With the last of the mince pies barely consumed, thoughts are already turning to spring, and it is only a few short weeks till one of the most popular events in the National Hunt calendar, the Cheltenham Festival. Runners and riders are still to be confirmed for all but the showpiece event, but the rumour mill is going full pelt, particularly in the wake of some telling performances at Kempton last week.
Two to watch from the Honeyball Stables
Anthony Honeyball had a productive weekend, with an impressive performance from Fountains Windfall in the 32Red.com Handicap Chase. The eight year old gelding, ridden by Aidan Coleman, romped home by nine lengths and was the class of the field. Honeyball is looking to make the most of the horse’s novice year, and is predicting big things for the future. He told reporters he looks like being “a grade one horse.”
Another from the Honeyball stable that seems likely to take the 100 mile ride trip from Dorset to Cheltenham is Ms Parfois. The seven year old mare has been blowing away the competition more often than not, with five wins in her last seven races. The most recent was the Hampton Novice’s Chase at Warwick on 13 January, with a comfortable five length win under jockey Sean Bowen. Honeyball feels Ms Parfois is ready to take things to the next level.
Place your bets
Either or even both horses are likely to be entered in the RSA Chase on Wednesday 15 March, and given her form, Ms Parfois is certain to attract the interest of punters. However, it is Friday’s showpiece event, the Cheltenham Gold Cup that will really be grabbing the headlines. Keep watching online to get these Cheltenham odds as they develop and evolve over the coming weeks.
Last year, 7/1 shot Sizing John won a dramatic event, after the 3/1 favourite collided with the penultimate fence while leading, and trainer Jessica Harrington has been single minded in having him in tip top condition to defend his title. He is currently being quoted at around 5/1 by most bookmakers to do just that.
Those odds place him as second favourite for victory, behind the impressive Might Bite. Bookmakers edged the nine year old gelding ahead in the odds after an impressive win at the King George VI Chase in Kempton last month, and most are now offering around 3/1.
Trainer Nicky Henderson is full of confidence, but it is tempered with the knowledge that anything can happen in racing. He said: “We have got to behave ourselves at Cheltenham. Cheltenham is a different ball game and he will probably want to go right."
While the above two are the bookmaker favourites, those looking for a realistic outside shot could do worse than to place a pound or two on Disko. The seven year old is well rested after his last outing at Down Royal in November, where he coasted to victory. Odds of 20/1 could be too good to refuse.