RACING fan Gaurav Chaddah (@GauravChaddah) shares his Cheltenham Festival NAP, his best each-way bet and the market leader he suspects is most vulnerable.
Cheltenham Festival Fancies | 12th-15th March 2019
We are nearly here… After months of waiting, the 2019 Cheltenham Festival is upon us. The Supreme on Tuesday afternoon will kick-start four days of mouthwatering action at Prestbury Park.
With the Festival upon us, I shall be looking going over my best bet of the week, my lay of the week and my best each-way fancy.
NAP: Delta Work (11/5 Matchbook)
I think the best bet of the week could be Delta Work in this year’s RSA Chase, which was last year won by Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy.
The six-year-old is trained by Gordon Elliot and has impressed in his three chase starts to date, most recently hacking up in a Grade 1 novice chase by eight lengths.
The form of his runs this season is also working out very nicely, having won the Dinmore Chase in December, where he beat Le Richebourg, who until ruled out with injury was favourite for this year’s Arkle and had the beating of recent winners Jetz and Cadmimum.
His position in the market has gathered big support over the last few days or so, due to problems with the Nicky Henderson-trained Santini, who up until last week was favourite. It is expected he will be fit in time, but I’d be surprised if Delta Work didn’t go off shorter.
Interestingly, in last year’s Festival, he edged to victory in the Pretemps Hurdle Final, which was the same race won by Presenting Percy the year before winning the RSA which would suggest the omens are good.
LAY: Paisley Park (7/4 Betfair)
For many, this is the banker of the week but for me the Emma Lavelle-trained Paisley Park is the most vulnerable favourite of the week in the Stayers Hurdle.
His price may have been bigger had retaining champion Penhill be declared for the race but Willie Mullins confirmed last year’s winner will be missing the Festival due to injury, however in Faugheen, Mullins has a massive chance.
Faugheen won the Punchestown Stayers Hurdle in May by 13 lengths, beating Penhill in the process and should the 11-year-old turn up in the same form then I think he will be hard to beat.
Mullins has won the last two renewals of the race, both times beating off two well favoured English horses in the shape of UknowwhatImeanHarry and then Sam Spinner last year, and I think Paisley Park will join the growing list of English favourites being overturned.
E/W: Itchy Feet (33/1 Bet365)
Whilst I think he may not win, I think this Olly Murphy-trained five-year-old is massively overpriced in Tuesday’s renewal of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
A concern is that we haven’t seen him since November but his form from earlier on in the season would suggest his price is too big.
On his last start, which was at Cheltenham, he was beaten by the Colin Tizzard-trained Elixir De Nutz, who is a much shorter price than Itchy Feet despite having only beat him by a length that day, and was also in receipt of 5lb.
Prior to that, he won a novice hurdle at Kempton, where off level weights he beat the Paul Nichols trained Grand Sancy by two-and-half-lengths and again the difference in price between the two is staggering.
Other horses have obviously improved over the months and on most recent form it is easy to see why the previous mentioned are at smaller prices, but it is difficult to ignore Itchy Feet at 33/1 and I could easily see him running into a place.