Nicky Henderson is preparing for an assault on the final afternoon of Cheltenham Festival 2018, with the decorated trainer holding a strong hand on Gold Cup day, including a number of betting favourites.
His campaign at Prestbury Park took a while to get going this year despite a couple of near misses, including Brain Power, second to odds-on favourite Footpad in the Arkle on Tuesday. That’ll be furthest from the team’s mind as they set up for the highlight of the week in front of a sell-out audience.
Do the Henderson yard have what it takes to delight followers in the main event? Read on for a look at their chances…..
Apple’s Shakira – Triumph Hurdle
We get started with the Triumph Hurdle and Apple’s Shakira has dominated the antepost betting with William Hill traders offering a market best price of 5/2 as the curtain went up on Tuesday. That doesn’t comes as a shock to followers of the four-year-old filly either, as she makes the trip with a 100% record from three starts.
Connections have high hopes for this bay and she proved her worth when completing the hat-trick, winning a trial over 2m at this course in January. Three runs – three wins, all at Cheltenham. She’s difficult to oppose.
Santini – Albert Bartlett
The winner of the Albert Bartlett will be Santini if this race follows the thinking of odds compilers across the country but the market is competitive going in and the prize looks there for the taking. This six-year-old gelding is another with form to burn and he is another boasting a 100% record, pristine from two previous goes.
Santini got the ball rolling with a debut victory at Newbury under the ride of Nico de Boinville, winning a novices’ hurdle over 2m 4f late last year. He followed that with a trip to the winners’ enclosure at Prestbury Park last time, scooping the Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle over the same trip, edging Black Op by the best part of a length. Still relatively unexposed, handlers expect this horse to keep getting better and better.
Might Bite – Gold Cup
Whatever your on in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup betting it promises to be a cracking renewal of one of the nation’s favourite races and there will be plenty happy to sit back and watch the show unfold. For those who prefer to profit from the occasion, bookmakers think Might Bite will take all the beating. The nine-year-old, a product of Scorpion and Knotted Midge, has won nine and placed twice in 14 starts.
Impressive since falling at Kempton in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase late in 2016, he’s pieced together a spectacular winning run, claiming gold in each of his five outings since. That purple patch includes the RSA Novices’ Chase at the festival last year, the grade one Mildmay Novices’ Chase and, best of all, the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Any winner of the latter would surely be favourite in his pick of races at Cheltenham but it wasn’t only the bare result that caught the eye. The way Might Bite was seen sticking to his task in the closing stages of the contest, holding ground to see off the determined challenge of big-price outsider Double Shuffle, won him many new fans. Will they be cheering again?