Three Friday Horses To Follow At Cheltenham
March 14, 2019
Time flies when you’re having fun.
We’re already looking ahead to Friday’s action, but rather than pick out a load of heavily fancied favourites, we’ve dug a little deeper and picked a couple of runners at big prices.
Pentland Hills – Triumph Hurdle @ 16/1 with Black Type
It’s all well and good with these millionaire owners banging in winners at Cheltenham, but racehorse ownership is really starting to rely on syndicates right now and it would be great to see one get in the winner’s enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival.
I actually have shares in horses with the Owners Group and they have Pentland Hills going in the Triumph Hurdle for the group’s first-ever Festival runner. The likes of Alcala, Champagne Express and more recently Getaway Trump have shown promise, but as of yet, none have been good enough to make it to the big meeting.
Pentland Hills will fly the flag in that respect, and he’d have an each-way chance in what is always a great race for catching some potential stars of the future, just think Tiger Roll in 2014.
Trained by Nicky Henderson, Pentland Hills showed plenty of class on his only start for the yard when winning by 14 lengths at Plumpton. This will obviously be a lot tougher, but he certainly caught the eye that day and would be worth a market check.
Native River – Gold Cup @ 4/1 with Boyle Sports
Presenting Percy has been aimed at this since winning the RSA Chase last season, but he could be found wanting. I thought his seasonal debut was only workmanlike and didn’t really do enough for me to back him at his current price.
Native River has run right up to form all season with strong efforts in the Betfair Chase and the King George Chase at Kempton, both on tracks that doesn’t suit his style and I’d say he was better value, if you do want to back one of the market leaders.
He wants soft ground, which is pretty much guaranteed this week and if anybody can slog it out over this distance when the mud is flying, it’s very much Native River. He’d pretty much ran Might Bite into the ground in similar conditions when winning the Gold Cup last year and things seem to be panning out for the same thing to happen again.
Nobody has won back to back Gold Cup’s since Best Mate in the early 2000’s, but Native River looks to have the class to bring that barren run to an end.
Pacha Du Polder – Foxhunters @ 20/1 with Betfred
It seems like an obvious choice to go with Pacha Du Polder for the Foxhunters, which is why I can’t quite understand why he’s such a big price.
He’s taken the last two renewals of this race and should arguably have had a hat-trick if it hadn’t had been for Olympian Victoria Pendleton being in the saddle. He’s come under the radar in each of those wins and it seems to be a similar case this time around.
Yes, he didn’t perform to his best at Haydock last time, but he put on a similar display in his last run before winning the Foxhunters last year. That shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
His trainer Paul Nicholls has made no secret of the fact that he will go for this again and with jockey Harriet Tucker now back in good health after an injury, you get the feeling they’ll be determined to make this a memorable third Foxhunters success.
Find all your Cheltenham Festival betting odds here
As a qualified sports journalist, Luke has worked with nationally-recognised outlets covering events from the World Cup to the Grand National. Luke is one of the few men who has to admit that their father was the better footballer, but at least he can take comfort from the fact he got to see his Dad score at Wembley. When Luke isn’t talking football, you’ll normally find him following his other passion, horse racing and has his own horses in training with Paul Nicholls and Mark Johnston.