Why it’s time to get in early for the Cheltenham Festival

By Simon Clifford.

With the National Hunt season now in full flow, and some of the best trials underway, this week we’re looking at the best ante-post bets for Cheltenham before all the trials are done and dusted, so we have some value bets heading into the Festival in March. We begin with day 1 of the Festival and the Champion Hurdle and The Supreme Novices Hurdle.

Last year’s Champion Hurdle was won by Hurricane Fly, who also won back in 2011. He reappeared recently at Punchestown, winning first time out, but in my mind if he is to go on and win another Champion Hurdle this year then trainer Willie Mullins has a lot of work to do with him.

However, The Fly did take his Grade 1 winning haul to the ridiculous world record number of 17. A big congratulations to Mullins – the man is a genius in getting horses ready for the big day.

But back to the Champion Hurdle; when it comes to raceday, 34 of the last 83 winners were sent off as favourite, only three mares have ever won the race and none in the last 16 years, and one trainer has trained five winners since 1985, Nicky Henderson.

For more see this week’s edition of the Irish World

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