 2014 Cheltenham Festival runners, ensure that your bookie is offering no-runner no-bet (NRNB) or your bet will be forfeited if your selection does not race. You can bet on every Cheltenham Festival race with no-runner no-bet at Bet365.
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