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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 26 November 2020

Fab four? The 98/1 accumulator to back in Cheltenham's Championship races

The biggest and best racing week of the year is nearly upon us.

IT’S THE BIGGEST week in racing’s national hunt calendar and everyone in the office or the pub will be looking for a red-hot tip.

Whether you’re knee-deep in the form book or you don’t know your horses from your donkeys, here are the four we fancy to romp home in Cheltenham’s Championship races.

All prices are correct at the time of writing.

Tuesday 14 March — Champion Hurdle, 3.30pm – Petit Mouchoir (6/1)

David Mullins on Petit Mouchoir wins Can Petit Mouchoir get the job done on day one of the festival? Source: lorraineosullivan

Yanworth is the favourite for Tuesday’s feature race, but he’s worth opposing after an unconvincing win in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last month.

He went down fighting to Yorkhill in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival last year and has won his seven other starts over hurdles, so is a worthy favourite, but not one we’re backing.

Instead we’re siding with Irish raider Petit Mouchoir for Henry De Bromhead at 6/1.

The six-year-old showed a fantastic turn of foot in the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas and convincingly beat Nichols Canyon and Ivanovich Gorbatov.

He followed that up with another impressive win in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown and looks like he could improve again.

Wednesday 15 March — Champion Chase, 3.30pm – Douvan (1/4)

Ruby Walsh onboard Douvan clears the last on his way to winning Is Douvan the finest horse in training at the moment? Source: James Crombie/INPHO

All hail Douvan!

He’s not really a working man’s price at 1/4, but he’s certainly the strongest favourite of the week.

He’s won all 13 of his races for Rich Ricci and that includes eight Grade 1s.

He’s never come off the bridle over fences and his official handicap mark rates him seven pounds better than anything else in the field.

The ground won’t be an issue and neither will the famous Cheltenham hill – Douvan has won on all types of ground and has two festival wins to his name already.

It’s one to sit back, admire and enjoy. A horse of a lifetime.

Thursday 16 March — Stayers Hurdle, 3.30pm – Unowhatimeanharry (5/4)

The bet365 Festival - Newbury Racecourse Unowhatimeanharry has improved since moving to Harry Fry's yard. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

A change is as good as a rest as the old saying goes, and that’s certainly been the case for Unowhatimeanharry.

He has thrived since switching to trainer Harry Fry, winning all eight of his races since November 2015, including a couple of Grade 1s.

He keeps on improving and has big victories in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot and the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.

He could be one of the hottest bets for Thursday and is currently priced at 5/4.

Outside this accumulator — and for punters looking for a little more value in the market — Ballyoptic might be worth €1 each-way at 16/1.

He has been second to Unowhatimeanharry on his last three runs, but he was in contention in the Cleeve Hurdle before struggling with the Cheltenham hill.

Ballyoptic’s best form comes on spring ground though, and he could spark into life at the festival next week and give the favourite a scare.

Friday 17 March — Cheltenham Gold Cup, 3.30pm – Native River (4/1)

Betfair Super Saturday - Newbury Races Native River stands a great chance in the Gold Cup. Source: Julian Herbert/PA Wire/PA Images

You can’t hold back the river – and we’re all in on Native River at 4/1 for the main event of the festival.

Trainer Colin Tizzard may be without the early favourite Thistlecrack through injury, but Native River can still give him a Gold Cup success.

The seven-year-old found plenty to win the Hennessy Gold Cup in Newbury in November and then put in an incredible performance to win — carrying a top weight of 11st 12lb — the Welsh Grand National on soft ground.

Following that, he proved he could mix it with the very best by winning the Denman Chase in February and put his name right at the top of our Gold Cup list.

Djakadam will be trying to win the Gold Cup at the third time of asking after two second-place finishes, whilst Cue Card would be a fairytale story after falling in contention 12 months ago.

But both could be blown away by Native River. He travels strongly, attacks his fences, and has plenty of stamina and class. He could top a fantastic week of racing and help get the pints in on Paddy’s Day.

At the time of writing a four-fold of Petit Mouchoir, Douvan, Unowhatimeanharry and Native River pays out at 98/1

Fancy a punt on Cheltenham? Ireland’s biggest bookmaker Paddy Power have the odds on every market – plus money back as a free bet if your horse finishes second in the first five races every day of the festival. Check out our Cheltenham odds here, or simply download the Paddy Power app for iOS or Android.

For more tips, insight and the odd star columnist, head over to the Paddy Power blog.

About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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