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Three weeks until Cheltenham: Three long-priced outsiders that could cause an upset

A French juvenile, a promising mare and a progressing hurdler make the list

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Witness Protection and James Best winning at Chepstow Racecourse

With only 21 days to go until the greatest show on turf, the Cheltenham Festival excitement continues to build for racing fans across the globe.

With the fields starting to take shape, punters are picking apart entry sheets in hope of finding some nicely-priced picks across the four days.

Last season’s Festival saw two big outsiders come out on top, with Lisnagar Oscar winning the Stayers’ Hurdle at 50/1 while It Came To Pass landed the Foxhunter Chase at a whopping 66/1.

Here are three big-priced entries that could spring a surprise at Prestbury Park this year.

Paros – Triumph Hurdle (50/1 – bet365)

An exciting winner on his sole start in France, Paros joined Nicky Henderson’s yard late last year, with the aim of preparing the four-year-old for the Triumph Hurdle.

He disappointed on his first run on British soil, coming fourth in a Juvenile Hurdle at Sandown in December.

However, the gelding can be forgiven for a number of reasons. He had to concede weight all round and was too keen at times, which can be pinned on his inexperience.

With bags of potential, Paros could well develop into an exciting talent. Henderson’s prospect is due to run at Doncaster tomorrow, so he could bounce back to winning ways just before the Festival.

Castra Vetera – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (50/1 – bet365 + William Hill)

A promising mare from Joseph O’Brien’s yard, Castra Vetera could be overpriced for this contest should she run in it.

She made a poor showing in the Grade 3 Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse earlier in the month, with no real explanation why.

However, if the six-year-old’s bumper form is anything to go by, she clearly has potential and that performance could just be down to inexperience.

Joseph O’Brien has two Cheltenham Festival winners as a trainer so far, both arriving in 2019

She looks to be a lover of soft ground, with her sole win over the smaller obstacles coming in those conditions.

If O’Brien decides to take the gamble and head to Cheltenham, then she could be interesting contender in a wide-open field.

Witness Protection – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (66/1 – bet365 + William Hill)

A progressing novice hurdler, Witness Protection caught the eye with a strong performance at Chepstow last month.

He has claimed two successes in his first season over hurdles, and looks a promising sort for the Foxtrot Racing Syndicate.

Trainer Martin Keighley thinks very highly of the eight-year-old, stating that ‘he deserves a step up in class’.

He was entered in a Listed contest at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, but the card was unfortunately abandoned.

If Witness Protection can make the step up in class and continue to progress, he could well be a undetected contender to make the places.

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