Tuesday, January 23

GUEST ARTICLE: Best free bets and tips at this year's Cheltenham Festival

This week, the runners were announced for March’s Cheltenham Festival, and the punters have been flocking to the bookmakers’ sites in their droves to get a look at the betting odds. With the early favourites established, everything could change over the coming weeks. Here, we take an early look at which horses might be compelling options for getting some money down early. And equally importantly, where is the best place to do so. 

Zero risk wagering with free bets

Everyone likes something for nothing, and the increasingly competitive nature of the online betting sector gives gamblers a chance to bet with someone else’s money. Even the established high street bookmakers have no deposit wagers available, while others offer opening deposit bonuses that can amount to as much as 200 percent. Take a good look at what’s on offer, and remember to read the small print for wagering requirements, to check how soon you can withdraw your winnings. 

Can Sizing John retain the Gold Cup?

Last year, Sizing John snatched victory from bookmakers’ favourite Djakadam, after the latter faltered between the final two fences, to ultimately come in fourth. They will square up again this year, but after Djakadam’s worrying performance at Leapordstown in the Christmas Chase, few expect the eight year old gelding to be among the front runners this year.

The horse most likely to stand between Sizing John and a slice of Cheltenham history is Might Bite. Trainer Nicky Henderson has built up a winning record at Cheltenham that others could only dream of over his 30 year career, and the bookmakers have him as early favourite to add to the tally with another Gold Cup winner. 

Alitor fitness concerns for the Queen Mother Champion Chase

Another Henderson favourite for one of the showcase races is Alitor, slated to run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Ladies Day. When the runners were first announced, the eight year old gelding was odds on favourite, but fitness concerns following a breathing problem have got some bookmakers backtracking, with odds slipping to even money or even 7/4 on some sites. 

Fully fit, it would be hard to see any other horse coming close, and much will rest on how Alitor performs in next month’s run out at Newbury. If all goes well, expect the odds to shorten dramatically, so for anyone with the courage of their convictions, now is the time to get their money down. It could be the perfect opportunity to get the most out of one of those free bets. 

Buveur D’Air – the Champion of Champions Day

Last year, Buveur D’Air romped home to win the Champions Hurdles on the opening day of the festival, and a look through the race card suggests that there is every chance of history repeating itself. Another horse from Henderson’s seemingly inexhaustible stable of Cheltenham winners, he has comfortably won in both outings so far this season. Bookmakers are confident that he will make it three out of three, and have him odds on favourite at 4/6. 

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