The 2019 Cheltenham Festival is creeping ever nearer which means the ante-post markets are getting more and more interesting.
We’ve already been successful in identifying Paisley Park, Elixir De Nutz and Bellshill as potential outsiders. The trio have all shortened following subsequent runs to back up our claims.
So here are five more to add to your tracker ahead of the Festival in March.
Brewin’upastorm – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
You’ll need to take a slight leap of faith with Brewin’upastorm. The six-year-old has yet to win at the top level and has been found wanting behind both Champ and Birchdale over the last couple of months.
But hold on. Let’s give Olly Murphy’s raider the benefit of the doubt. He finished a good fourth behind Champ on his first run over the 2m 4f distance, and was ahead of Birchdale at Cheltenham in January before falling at the last.
There’s more to come from the six-year-old, who looks set to renew rivalries with the aforementioned pair in the Ballymore.
Definitly Red – Cheltenham Gold Cup
Trainer Brian Ellison and jockey Danny Cook have been talking up the 10-year-old’s chances after he racked up two further wins in Grade 2 company at the back end of 2018.
His ability at that level has never been in doubt. It’s whether he can do it in elite company which remains unanswered. After bottoming out in the Gold Cup last year following an exhausting January run in the Cotswold Chase, the decision has been made to give him a clean run up to the Festival this time round.
Connections feel that could be the difference as the veteran seeks to improve on his gallant sixth from 12 months ago.
Easy Game – Multiple
You could be forgiven for forgetting about Easy Game. Willie Mullins’ charge has been missing in action since putting Defi Bleu and Rhinestone to the sword in the Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle.
But he’s still there. And he’s a nice price for the Ballymore and the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, both of which he’ll shorten for depending on where he’s aimed.
The former looks the most likely destination at the moment, although his performances over the 2m 4f distance suggest a step up to 3m could suit. Either way we’re eager to see the progressive five-year-old at Prestbury Park.
Pacha Du Polder – Foxhunter Chase
Some horses just love it round a particular track. For Pacha Du Polder that track is Cheltenham. Even more handily the 12-year-old has a consistent habit of turning up in a big way for the 3m 2½f Foxhunter Chase.
Paul Nicholls’ charge has galloped home first in each of the last two years and will be aimed at the renewal once again this time around. Keep an eye out for any prep-runs prior to the event and for a strange quirk in the jockey bookings.
Female riders have piloted the winner in each of the last four Foxhunters, so it could be another instructive tool this time around as well.
Politologue – Ryanair Chase
There’s no end of possible contenders for the 2019 Ryanair Chase. But Politologue is one that leaps off the page at a nice price. The eight-year-old didn’t quite stay the 3m required in the King George VI Chase over Christmas and looks set to be dropped back to two-and-a-half miles for the Ryanair.
His run in the Ascot Chase should provide us with more information about his condition, although previous successes over the likes of Min and Charbel are already solid markers.
The raider’s pace makes him the perfect horse to be delivered late on the run for home.
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