The Cheltenham Festival in the UK is now within touching distance, with only a month before the hallowed turf welcomes the finest collection of National Hunt thoroughbreds from all over Europe. Unfortunately, the stands won’t be packed this year, but horse racing fans can expect the National Hunt racing’s usual thrill in Cheltenham.
With only a month to go, Gaillard Du Mesnil is down to 10/3 from 10/1, while Stattler stands at 8/1 from 12/1. Min also slightly drifted to 7/1 after an unusual mistake-ridden performance during the Dublin Racing Festival. However, there’s no change in Malher Allstar or Fantasio D’alene’s prices, but there is a possibility they might not be present in the March festival.
Here are three horses traveling to the Cheltenham Festival with a solid chance of giving favorite backers a hard time.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Bally Adam
Bally Adam‘s short hurdling career has remained under the shadow of Appreciate it, having finished behind the Mullins-trained horse in his last two starts. However, Bally Adam might go into the Cheltenham Festival slightly overpriced.
The Gordon Elliot recruit started his career with a third position finish in a bumper, going against a short-priced favorite before recording an incredible eighteen-length victory during his next start. After that, his transfer to obstacles was even sweeter as he overpowered 23 rivals by a total of 13 lengths during the first two starts over hurdles. However, when Fame and Glory went against Appreciate It during the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, many would only describe his jumping as phenomenal.
Champion Chase, Nube Negra
Desert Orchid champion Nube Negra has shown a huge potential in his hurdling career, taking the third position during the Fred Winter and Firth at Aintree’s Grade One. However, the shift to the bigger obstacles seemed to launch the seven-year-old gelding to new heights.
During his chase debut, the Skeleton-trained gelding dismissed the highly-celebrated Ballymoy, scoring comfortably before registering a decisive win at Fakenham. Since that win in October 2019, Dink’s son has only participated in three runs, recording a career-best performance during the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase, where he dismissed Altoir and Rouge Vif. Unfortunately, Altoir dominated the headlines and stole the limelight from Nube Negra’s elegant display.
Albert Bartlett, Fakeira
Fakeira’s courageous performance in the 2m6f racecourse is hard to ignore, and his performance is expected to improve when stepped up on a three-mile race. The Golden Elliot-trained horse has some solid hurdles from over the last year, defeating 93% of his opponents, and there’s more improvement expected to come. That was evident after he stepped up for the first time in the 2m6f race during the Dublin Racing Festival, finishing fourth behind winner Gaillard Du Mesnil.
While Fakeira is looking like he might weaken, he has demonstrated a gritty attitude and will undoubtedly appreciate running a 3-mile race at Cheltenham. Fakeira is also expected to throw down the gauntlet to challenge Stattler all the way to the line.