The Cheltenham Festival is on the horizon once again, with the 2023 renewal of the prestigious meeting set to take place in the Cotswolds between 14-17 March, and many punters will have already placed their fair share of ante-post bets in order to get the best value.
Some of the most popular selections in the horse racing latest odds are those returning to the scene of their triumphs last year, with several big names set to either defend their respective crowns or make the step up from the novices’ contests to the Championship races.
That said, read on as we take a look at some of the horses vying for back-to-back victories at the Festival.
Arguably the banker of the entire Cheltenham Festival, it appears to be more a matter of how many lengths Constitution Hill will win the Champion Hurdle by as opposed to if the Nicky Henderson-trained horse will win the day one feature.
The six-year-old was one of the standout performers last year, winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by 22 lengths from stablemate Jonbon, and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to get close to Constitution Hill at Prestbury Park again this year as he’s never won by less than 12 lengths under rules.
The case for Marie’s Rock has become a bit more complicated in the last month. The Henderson-trained eight-year-old was expected to defend her Mares’ Hurdle crown in the third Grade 1 on the opening day, but with Honeysuckle’s connections now using that race as the legendary horse’s swansong, that is up in the air.
The veteran trainer has since claimed that the Stayers’ Hurdle on day three is an option for the Middleham Park Racing-owned star, where she is the third favorite at 9/2 behind Teahupoo and Blazing Khal. The betting would suggest Marie’s Rock will fare better in the Mares’ race at 10/3.
Last year, the Champion Chase was billed to be another cracker between Energumene and Shishkin after their meeting at Ascot earlier in the season. However, that didn’t pan out as the latter pulled up, and the former eventually won by more than eight lengths.
Energumene is being backed to retain his crown, but he’s less than a convincing favorite after his most recent out at Cheltenham — jumping poorly before finishing third behind Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone. The Mullins-trained horse is tipped to reverse the form on those two, but it will take a much better run.
One of the only horses we can think of in recent memories that have been booed when crossing the line at Prestbury Park, Delta Work ruined the swansong of his stablemate and fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned horse Tiger Roll in the Cross Country last year.
The 10-year-old is heavily expected to retain his crown in the latest renewal of the three-mile, six-furlong contest. However, with the news that his stablemate Galvin is being trained for the Cross Country Chase, Delta Work could get a taste of his own medicine.
A Plus Tard
Flooring Porter is on the hunt for a third Stayers’ Hurdle victory in succession, but since the Gavin Cromwell-trained horse has fallen back to fourth favorite in the betting, we have skipped forward to the Gold Cup — where A Plus Tard will be hoping to retain the Blue Riband from Galopin Des Champs and co.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained nine-year-old hasn’t had the ideal preparation for the defense of his crown, pulling up on his only appearance at Haydock before suffering an injury in the trailer en route to Leopardstown for the Savills Chase in December. He’s been kept fresh for this race since, and De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore remain confident in his ability.