Cheltenham Festival 2023: Five things to look out for
- This year's Cheltenham Festival takes place from March 14-17
- There is value to be had with the Festival 'bankers'
- Recommended bet: Magical Zoe to win the Jack De Bromhead Mares' Novices' Hurdle
The Cheltenham Festival is starting to loom large on the horizon once more and the Cotswolds showpiece is already loitering in the consciousness of racing fans.
This year, 'the greatest show on turf' takes place from Tuesday, March 14 until Friday, March 17 at the famous Prestbury Park arena in the Gloucestershire countryside.
As the biggest event in racing creeps ever closer, here are five things to watch out for at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival.
Safety net with the 'bankers'
In the run up to Cheltenham there is one thing sure to garner plenty of attention, column inches and chatter at preview nights — the Festival 'bankers'.
That is, those horses deemed to be carrying the strongest hopes of punters heading into the four days in the Cotswolds — with varying degrees of punting 'certainty' attached to their claims.
This year, there is an even spread to the banker list, in terms of those coming from Britain and Ireland, ensuring punters on both sides will be temporarily united.
History tells us that the Festival 'bankers' may not all win — some will fall asunder on the big occasion.
With the LiveScore Bet Cheltenham Festival 2023 'Bankers' Special market, punters can choose how many of these hotpots to have onside.
They are: Facile Vega (Supreme Novices' Hurdle), Jonbon (Arkle), Constitution Hill (Champion Hurdle), Energumene (Champion Chase), Lossiemouth (Triumph Hurdle) and Galopin Des Champs (Gold Cup) and it is a tempting 6/4 chance with LiveScore Bet that any four of the six are successful.
Can Honeysuckle give Constitution Hill a scare?
Ahead of this jumps season, all talk centred on the perceived heavyweight clash between two-time defending Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle and rising star of the game Constitution Hill.
Things have taken a different path since the action got started. Henry De Bromhead's outstanding mare was beaten for the first time on her comeback and needs to rebound in the Irish Champion Hurdle on February 5 if she is to book her date with Constitution Hill.
Nicky Henderson's inmate, who broke the track record winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last March, has looked astonishingly good in his Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle wins and is the new star on the block.
Can anything trouble him come March 14? Well it is 12/1 with LiveScore Bet that Honeysuckle can win both the Irish Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle for the third year running.
Galopin to get Cheltenham redemption
Galopin Des Champs has only suffered one defeat in his chasing career so far.
And that came at this meeting last year when he had the Turners Novices' Chase sown up only to slither away after the final fence and knuckle to the ground under Paul Townend.
Willie Mullins' star has answered every call since and is the 6/4 favourite with LiveScore Bet to get some Cheltenham compensation by winning the Gold Cup, which takes place on St Patrick's Day this year.
Will Irish eyes be smiling on March 17 in the Cotswolds amphitheatre?
Britain's confidence level rising
After the 2021 'greenwash' that saw Irish-trained winners outscore their British counterparts by a whopping 23-5, last year was a more even scrap, the raiding party in front 18-10 at the finish.
This year, the home team should have reason to see an even closer contest again. Day one currently sees British-trained hotspots in the Arkle, Champion Hurdle and Mares' Hurdle — while the Ultima Handicap Chase has been won by British horses every year since 2006.
Day two is also set to kick start with Hermes Allen, at 5/2 with LiveScore Bet, carrying strong British hopes for champion trainer Paul Nicholls in the Ballymore.
This time around, Britain's runners will be at least hoping to get to the dozen marker — and maybe more.
Magical moment in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle?
Cheltenham in March has a wonderful knack of pulling at the heartstrings like no other event in racing.
This year, the third afternoon will feature the specially renamed Jack De Bromhead Mares' Novices' Hurdle — named in honour of trainer Henry's teenage son after he tragically lost his life in a pony-racing accident in September.
Race sponsor Michael O'Leary showed his compassion in making the gesture to rename the contest and it would be quite something if De Bromhead and his closest ally Rachael Blackmore could win the race.
Magical Zoe looked good in winning a Grade 3 at Down Royal in November and was immediately earmarked for this race.