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Brian Lawless Great White Shark and Paul Townend winning the Guinness Handicap Hurdle at last year's Galway Festival.
5 long shots worth a punt in this year's Cheltenham Festival
Johnny Ward picks a selection to keep an eye on over the week.

THE 2021 CHELTENHAM Festival gets underway this week. 

Racing journalist Johnny Ward will be bringing you his best tips over the coming days and we’re starting with five outside bets for you to think about… 

It is important to bet sensibly at all times and it is especially wise at Cheltenham, when the runaway train can take you with it and render you ever more reluctant to get off.

With 28 races, there are plenty of chances for a winner, but if your winner is a big price, it can put you in profit for the week alone.

Keep an eye out for some punter-friendly offers over the week. Here are five selections to consider with a big price in mind with William Hill.

Zoffanien — 12/1 (Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, Tuesday)

It’s quite eye-catching that Richard Johnson was booked for this horse the guts of a week before the race. Band Of Outlaws won this easily two years ago after a prep victory at Naas, the route taken by Denis Hogan’s charge here. He travels really well in his races and has plenty of experience, whilst he jumps slick for a four-year-old.

William Hill goes top five each-way places, adding to the intrigue of the bet, and a rating of 130 looks exploitable. Generally the consensus is that the Irish juveniles are better this year than the British and, whilst speculating, I would tend to think that the case. This horse should relish the demands of this race and is improving.

Great White Shark — 14/1 (Coral Cup, Wednesday) 

Be a little careful here as this one is also entered in the mares’ hurdle, whilst she has been taken out of the stayers’ hurdle. She’s one of the bets of the week in whatever race she goes in my view. She’s trained by Willie Mullins and comes here quite fresh.

After winning her last handicap hurdle at Galway, she easily defied a mark of 86 to win the English Cesarewitch, and was sent off 2/1 favourite to win the Galmoy last time, a Grade 2 contest in which the ground would have been far too heavy for her. This is much more to her liking and she ran a cracker at the Festival last year. William Hill goes top price and five each-way places.

Mengli Khan — 25/1 (Grand Annual Chase, Wednesday) 

Nicky Henderson’s horses should be coming to hand now and Mengli Khan could be one of a scatter of steeds once trained by Gordon Elliott winning for someone else at this Festival. He has run twice at Cheltenham, third in the Supreme Novices’ and third in the JTL, so he clearly likes this course and this is his trip.

The trainer would love to win the race honouring his father and both of this horse’s all-weather runs this year were highly encouraging. He may be under the radar. Worth a punt at 25/1 with five each-way places.

Samcro — 14/1 (Ryanair Chase, Thursday) 

William Hill is a top-quote 14/1 about a horse with an unbeaten record at Cheltenham. The Ballymore hero of 2018 perhaps is not the horse we thought he might be but he was good in beating Melon 12 months ago, travelling strongly, and he’s easily forgiven his runs this season. Coming here fresh on his favoured ground, he is reportedly in great nick. 

Vanillier — 33/1 (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, Friday)

Gavin Cromwell does not run horses in Grade Ones unless he fancies them to some extent, which is telling as this horse was pitched into that level at Leopardstown last time, when he ran no sort of race and returned a sick horse.

His trainer reports him to be much better now and deems him a dark horse for a race in which long shots tend to do well. It looks a really open race this year and this horse showed lots of stamina when second at Limerick at Christmas. He looks well worth a shout at 33/1.

Odds above correct at the time of writing. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see gamblingtherapy.org    

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