After the Grand National, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is perhaps the most famous event in jumps racing. Run over 3 miles 2 ½ furlongs, it is a gruelling test of stamina, resolve and jockey’s skill. The eagerly-awaited race will take place on Friday 16th March at 3.30pm.

 

 

Despite being several weeks away, punters are already scouring the main horse racing and online betting sites for any good 2018 Cheltenham betting tips for the Gold Cup and other races at the Festival. It is one of the biggest betting events of the year and plenty of scrutiny will be put on every race between now and then.

Two things happened recently to shift the focus of the betting chatter for the big race however. Firstly, Might Bite had a brilliant run at the King George VI Chase, which led to his odds being slashed to 3/1 by several top bookmakers. Secondly, last year’s Gold Cup winner, Sizing John, could only finish 7th in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase and promptly had his odds lengthened.

 

 

Might Bite is undoubtedly worthy of his place as early favourite for the Gold Cup though. Nicky Henderson’s horse had a stellar year in 2017, capped off with that King George VI win. As far as betting tipsters are concerned, he is the horse to beat.

 

Still, there are plenty of other interesting candidates for this year’s Gold Cup. In fact, only once in the last four years has the favourite finished in the first three in the Gold Cup (Don Cossack, 9/4 winner in 2016). So, it is a race where punters can find a bit of value.

 

 

One such runner could be Native River. Currently priced at 12/1, Colin Tizzard’s gelding has not been seen in a race since finishing third in last year’s Gold Cup. Native River is a class act however, and is expected to make his comeback at the Denman Chase at Newbury in February. If he performs well there, that 12/1 could be shortened considerably.

 

Value could also be found in Bristol De Mai. The win at Haydock by 57 lengths in November’s Betfair Chase was outstanding, especially considering his opponents included Cue Card and Outlander. He had a bad run at the King George, but has later been found to have stomach ulcers. 22/1 are the odds offered for him at the moment. Tempting if he can recover.

 

Below is a guide to the ante-post betting favourites for the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup:

 

Horse: Best Odds/Bookmaker*: Trainer: Probable Jockey: Notes:
Might Bite 7/2 (William Hill) Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville An incredible 2017 culminated in King George VI Chase win.
Sizing John 7/1 (Sporting Bet) Jessica Harrington Robbie Power Last year’s Gold Cup Winner.
Coney Island 10/1 (Ladbrokes) Eddie Harty Barry Geraghty Won his only race outside of Ireland – at Ascot in December.
Road to Respect 11/1 (William Hill) Noel Meade Sean Flanagan Has beaten Yorkhill twice in the last 12 months.
Native River 12/1 (William Hill) Colin Tizzard Richard Johnson Was among the favourites for last year’s Gold Cup. Finished 3rd.
Our Duke 12/1 (Stan James) Jessica Harrington Mark Walsh Limped to 7th place when odds-on favourite for Jnwine.com Champion Chase in November.
Bristol De Mai 22/1 (William Hill) Nigel Twiston-Davies Daryl Jacob Won the Betfair Chase at Haydock by 57 lengths. Disappointing run in King George VI Chase soon after.
Disko 25/1 (William Hill) Noel Meade Bryan Cooper Two big wins since coming 3rd to Yorkhill in 2017 JLT Novices’ Chase.

In the Betway Sprint AWT “Hands and Heels” Apprentice Series Handicap (3.30) at Southwell on Tuesday, Archie Stevens won over course and distance three starts ago, off a 5lb lower mark, and his subsequent placed efforts suggest he remains in decent form. Clare Ellam’s 8-year-old is hardly a prolific winner, but has done the bulk of his winning on synthetic surfaces and still looks realistically handicapped in a race that shouldn’t take much winning. He’s ridden by one of the more experienced apprentices in the race, Jonathan Fisher, and the partnership is well enough drawn in stall 7 to show some moderate rivals a clean pair of heels. Frankly, it’s hard to enthuse about anything else in the race so, despite a moderate wins-to-runs ratio, Archie Stevens actually make plenty of appeal.

