Tuesday, February 27

Guest article: The latest clues and tips in the run up to Cheltenham

The Cheltenham Festival is only a couple of weeks away, and race meetings up and down the country have been providing new information for race fans and punters as to which horses are coming into the best form at the right moment.

Meetings took place at Kempton, Doncaster, Ludlow and elsewhere over the past week. What lessons can we take away, and how did the bookies react to what took place? Here are the highlights.


All eyes were on Sussex Ranger in last week’s meeting at Kempton’s all weather track. Gary Moore’s four year old impressed with wins against stern opposition over the Christmas period, and this is a horse that has attracted the attention of top Twitter tipster Racing Tips as one to watch in the Triumph Hurdle, the opening race on Gold Cup Day. All was looking good and the horse way vying for the lead two furlongs out, but he was outpaced over the final furlong to finish a disappointing fourth. While Moore saw enough promise to remain optimistic, the bookmakers had a different opinion, and Sussex Ranger has slipped as low as 20/1.

Another horse that is entered for the Triumph Hurdle and was in action at Kempton is Redicean. He surged to victory in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle for his fourth straight win, and has now shortened to just 5/1 for Cheltenham glory.


A full day’s racing on 21 February saw several Cheltenham hopefuls get a run out. Paul Nicholls was left scratching his head, when 6/4 favourite Coastal Tiep was beaten to the post by crowd favourite Rayvin Black. Things went from bad to worse when two races later, another Nicholls favourite, Captain Bucks’s failed to deliver. Nicholls has both horses entered for the last race of the day on St Patrick’s Day, the Kim Muir Handicap Chase, and he can only watch as the odds for either to bring home some silverware start to drift skyward.


Band of Blood won the Polypipe Handicap in style after a long lay off. Richard Newland was delighted with the way the 10 year old performed, but it was the Neil Mulholland trained 20/1 shot Halo Moon that finished really set tongues wagging, finishing a creditable second. The two horses are set to meet again in the Ultima Handicap Chase on Champions Day, and perhaps the biggest surprise is that some bookmakers are still offering 50/1 on Halo Moon. Could lightning strike twice? The tipsters certainly feel that with odds like those, an each way bet has to be worthwhile.


The feature race at Punchestown on 21 February was the Quevega Mares Hurdle, and punters were eager to see Willie Mullins’ five year old Meri Devie in action. The 5/4 favourite did all that was expected of her, leading comfortably to win by five lengths. Mullins has her entered in the Mares Hurdle, and is confident that she can make the step up. It is hard to see any horse overcoming Apples Jade, but Meri Devie is looking like an increasingly tempting punt for an each way bet. The bookmakers are offering all manner of odds here, with everything from 25/1 to 40/1 available, so if you are tempted, make sure you shop around.


Another mare that’s attracting the attention of the tipsters and the bookies in anticipation of the Mares Hurdle is Lady Buttons. Saturday’s win at Newcastle showed a return to form after a disappointing outing at Leapordstown earlier in the month, so trainer Philip Kirby will take her to Cheltenham brimming with confidence. This time last week, the bookmakers had her as a rank outsider, but all have now shortened the odds to around the 33/1 mark.

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