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Cheltenham Festival Notebook: Who has Glistened in the Gold Cup Build-up?

Fast-approaching the start of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, shrewd punters are filling up their notepads, jotting down the form of the stars who have caught their eye this season.

The numbers will be whittled down in the weeks before the curtain goes up at Prestbury Park but until then we guide you through our list of what’s hot and what’s not in the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting. The festival’s main event, this grade one spectacle, decided over 3m 2f, offers a whopping prize to the winner, ensuring the stars come out to shine.

Might Bite

The antepost favourite with in early February is Might Bite, currently trading at 3/1, and if the market is correct, Nicky Henderson’s nine-year-old will claim the Blue Riband of jump-racing. It’s little surprise to see odds compilers throw their weight behind Might Bite either as he went into the year boasting five wins on the bounce. Last spotted claiming the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, he edged big-price runner-up Double Shuffle by a length. A horse in red-hot form.

Source: Stephen Kavanagh via Twitter

Sizing John

Sizing John heads the chasing pack, priced as best of the rest at 6/1. The experienced eight-year-old, winning nine of his first 20, reeled off five victories on the bounce, but has some making up to do to punters, having finished down the order in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase late last year. A race won by Road To Respect, Sizing John was never in it – despite going off as odds-on favourite – a couple of mistakes putting paid to his chances. His best will see him go close but punters won’t be in a rush to trust the second-fav with their hard-earned cash after that effort.

Native River

He might be a 9/1 third-favourite but some serious question marks hang over Native River at present. The Colin Tizzard trained hope hasn’t been seen on track since finishing third in this race last year, beaten by Sizing John and Minella Rocco. Three lengths were the difference that day between first and third, but Native River made an error at the business end of the contest and that seemed to knock the stuffing out of him. With a better run who knows what would’ve happened. Will the time away from competitive action scare backers off? Well, it’s not a positive, that’s for sure, and he’ll be plenty rusty when going to post. There are more reliable sorts at better prices in this renewal.

Source: Horse Racing Ireland via Twitter


One at a bigger price worth a mention is Djakadam for Willie Mullins. The star went off a convincing 3/1 favourite last year and wasn’t disgraced when finishing fourth. Another we could make excuses for as he was shaping well when blundering two out. He didn’t get a clear run that day but was good enough to lead the field at times, crucially sitting at the head of the pack when making his mistake. In the end, it went down as a race best forgotten but punters in a forgiving mood, who think Djakadam will run in the Gold Cup, find him marked up on the board at a monster 33/1. Placed third in the Irish Gold Cup in February, that will attract the attention of each-way punters.