The 2018 Cheltenham Festival will be here before you know it. Every year, thousands of avid racing fans travel to Gloucestershire for one of the biggest National Hunt meetings on the calendar and next season’s edition will be no exception. Although the Champion Hurdle may take pride and place on the Tuesday, the Arkle could turn out to be one of the most exciting races of the week.
The magnificent FINIAN’S OSCAR, trained by Colin Tizzard, is up there at the top of the ante-post betting markets and with good reason. Heading into the 2017 Festival, he was favourite with most bookmakers for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle but was ruled out after suffering a minor injury just days before the meeting. This time around, he will have his chance to show just how good he is on the big stage.
Finian's Oscar figures in plenty of your ante post bets— My Racing Tips (@myracingtips) November 20, 2017
He looked properly impressive the weekend, giving weight to his rivals and still won going away🏇
While the Tizzards feel he's best suited to the Arkle we can't be the only ones thinking the JLT would be perfect for him?🤔 pic.twitter.com/wNrjPYNXp8
FOOTPAD, available at 6/1 with most bookmakers listed on Oddschecker, will take some beating though. The Willie Mullins-trained star finished a respectable fourth behind Buveur D’air in the Champion Hurdle this year and made a winning start over the larger obstacles at Navan in November. He will take some beating if aimed at this race; Mullins has trained the Arkle winner in two of the last three years.
Next up we have NORTH HILL HARVEY. He was simply sublime when beating River Wylde in the Arkle trial at Cheltenham in November and Dan Skelton will be quietly confident of glory at the Festival. Still fairly low in the betting, he may be worth an each-way punt – especially after proving that he is consistent on all types of ground. Keep an eye on North Hill Harvey’s odds in the betting markets.
Last but by no means least, CHARLI PARCS is an interesting candidate. Still very young at just 4 years old, the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding finished sixth in the Triumph Hurdle at the 2017 Festival – around 10 lengths behind superstar Defi Du Seuil. With the right schooling over fences, Charli Parcs could feature prominently if aimed at the Arkle. It would be foolish to write him off just yet...
Who will emerge victorious? Only time will tell. All four of these magnificent horses are in with a decent chance if entered. Finian’s Oscar has the hype, Footpad has the experience and North Hill Harvey is the underdog; it should be a scintillating battle up the famous hill at Cheltenham in March.