Cheltenham Tips – Best Bets at the International Meeting this December

A wonderful view of the stands as runners perform in front of a packed crowd

A wonderful view of the stands as runners perform in front of a packed crowd

Best Tips for Cheltenham December meeting

The 2-day International meeting at Cheltenham continues the winter-long build up to the National Hunt festival in March with some top class racing. The betting highlight of the opening day is the Unibet Handicap Chase. Last year’s Friday card featured a victory for subsequent Glenfarclas Cross Country festival winner Easysland. Nicky Henderson was in double form with Chantry House and Pym, the former going on to be placed in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Henderson was also among the winners on day 2 last year as he landed a treble through Mister Fisher, Call Me Lord and Dame De Compagnie. Call Me Lord dented the Champion Hurdle hopes of stable companion Pentland Hills in the International Hurdle. Dame De Compagnie did not return to the racetrack until the festival when landing the Coral Cup as the gambled-on 5-1 favourite. The featured Caspian Caviar Gold Cup was won by David Pipe’s Warthog who stepped up on his third place in November’s BetVictor Gold Cup.

Friday 11th December tips

There will be eight races at Cheltenham on Friday following the re-scheduling of the Peterborough Chase (1.50) from last weekend’s abandoned Huntingdon card. Top Notch will bid for a third victory in the race, remarkably at three different tracks with his first success in 2017 having been at Taunton in another re-scheduled running.

His possible rivals include stable companion Mister Fisher who is ground dependant and the Venetia Williams-trained Fanion D’Estruval. Mister Fisher was well beaten in soft ground in the BetVictor Gold Cup and could run here in preference to Saturday’s Caspian Caviar. Fanion D’Estruval looked an exciting prospect when bolting up at Newbury a year ago and made an encouraging reappearance at the November meeting here.

Al Dancer and Master Tommytucker, prominent in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup betting, have also been entered here. Al Dancer came out on top when the two clashed at Newton Abbot in October and ran with great credit in the BetVictor Gold Cup.

The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at 3.00 could feature the first four home in the corresponding race from November. Kingswell Theatre came out on top from Beau Du Brizais, Potters Corner and odds-on favourite Easysland. Welsh Grand National winner Potters Corner ran well on ground much faster than he likes and all roads lead to Aintree for him this season. Jessica Harrington’s Neverushacon defied 11st 11lbs last time and sneaks in here with just 10st 1lb. He has struggled to see out the trip on previous Cheltenham visits and Potters Corner looks a safer proposition.

Another Irish raider with sound claims is Court Maid in the Unibet Handicap Chase at 2.25, trained by Thomas Mullins. The mare won a valuable handicap chase at Fairyhouse last month by 13 lengths and a 5lbs penalty may not prevent a follow up.

Saturday 12th December tips

Chantry House is set to make his second appearance over fences in the 12.40. He was third in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle behind stable companion Shishkin and made a pleasing debut over the larger obstacles at Ascot. 

Duffle Coat and Adagio, first and second in the Triumph Hurdle Trial in November, could renew rivalry in the opener at 12.05. The winner earned a 16-1 quote for the Festival after staying on best in testing conditions. Adagio is one of several to hold alternative entries in Friday’s Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster.

Danny Kirwan represents the Paul Nicholls stable in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at 2.25. He got off the mark over hurdles at the fifth attempt at Ascot last month when beating Time Flies By. This will be a real stamina test over three miles and preference is for Gordon Elliott’s Fakiera who stayed on strongly to win over two and a half miles at Navan.

The two feature races are the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at 1.50 and the International Hurdle at 3.00 (see our big race previews).