On the morning of the Cheltenham Festival, racing fans are beginning to make their selections for the most exciting week in the National Hunt calendar.
Every punter watching the greatest show on turf will be hunting for a runner with promise – and a nice price tag.
Here are our top 10 value picks for the four days of racing action at Presbury Park.
10. Blue Sari – Coral Cup, Wednesday (16/1 @ Various)
Willie Mullins may have only landed one victory in the contest (back in 2018 with Bleu Berry), but the Irish trainer could see Blue Sari run a big race here.
French-bred hurdlers hold a strong record in this contest, with 10 of the last 19 winners originating from the République française.
Runner-up to Envoi Allen in the Champion Bumper two years, the gelding has Cheltenham experience against one of the brightest sparks in National Hunt racing.
The six-year-old has been stepped back up in trip, with his sole victory over hurdles coming at 2m4f where he beat Pertemps Final favourite The Bosses Oscar by half a length.
At 16/1, Blue Sari could be an each-way contender that has flown under the radar.
9. Gowel Road – County Hurdle, Friday (16/1 @ Various)
Originally tilted for the Supreme, Gowel Road throws his hat into the ring of a hotly-contested County Hurdle on Friday.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ novice has shown promise on his four starts over hurdles, finishing a length and a half behind Bear Ghylls on his rules debut.
The five-year-old has comfortably won on his last two starts and sits at an interesting mark of 137, bearing in mind that this contest has seen eight of the last 10 winners rated in the 130s.
It should be noted that only two favourites have won the last 21 renewals of this race, so it shouldn’t be a worry considering a big-priced runner like Gowel Road.
8. Alpha Des Obeaux – Cross County Chase, Wednesday (20/1 @ William Hill)
Alpha Des Obeaux heads to Cheltenham for possibly the final time, as his age looks to be catching up with him.
The 11-year-old’s Cheltenham form is useful, finishing second to Thistlecrack in the 2016 World Hurdle before taking fourth in the RSA Novices’ Chase a year later.
It was mentioned last week that the Gigginstown-owned gelding has been cross country schooling with dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll, with the hope that it would ‘sweeten him up.’
With a 20/1 price tag, the 11-year-old could sneak into the places if he is back to his best.
7. Vintage Clouds – Ultima Handicap Chase, Tuesday (25/1 @ bet365)
A veteran from Sue Smith’s yard, Vintage Clouds enters the Ultima Handicap Chase for the fifth time in his career.
The 11-year-old claimed third in this contest in 2019, before finishing second behind Beware The Bear a year later.
The former Graded winner has struggled this season, but he is now back at a mark of 143, which he won the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase on last season.
Eight of the last nine winners of the Ultima have worn headgear, and with Vintage Clouds wearing cheekpieces, he could well be worth some value at 25/1 if he’s on his game.
6. Blue Lord – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Tuesday (10/1 @ Various)
Willie Mullins holds the favourite in Appreciate It here, but second-string Blue Lord could well be in the mix as well.
A two-mile winner on the flat in France, the six-year-old finished behind both Ballyadam and Appreciate It in the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle but he kept on well in the final stages.
Mullins has seen three French-bred runners win and one runner-up in this contest in the last seven years, which makes the gelding an interesting contender.
Blue Lord could well run a big race at a nice price if he can improve here.
5. Native River – Gold Cup, Friday (14/1 @ Paddy Power + Betfair)
The 2018 Gold Cup winner returns to Prestbury Park, having one more crack at regaining his former title.
Colin Tizzard’s veteran rolled back the years in the Cotswold Chase last month, seeing off Bristol De Mai by 9 ½ lengths.
The 11-year-old is known to be at his best on soft ground, which will decide if he runs in the contest at all.
If there is cut in the ground, then Native River could well be some each-way value at the very least.
4. Aspire Tower – Champion Hurdle, Tuesday (25/1 @ bet365)
A big-priced outsider in Tuesday’s feature race, Aspire Tower could well be an undetected threat in this contest.
The five-year-old recorded an emphatic victory over fellow Champion Hurdle entrant Abacadabras in the WKD Hurdle back in October, before landing a strong second behind Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Henry De Bromhead’s prospect is still open to further improvement, and he could well push his stablemate Honeysuckle all the way here.
3. Shattered Love – Mares’ Chase, Friday (6/1 @ Coral)
The winner of the JLT Novices’ Chase three years ago, Shattered Love returns to Gloucestershire for the inaugural Mares’ Chase at the Festival.
The 10-year-old did finish behind market favourite Elimay in the Listed Opera Hat Mares’ Chase, but the minimum trip is not the ideal distance for Denise Foster’s runner.
The mare will relish the step up back to 2m4f, which she has seen Grade 1 success at this distance.
Shattered Love looks tailor-made for the new contest at the Cheltenham Festival.
2. Mister Fisher – Ryanair Chase – Thursday (8/1 @ Various)
Taking course & distance form into account, Mister Fisher looks a strong selection for arguably the deepest field at this year’s Festival.
The seven-year-old has won twice at Prestbury Park, the latest coming in the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase when he saw off Kalashnikov to win by 1 ¾ length.
A versatile runner on any ground and with age on his side, there is the belief that Nicky Henderson’s chaser has more to offer.
Mister Fisher could produce a big performance with some value here.
1. Flooring Porter – Stayers’ Hurdle. Thursday (7/1 @ Various)
With the withdrawal of Thyme Hill on Friday, the narrative of the Stayers’ Hurdle has swung into Paisley Park’s favour.
However, the imposing threat of Gavin Cromwell’s Flooring Porter could well be one to consider here.
The six-year-old burst onto the scene when seeing off The Bosses Oscar by 12 lengths in a handicap hurdle at Navan in December.
The gelding followed that up with another eye-catching victory, this time in Grade 1 company in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle.
Flooring Porter is rapidly improving and should be a serious challenger to Paisley Park here.