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2019 Cheltenham Festival ante-post tips – Each-way Yankee for punters to keep an eye on

Jonathan Vine in Tips 19 Sep 2018
Getaway Katie Mai (right) winning at Aintree last season

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting markets for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and highlights four bets than punters could roll into an each-way Yankee.

As the flat racing season starts to wind down over the next few weeks, the jumps will once again rise to prominence, much to the delight of National Hunt racing fans. Cheltenham racecourse will host the first major meeting of the new jumps racing season at the end of October, setting many horses on their path towards the showpiece event in all of horse racing, the historic Cheltenham Festival during the spring.

There are many months between now and the Cheltenham Festival. There will be twists and turns aplenty along the way, making it very difficult to place ante-post bets for the Festival – especially when non-runner no bet rules don’t come into place until the New Year. Never the less, our expert has been unable to contain his excitement for the new season and he’s put together this each-way, ante-post Yankee for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

2019 Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post Yankee

12/3/19 14:10pm Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 2m

There’s plenty of conjecture about which path Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown will send SAMCRO down on next season, with novice chasing and the Champion Hurdle both being taken into consideration. 

Samcro was so impressive over hurdles last season – despite that fall at Punchestown – so you can see why the team may be considering keeping him over the smaller obstacles. Yet, anyone who gazes upon Samcro in the flesh can see he’s built for fences and the Arkle could be the perfect target to aim for at the end of his novice chasing campaign.

Elliott’s six-year-old looked extremely comfortable over two-mile-five when winning the Ballymore at Cheltenham and he beat Elegant Escape over three miles in a point-to-point back in 2016. However, to win over two miles at Cheltenham – especially over fences – you have to be able to stay two-and-a-half miles. Elliott clearly feels he has the pace to challenge the best hurdlers over the minimum distance and, when you combine that acceleration with his extra staying power, the Arkle looks a perfect fit.

13/3/19 14:10pm RSA Insurance Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 3m

Novice chasing was the aim for TOPOFTHEGAME at the start of last season, but after an early tumble on his first start over fences, Paul Nicholls immediately dropped his gelding back to hurdling. That proved to be a shrewd move, with Topofthegame winning the valuable Heroes Handicap at Sandown, while placing in Listed company and finishing a close second in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.

You have to see this six-year-old in person to truly appreciate his size and stature. Topofthegame is a giant of a horse, making his return to the novice chasing ranks inevitable in 18/19. The JLT Novices’ Chase is an option, but Topofthegame looks to have a fantastic engine and plenty of class to boot. The RSA would be a realistic end-of-season objective. 

Topofthegame (left) finishing second in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.

14/3/19 13:30pm JLT Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 2m4f

For me, one of the most impressive novice performances of last season was ON THE BLIND SIDE’S victory in the Winter Novices’ Hurdle. Nicky Henderson’s charge was forced to carry a penalty into that Group Two after cruising to victory in the Hyde at Cheltenham, but that seemed to spur the five-year-old on at Sandown, as he and Nico de Boinville trounced decent field to claim a second successive Group Two by almost ten lengths.

On The Blind Side was my each-way selection in the JLT at Cheltenham last year, before injury struck and ruled Henderson’s youngster out of the Festival. He was then backed into favouritism on his return at Aintree, but On The Blind Side looked rusty and well below his best when finishing sixth behind Black Op in the Mersey.

Like Topofhtegame and Samcro, On The Blind Side is a powerful gelding with plenty of scope, who should take to chasing like a duck to water. Henderson has only ever raced his gelding over two-and-a-half miles under rules, so the JLT looks a natural target for a horse with bundles of ability.

14/3/19 16:50pm Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m2f

After losing out narrowly to future Champion Bumper winner Relegate, GETAWAY KATIE MAI was backed into favouritism for the mares’ bumper at Aintree. It looks for much of the race that the weight of expectation was hampering John Queally’s girl and Jamie Codd was throwing out warning signs left, right and centre with half a mile still to travel.

Lesser horses might have thrown in the towel at that point and been content to suffer defeat – but not Getaway Katie Mai. The favourite responded to pressure magnificently, battling back from the rear of the field to eventually win that Group Two by two lengths.

From the eulogistic way I just described that performance, it’s plain to see how impressed I was with the battling qualities Getaway Katie Mai showed at Aintree. John Queally might not be a name synonymous with Cheltenham Festival success but, if she conducts herself over jumps the way she did on the flat, Getaway Katie Mai could be a serious Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle contender.

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2019 Cheltenham Festival ante-post tips – Each-way Yankee for punters to keep an eye on

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting markets for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and highlights four bets than punters could roll into an each-way Yankee on Wednesday 19th September.

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