Source: Cheltenham Racecourse via Facebook

The 2018 Cheltenham Festival will be here before we know it. Racing fans from all over the UK will travel to Gloucestershire for one of the true highlights of the National Hunt season. This year, the Jessica Harrington-trained Sizing John romped home to secure a famous Gold Cup triumph and we could be set for another exciting battle next year.

Plenty of punters expected Thistlecrack, a former Festival winner over the smaller obstacles, to romp to Gold Cup victory but injury hindered his opportunity to prevail. In 2018, he will be back and fighting fit; Colin Tizzard will be quietly confident of success. We took an early glance at the main event ahead of the Cheltenham Festival; ante post bettors, take note.

Enigmatic Yorkhill Stands A Good Chance

Willie Mullins has a terrible record in this famous race but Yorkhill could end his barren run without a Gold Cup triumph. Winner of the JLT Novices’ Chase this year, Yorkhill is one of the most talented horses in training but he does have a tendency to play up. Ruby Walsh, arguably the greatest jockey in the industry, will get the ride if Mullins decides to aim the 7-year-old at this particular race.

In his most recent outing, Yorkhill was a beaten odds-on favourite at Fairyhouse. It is a no-brainer though, targeting him at the Gold Cup is a must for Mullins; Yorkhill is too talented to settle. At the time of writing, horse racing betting odds show Yorkhill at 8/1 to win the event and many punters will be tempted, given his talent.

Might Bite Has The Stamina

Nicky Henderson had his heart in his mouth when Might Bite started to drift in the closing stages of his RSA Novices’ Chase win at the Festival earlier this year. Not quite as enigmatic as Yorkhill, he does tend to lose focus easily; especially when leading. In a Gold Cup, he may not be afford the luxury of storming off but that could suit Might Bite as he looks to get into an early rhythm.

A favourite with bettors, Might Bite is primed for a shot at the Gold Cup. Nico de Boinville is a superb jockey and he is in decent form in 2017. The Hampshire jockey has won 18.5% of his races so far this year, which includes Might Bite’s famous victory at Cheltenham back in March.

Thistlecrack vs Sizing John: The Big Battle?

And then we have Thistlecrack and Sizing John. The ante post favourite and the defending Gold Cup champion. Whichever way you look at it, we could be set for a mammoth clash at Prestbury Park next year. Thistlecrack, now fresh after his recovery from injury, should go close if he produces his best form; his close defeat to Many Clouds in the Cotswolds Chase will live long in the memory.

But Sizing John, still somewhat of an unknown quantity at the distance despite his exploits earlier this year, might have enough to keep Thistlecrack at bay. As a novice, Thistlecrack was prone to the odd error whilst Sizing John’s jumping is consistent. He is reliable, he is fast and he has stamina; three traits needed to retain the Gold Cup.