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Horse racing tips and best bets: Cheltenham Festival countdown builds excitement

Johnny Ward
·2-min read
Ryan Hatch riding Blaklion (Getty Images)
Ryan Hatch riding Blaklion (Getty Images)

With just a week remaining in the months-long countdown to the Cheltenham Festival, punters are assessing their antepost books, sussing out if any value remains in the long-term markets and mainly getting excited.

It has been a difficult lead-up to the Festival in terms of the sport under scrutiny but its superstars and the animals involved should ensure that racing gets a fair hearing next week. And before all of that, we have some decent midweek cards to mull over.

At Exeter on Tuesday, some trainers with key hopes in the top races next week in Colin Tizzard, Philip Hobbs and Paul Nicholls have runners in the Join Racing TV Now Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (2.40). Victor Dartnall may take this with Run To Milan, who lost a shoe on his comeback run at Fakenham and is now very well-treated on old form. He is still lightly raced at the age of nine.

The bet of the day goes in the opening Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Novices' Hurdle (12.30). Another son of Milan, Valsheda, ran a perfectly nice race on his debut at Doncaster, the form of which worked out nicely, and he can make up for lost time for Nicky Henderson.

The big race of the day is up north, with Newcastle's QuinnBet Handicap Chase (3.20) attracting just six runners, including the veteran Blaklion. This is a desperately tough puzzle and She'sasupermack is a hopeful choice despite finishing last of four at Uttoxeter.

Gary Moore had 11 initial entries for the Fontwell card on Wednesday, including Casa Loupi, who has had the misfortune of twice bumping into Tritonic so far, in the MansionBet MerryCheltmas Maiden Hurdle (2.32). He looks more than good enough to win a race of this nature.

The MansionBet At Fontwell Park Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase (3.02) is really competitive at the West Sussex venue. Martha Brae gave it a good go at Hereford last time and the daughter of Shirocco must have a strong chance if building on that.

There is plenty of action across the all-weather tracks over the days ahead, with Newcastle's fixture on Thursday pivoting around the Bombardier British Hopped Amber Beer Fillies' Handicap (7.00), which is relatively uncompetitive on entries.

Toronado Queen looks one of the most likely to run to her mark, as she did the last twice, and she travels really well in her races. She looks a bit of value against higher-rated foes.

Racing coverage is brought to you in association with Betfair. Build your free bet pot for Cheltenham with Betfair. Bet £20 across UK & Irish racing, Get £10 free bet on the Cheltenham Festival. Runs every Saturday. Terms: Min £20 in Exch bets on Saturday races, excludes ante-post. Max £10 free bet per qualifying day, awarded 15/03. Betfair Rewards ‘Basic’ customers excluded. T&Cs apply