Cheltenham is just around the corner, we look at what to back
Every Cheltenham festival, there are bankers from both sides of the Irish Sea. Whether they win or not, they’re the bankers which punters put their faith in and this year is no different.
As it stands, there are four horses which are currently even money or shorter and that’s what casts as a Cheltenham Festival ‘Banker’.
It’s around an 11/1 shot that the quartet of Benie Des Dieux, Altior, Tiger Roll and Sir Erec all triumph up the famous Prestbury Park hill. Not many 11/1 shots win at the festival, let alone on any normal day, so let’s investigate the possibility of this actually happening.
Are the four 2019 Cheltenham Festival ‘Bankers’ rock solid or will they fall short?
BENIE DES DIEUX: It’s hard to believe that we’ve yet to see the brilliant mare this season and that we’ve only seen her once since her terrific triumph in last year’s OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. She hasn’t had an injury, to our knowledge, but then again, it’s been a funny season and Willie Mullins doesn’t need to be told how to train mares when it comes to the Cheltenham Festival.
The vibes have been good in recent weeks about the wellbeing of the eight-year-
old, which is unbeaten in her five starts for Mullins, and it’s also worth noting that she’ll be the only course and distance winner in next Tuesday’s Grade 1 contest.
She’s far superior to the second favourite Stormy Ireland, she’s very much sets the standard in the OLBG Mares Hurdle.
Banker or Blowout? Banker.
ALTIOR: For any horse to win 17 races on the trot, that takes some doing. When it comes to Altior, he’s been doing it at the top level ever since he won his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
Since then, he’s got better every year and he’s proved whatever doubters wrong every single time he’s run too. I, for one, had my doubts as to whether he was as good as it seemed but he won me over with his terrific and thrilling win over Un De Sceaux in this season’s Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
Tomorrow week, he’ll bid for his fourth consecutive festival triumph and nothing that we’ve seen suggests that he won’t collect again.
Sure, current second favourite Min has tried twice and failed twice.
Banker or Blowout? Banker.
TIGER ROLL: Not many reigning Grand National winners have lined up in the following year’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase but barring accidents, that will be the case at next week’s festival.
When winning in brilliant fashion in last year’s race, everything had been geared around preparing Tiger Roll for that 2018 renewal and it worked out perfectly on the day. His recent, if surprising, win over hurdles at Navan in Grade 2 company puts him in fine fettle for defending his crown and he’s the horse to beat this time around. However, we all know that anything can happen in this 3m6f heat and taking even money about a horse isn’t advised in a race where there have only been three successful market leaders in the 14 years’ history of the race.
Not just that but the unexposed trio of Don Poli, Vyta Du Roc and Kingswell Theatre, along with the Enda Bolger brigade, won’t easily succumb.
Banker or Blowout? Blowout.
SIR EREC: It's 45 years since an odds-on favourite won the Triumph Hurdle. There haven’t been many, if any, sent off at the kind of odds in which Sir Erec will trade at in the opening race of the final day of the festival.
So, the statistics are very much against the high profile four-year-old on that front. In saying that, there haven’t been many juveniles as exciting as Joseph O’Brien’s charge to run in the race in a very long time and the way he won on his final start, in Grade 1 company, has led to most of us dreaming of what he might do next week.
Six years ago, Our Conor went into the race as one of Ireland’s best chances of the week and yet, he was sent off a 4/1 chance on the day.
Sir Erec seems to have everything and facing what appears to be a weakened home team, looks bombproof.
Banker or Blowout? Banker