With the fields beginning to take shape for National Hunt’s biggest meeting, the clear favourites are starting to emerge in the betting.
But there could well be some value in taking on some of the shorter-odds runners.
Here are three favourites to lay at Prestbury Park this time around.
Easysland – Cross Country Chase
Easysland introduced himself to the racing world with a bang, beating dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll by 17 lengths in last year’s Cross County Chase.
However, the seven-year-old has only seen once this season and was bitterly disappointing in November’s edition of this contest.
David Cottin also has entered stablemate Ajas, who was won three of his five starts over fences this season and looks a potential threat.
With Tiger Roll heading back to Cheltenham one more time and 2019 Welsh Grand National winner Potters Corner also entered, it could be a significantly tougher task for Easysland this time around.
Kilcruit – Champion Bumper
Kilcruit looked a talent when stylishly cruising home to win the Grade 2 Bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival, with the six-year-old being effectively slashed from 10/1 to 11/8 for the Festival’s feature flat race.
However, there is one statistic for the Champion Bumper that stands out in regards to his trainer – Willie Mullins’ last five winners have all been double-digit SPs.
Take last year’s edition as an example. Appreciate It was the clear market favourite, but it was 11/1 shot Ferny Hollow that would go on to win it for the Closutton trainer.
Mullins isn’t afraid to send more than one contender to this race. The 14-time Irish Champion Trainer had three runners in 2020 and five runners in 2018, which saw 25/1 outsider Relegate land the spoils.
With the likes of Grangee, Belle Metal, Deploy the Getaway and Ramillies possibly heading to this contest for Mullins, laying Kilcruit could have its advantages.
Shishkin – Arkle Chase
Shishkin has been near-perfect since transitioning to fences this season and he could well continue that strong run of form in the Arkle Chase.
However, as well as he may have performed in his three chase starts, the seven-year-old has not really faced a real challenger.
Nicky Henderson’s star will be going up against the likes of rapidly improving Energumene and gritty battler Allmankind at Cheltenham, which will require last year’s Supreme winner to be at his best.
He could outshine them both, but the worry of not facing a tough contender previously does raise questions.
Taking on Shishkin can be considered a bold move, but it could well be worth some value at this current stage.