 

Selection: Southwell 3.30 Archie Stevens to win

 

In the Betway Stayers Handicap (2.55) at Lingfield on Wednesday, Volpone Jelois was beaten just threequarters of a length and a short head over 1 mile 4 furlongs at the Surrey track last week and, stepping back up in distance, looks to have bright prospects of winning his first race on the Flat for Paul Nicholls. The Vol De Nuit gelding won over 1 mile 7 furlongs at Deauville on his final start for Simone Brogi and has run creditably in defeat, over shorter, on all three starts on the Flat since. He races off the same handicap mark as last week so, with Noble Behest making his first start for Robert Stephens after the best part of three months off, he looks the one to be on.

 

 

Selection: Lingfield 2.55 Volpone Jelois to win

 

 

The King George VI Chase is second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in terms of prestigious in the 3m division in the UK and Ireland. This year’s Boxing Day feature at Kempton could be a fantastic renewal as the entries for the race look very strong.

might bite

 

Credit: BHA Press Office via Twitter

 

Last season’s RSA Chase winner Might Bite tops the betting at 7/4 to win the biggest prize of his career so far. As you can see at Timeform, on his seasonal reappearance at Sandown, he scored by eight lengths in a faultless performance as he always looked in control at the Esher-track in the Listed contest.

 

Connections will be hoping their talented chaser can have success in the top graded races outside of novice company. The eight-year-old was prone to the odd mistake last season. In the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on the King George card, he was on course for an emphatic victory before falling at the last fence. The Cheltenham Festival winner also almost threw his large lead away in the RSA Chase when he veered to the right up the hill at Prestbury Park, before jockey Nico De Boinville was able to straighten him up again.

 

Might Bite could face strong opposition from Thistlecrack and Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai at Kempton. Question marks have to be asked about last year’s champion though as he struggled to get home at Newbury on his comeback run. Bristol De Mai, on the other hand, was a 57-length winner at Haydock in the first leg of the Chase Triple Crown; however, he won’t have the luxury of facing such poor opposition this time around.

 

Whisper is a stablemate of Might Bite’s and has some solid form just behind last season’s champion novice. Not only was the nine-year-old second behind the RSA Chase winner at Cheltenham, he also chased him home at Aintree in the Mildmay Novices Chase.

 

After a winning return at Kempton last month, Whisper ran a brilliant race in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury where he finished second, just half a length behind the winner Total Recall. That was an impressive weight-carrying performance and one in which should give his connections the confidence that he could be set for a big season. At 20/1, he looks overpriced to finally beat Might Bite in a Grade One chase.

 

Credit: At The Races via Twitter

 

Politologue proved how much of a versatile chaser he is with victory in the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown recently, where he beat 2m specialist Fox Norton. Paul Nicholls’ runner has already won over 2m5f during his career therefore the King George trip is likely to be well within his reach.

 

At the age of just six, there could be a lot more to come from this grey as his peak years look to be ahead of him. If connections do take a chance in the King George later this month, he would be a huge price at 25/1 to pull off what would be an extraordinary chase double in December.

 

Likeliest winner: Might Bite

 

Value bets: Whisper @20/1 and Politologue @ 25/1

 

 

The Betway Sprint Handicap (1.50) at Southwell on Monday is competitive enough, but Crosse Fire has won seven times at the Nottinghamshire venue and ran as though his turn wasn’t far away on his most recent visit 18 days ago. Scott Dixon’s 6-year-old has been raised 1lb in the weights for finishing third, beaten half a length and the same, behind Midnight Malibu in a similar race over 5 furlongs on that occasion, but remains 2lb lower than when winning over course and distance in April. The Monsieur Bond gelding has been campaigned mainly over 5 furlongs in recent starts, winning over that distance at Beverley in May and Pontefract in July, but has overall form figures of 361514360 over course and distance and it’ll be disappointing if he’s not there or thereabouts once again off what appears to be a workable mark.

 

Selection: Southwell 1.50 Crosse Fire to win   5/1