Cup & Saucer
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic
Zenyatta Stakes Day
Awesome Again Stakes
Woodward Stakes Day
The Cheltenham Festival is now just three months away, many of the stars have begun to make their appearances and several of the markets are beginning to form for the key races. That being said, which are the top horses to look out for this national hunt racing season? One of the key events in the racing calendar is the King George which looks to be one of the most anticipated races of the season. The King George odds have Might Bite as the current favourite so the ultra-talented horse has, of course, made the select list below.
The first star to make the list is one of the most exciting horses in training, Altior has now won an amazing 11 times in a row and dominated since his defeat back in 2015. Altior went into the Arkle at last year’s Festival as the one of the shortest priced runners over the four days at odds of 1/4. Although fairly workman-like, he won the race by 6 lengths. Altior then followed up in Celebration Chase at Sandown. He was set to make his reappearance over Christmas in the Tingle Creek but has had a setback so his next target is under consideration as all roads lead to the Champion Chase. Betfair currently make Altior their 7/4 favourite for the race.
Along with Walk in the Park, Douvan is the current highest rated horse in training with an RPR high of 178. Douvan had looked almost unbeatable over 2 miles having defeated the now Gold Cup winner Sizing John easily on numerous occasions. He had won all 14 starts for the Mullins team before last year’s Champion Chase, so was expected to extend his winning run. However, Douvan incurred an injury mid race and was beaten for the first time for connections. Douvan is now on a comeback trail as he looks to re-establish himself as one of the stars of the current era.
The now nine year old Faugheen is without a doubt one of the greatest champion hurdlers in history and can be talked about in the same breath as the likes of Istabraq. He has won 13 of his 14 starts only being beaten once by his stable mate Nichols Canyon, due to the horse having a fitness advantage over the reappearing Faugheen. Faugheen had been out injured for over 600 days until recently, he returned and dominated a decent field to win by 16 lengths effortlessly. Betfair now make the star hurdler their 13/8 favourite and if he can back up that run, those odds will look incredible come March.
Might Bite is one of the most exciting horses in training following an incredible recent season. Sired by Scorpion, it comes as no surprise that the horse has its quirks and gave supporters a near heart attack after somehow getting back up in the RSA after drifting off the track. Might Bite has returned with a dominant display over experienced horses which has set him up perfectly for the King George. Many King George predictions have Might Bite as the expected winner against last year's winner Thistlecrack who is also on a comeback mission following injury at the latter end of the season.
Samcro extended his record to 5 from 5 recently and also further enhanced his already impressive reputation. The apple of his trainer’s eye, Samcro is possibly the most exciting novice in training. Following his easy victory over a high-class field, it warranted the bookmakers to take cover as he’s now been made favourite for all novice races at the Cheltenham Festival. The Ballymore Novices Hurdle will be the more likely target for Samcro, and Betfair make the star horse just 2/1 for the race. Considering Jack Kennedy was quoted saying ‘best feel I’ve ever got from a horse’, it comes as no surprise. Previous connections have also voiced their opinion that the horse is a Gold cup winner in waiting so he’s definitely one to watch ahead of future engagements.
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