3 Cheltenham Festival Favourites To Take On At Prestbury Park

3 Cheltenham Festival Favourites To Take On At Prestbury Park
15:51, 19 Feb 2019

We are only three weeks away from the Cheltenham Festival getting under way on March 12, and National Hunt fans are gearing up for a stunning treat of top class equine action at Prestbury Park.

The elite of the British Jumps scene will lock horns with the premier Irish-trained runners throughout the four days, while the punters and bookmakers will do battle off course and serve up a magnificent sideshow.

As the ante-post markets begin to take shape, there will be some horses at the top of the market that are worth taking on and we pick out THREE current favourites that could struggle to dominate their respective races and worthy of taking on.

1. Buveur D'Air - Champion Hurdle - Shortest Price Available Is 13/8

Nicky Henderson's Buveur D'Air is set to try and emulate the mighty Istabraq on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival as the JP McManus-owned raider bids for a third Champion Hurdle crown in a row.  However, the Seven Barrows inmate has shown some vulnerabilities this season and could face some top-class rivals on March 12.

Beaten by stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park, Buveur D'Air bounced back to winning ways with a facile win in the Contenders Hurdle last time out, but he showed signs of not being at the peak of his powers when just edging out Melon in the Champion Hurdle last season and his dominance could end in three weeks time.

Apple's Jade and Laurina are two sensational mares likely to head to the Champion Hurdle, and both will be in receipt of weight from Buveur D'Air and Apple's Jade, in particular, has shown some sensational form this season and with the Mares' Hurdle now on the back-burner then she could be a real contender for the Champion Hurdle.

2. Defi Du Seuil - JLT Novices' Chase - Shortest Price Available Is 3/1

A fine winner of the 2017 Triumph Hurdle, Defi Du Seuil failed to sparkle over hurdles last season.  However, the Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old has been a revelation over fences this season and is currently heading the betting for the JLT Novices' Chase.

Last seen winning the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown Park, Defi Du Seuil beat Lostintranslation and Vinndication in fine fashion that day, but he is awfully short in the betting for a horse that was beaten in the Dipper Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.

The JLT has a murky look to it with many of the prominent figures doubly engaged in either the Arkle or the RSA, but there are a plethora of contenders that could potentially have more scope over fences in the spring, so the Hobbs charge is worth taking on.

3. Presenting Percy - Cheltenham Gold Cup - Shortest Price Available Is 11/4

Will we see Presenting Percy run over fences before the Cheltenham Gold Cup?  That is the million dollar question on all racing fans' lips as we head into the final countdown for the Cheltenham Festival, but news has emerged that he could be seen again at the weekend.

An eye-catching winner of the Galmoy Hurdle last month, Presenting Percy is bidding for a third Cheltenham Festival win (won 2017 Pertemps & 2018 RSA Chase).  Electric in both of those festival victories there's no doubting Presenting Percy's class, but in a wide open division could he prove to come up a little short to a race-fit rival.

If Pat Kelly doesn't decide to run Presenting Percy before the Gold Cup then that could hinder his chances and with Clan Des Obeaux showing his class in recent months with wins in the King George VI Chase and Denman Chase then he could well outbattle the Irish raider in the closing stages, while you can't discount last year's Gold Cup hero Native River.