Excitement is building as the biggest four days in the calendar arrives for fans of the jumps. Yes, it's nearly that time of the year. The Cheltenham Festival is just nine days away. For those of you who don't follow racing throughout the season, here are five horses to keep your eyes on.
The first race of the Cheltenham Festival is the Supreme Novices Hurdle, which is always accompanied by the famous Cheltenham roar, as racing gets under way. The favourite for the race is Irish challenger Douvan, who is just one of the many fancied runners from the formidable Willie Mullins team. Mullins has won this race for the past two years and describes Douvan as "as nice a horse as we've ever had going to Cheltenham". Some praise indeed.
Un De Sceaux:
He's a very short price but there's a reason for that, as Un De Sceaux looked every inch a racing superstar with a breathtaking performance at Leopardstown in January. Fast, bold jumping at pace make Un De Sceaux one of the most exciting horses to watch and he could put in a memorable performance over Cheltenham's fences.
The Fred Winter is just one of many fiercely competitive handicap races, however Bouvreuil is one that makes appeal at double-figure odds. Trainer Paul Nicholls often runs very smart horses in this race at an early stage of their career and this appears to be the case here. The form of Bouvreuil's fourth-place at Newbury has worked out well with the 2nd and 6th running out wide-margin winners on their next starts. A mark of 133 leaves Bouvreuil nicely near the bottom of the weights and he looks sure to run a cracker.
The Ryanair Chase is shaping up to be a really exciting renewal, despite the absence of last year's winner Dynaste. Favourite for the race is Don Cossack, who is owned by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud. It would be fantastic for O'Leary to win the race his company sponsors and they have a cracking chance with Don Cossack. Always regarded as a horse of serious potential, he has finally delivered on that potential this season with four wins from four, including the Grade 1 John Durkan Chase. The distance is perfect, the ground will be fine and he jumps for fun.
Peace And Co:
The first race on the final day of the festival is the Triumph Hurdle, which sees Peace And Co as a warm favourite. Nicky Henderson created a huge impression when romping home to a 19-length victory on his English debut at Doncaster. He backed up that performance with a convincing success in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham on Trials Day and looks a more than worthy favourite. The quicker pace of Cheltenham is sure to suit this slick jumping French import and he can get punters off to a good start on Gold Cup day at the festival.
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