From the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, punters are looking forward to plenty of big betting opportunities, especially in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and the Coral Cup. As such, the Wednesday race card has seven races which include Neptune Novices Hurdle, Coral Cup, RSA Steeple Chase, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle, Cross Country Chase and Champion Bumper. To give you better insights to it all, let's explore each of these below.
Neptune Novices Hurdle
The Neptune Novices Hurdle is the first race for Wednesday 14 March starting at 13:30 UK time. In the past, the Neptune Novices Hurdle has been a good stage for novices as many have gone on to do great things. As a good example Faugheen recently went on to win the Champion Hurdle after winning the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2014. Apart from this, the favouritein the race is none other than Samcro, who managed to maintain a perfect unbeatable run from his time in bumpers to hurdles. Another one to look out for is ‘If the Cap fits’ who won all of his three hurdles in 2017 on turf.
RSA Steeple Chase
The RSA Steeple Chase is for the tried and tested and battle-hardened horses as the 3-mile race is said to drain a lot of energy. In the past, Irish horses have dominated this event due to their sheer strength and endurance. The favourite for the RSA Steeple Chase 2018 is Fountain Windfall who won two of his four races in 2017. The only reason he failed to win the other two was due to unfortunate falls while in the clear. The three-mile RSA Steeple Chase will be a challenge for sure, but Fountain Windfall seems to have all the necessary ingredients for success. Another favourite is Yanworth. In his two wins in 2017, he came all the way from behind to record impressive wins thus far- it is that kind of stamina and resilience that is crucial to win the RSA Steeple Chase.
The Coral Cup is popular among punters due to its reputation for producing big priced winners. This year’s top two favourites are Limited Reserve and Red Indian. Limited Reserve won two impressive races in 2017 including those at Haydock on heavy ground. The conditions will be a bit different at Cheltenham, but if Limited Reserve can emulate the stamina he showed on heavy ground, then there is a chance he can scoop the big win.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
Queen Mother Champion Chase will see two of the best competing in the same race. Both Politologue and Fox Norton had indifferent starts to 2017, but finished superbly. This proves as a tough choice for bettors, having to make a decision on choosing one or the other. Politologue already showed he favours the turf as when he won the Haldon Gold Cup and at the Tingle Creek. Fox Norton, on the other hand, had no wins in 2017, but managed to finish in the respectable ‘show’ places in all his races in 2017. With much more rest going into the festival in comparison to Politologue, Fox Norton will favour his chances.
Cross Country Chase
This event attracts the least number of bettors and spectators and there are still some who argue about its inclusion. Nevertheless, for those who take time to watch the race, they will testify it’s a good watch. Cause of Causes came second only to One for Arthur in the Grand National to record a career-best year and will go to the Festival in a good mood. However there are a few who say that Cause of Causes’ main threat is to be handed to him by Balletcasey.
Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle
The Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle is widely contested and is one of the most difficult to predict. For the favourites of this race, many opt for two of the most experienced horses (Veneer of Charm and Style de Garde) in terms of surface (turf) and distance (3 319 metres).
The inexperienced and a few first time racers may start off in the Champion Bumper and it can be quite tricky to pick probable favourites. The reason for this is that there are no stats or recent form cards to gauge how the horses are likely to fare. However, this year’s event includes Good Boy Bobby and Brace Yourself; two horses that have some racing experience. The only races Good Boy Bobby has ever been part of came in testing ground and he won all 2 of them. Brace Yourself, on the other hand, has one race to his belt at Down Royal. Though he didn’t finish among the top positions, the experience he got can come in handy at the Cheltenham Festival.