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Cheltenham Festival Tips 2023

The Cheltenham festival is just over two months away now! After seeing lots of top horses in action over the busy Christmas period, 3 horses have caught my eye and I think they are worth a few quid for Cheltenham in March!

Mares Hurdle – Marie’s Rock 3/1

Marie’s Rock is my first selection in this article for Nicky Henderson. She won very nicely at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and looks to be progressing still despite being an 8-year-old now. She won the race last year and she has since proven it was no fluke at all, as she went over to Punchestown after and won well and beat the boys convincingly at the start of this year despite the ground being softer than ideal and she ran keenly but still got up the hill very powerfully. She will have come on plenty for that run and although the Mares Hurdle is looking like it could turn out to be a very competitive race, she has all the attributes to go and win the race again and she ticks every box in my eyes. Nico de Boinville is one of the best jockeys to have on board at the festival and she looks like she is going to peak at the perfect time for the middle of March. At currently 7/2, I think she is a strong selection!

Hunter’s Chase – Vaucelet 4/1

Vaucelet is only an 8-year-old, so is still relatively young when comparing to other horses he is likely to face in the Hunter’s Chase at Cheltenham. His trainer is very good with these types, and he should have a very good amateur on board in Barry O’Neill hopefully. Vaucelet won at Down Royal over Christmas, but connections thought he wasn’t quite ready to win and the ground was too soft, but despite the negative thoughts he was very game and got up on the line and the form of his rivals looks decent enough. The trainer has stated that this is his number one horse going to the festival, so the second horse in the market, Winged Leader can be ruled out on that basis. Vaucelet looks like he is being peaked at the perfect time too and hopefully he will progress a lot from his recent run as he will need too but I think he is another horse that ticks all the boxes and expect a bold showing from this progressive horse.

Champion Chase – Blue Lord 7/1

Now Blue Lord has surprised me a lot this season with his two victories but there is no knocking the way in which he has done them. Paul Townend have him a brilliant ride at Clonmel, but Blue Lord showed this has no fluke at Leopardstown under Daryl Jacob by beating Captain Guinness and Chacun Pour Soi very easily in the end. He travelled through the race very powerfully and his jumping was very slick. He has clearly matured over the summer and is stepping up on his novice chase form he showed last year. He has only been beaten once over fences and that was in the Arkle when he finished a very good third behind Edwardstone. He is a year younger than that rival so, I think he can reverse that form and Edwardstone is coming of a fall at Kempton which is not ideal. I think the Champion Chase will be run perfectly to suit Blue Lord as he can be a little keen, but this won’t be an issue with the pace they will go in the race, and he could pick them off one by one. Now, Energumene is obviously a worthy favourite but at the prices with him being odds-on, I think Blue Lord is a much better alternative at an each-way price. I would definitely be interested in betting on Blue Lord in a market without Energumene, but even so if for some reason the favourite didn’t turn up for the race, Blue Lord would be much shorter than 7/1 and I can’t see connections going for the Ryanair instead, he has proven this season that he deserves a shot at the Champion Chase!