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Two weeks until Cheltenham: Two big-priced runners to consider for each day’s feature race at the Festival

Eight top-class contenders to consider for the big races

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Sharjah and Patrick Mullins winning at Leopardstown Racecourse in December 2020

With only a fortnight left to go until the Festival, the anticipation grows as the greatest show on turf edges closer.

With the fields now looking clearer, punters are avidly making their picks for the biggest week in the racing calendar.

The feature races are the pinnacle of each day’s card, and there are bags of talents among the ranks.

Here are two nicely-priced runners to consider for each of the feature races at the Festival.

Tuesday – Champion Hurdle – Sharjah (16/1) + Aspire Tower (20/1)

Tuesday sees a huge clash between Epatante and Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle, but there is some value to be found in some of the Irish runners in the field.

Last season’s runner-up Sharjah leads the Willie Mullins charge in the contest, sitting at an enticing price of 16/1.

The four-time Grade 1 winner could only manage third in the Irish Champion Hurdle last month and is still seeking a first Festival success.

However, he did only three lengths behind Epatante last season and is worth some value if the eight-year-old can produce another big run here at Cheltenham.

Another outsider to consider for this contest is Henry De Bromhead’s Aspire Tower, who is currently valued at 20/1.

The ex-flat runner finished second in last season’s Triumph Hurdle, before going on to land the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle at Down Royal in October.

It will take a bold effort to challenge the superstars in this contest, but the five-year-old can still improve and has a big race in him.

Wednesday – Champion Chase – Sceau Royal (20/1) + Notebook (33/1)

The second day of the Festival sees Chacun Pour Soi make his festival debut in the Champion Chase, but his short price can be a deterrent to back the superstar.

Sceau Royal may not have the best form at Cheltenham, but his recent performances could make his 20/1 price tag of some interest.

The nine-year-old bounced back from a fall in the Desert Orchid Chase in December to beat Champ in the Game Spirit Chase last month.

Sceau Royal finished third in the Champion Chase back in 2019, finishing behind Altior and next year’s winner Politolouge

Alan King’s chaser came third in this contest back in 2019 and he has each-way appeal for this year’s renewal.

Out of the remaining Irish contenders, Notebook has shown some progress this season and can very well hint at some each-way value at 33/1.

Henry De Bromhead’s runner returned to winning ways on his seasonal reappearance in the Poplar Square Chase, but has been beaten by Chacun Pour Soi on his last two starts.

The eight-year-old might not be able to topple Willie Mullins’ star, but he could get himself into the places at a big price.

Thursday – Stayers’ Hurdle – Flooring Porter (14/1) + Paul’s Saga (40/1)

Two big staying talents in Paisley Park and Thyme Hill dominate the market for the Stayers’ Hurdle, but there is some big-priced runners to consider in the field.

Gavin Cromwell’s Flooring Porter has improved with every run this season and looks to be worth some value at 14/1.

The six-year-old saw off the likes of Fury Road and Sire Du Berlais when making all in the Grade 1 Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle.

Can Irish raider Flooring Porter upset British duo Paisley Park and Thyme Hill?

He has shown similarities to Cromwell’s late Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D’Allen, and the gelding could well cause an upset here.

French runner Paul’s Saga is at a tempting price of 40/1, even though her debut run on British soil didn’t go to plan.

Trainer David Cottin said that she needed the run in the Listed St Marys Land Warwick Mares’ Hurdle last month, which she finished 15 lengths behind Molly Ollys Wishes.

A thorough stayers at the three-mile distance, she will receive a 7lbs mares allowance for this contest and could well be overpriced for her Festival debut.

Friday – Gold Cup – Minella Indo (14/1) + Native River (16/1)

The main race of the week will have all eyes on Al Boum Photo, but there are some serious competitors at eye-catching prices in the field.

Minella Indo’s recent performances in Grade 1 company have not been the most convincing, but his Cheltenham form should be not be forgotten.

He landed the Albert Barlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2019 as a 50/1 shot, before coming second to a incredible Champ charge in the RSA Chase last year.

Prestbury Park could be the place where he reverses his current fortunes and at 14/1, Minella Indo could be considered each-way value at least.

2018 Gold Cup winner Native River rolled back the years at Sandown last month, when he stormed clear by nearly 10 lengths to land the rearranged Cotswold Chase.

11-years young! Native River galloped his rivals into submission in the rearranged Cotswold Chase at Sandown last month

The 11-year-old has been quietly performing on his road to Cheltenham, taking third in the Many Clouds Chase before winning his third race in four runs last month.

Colin Tizzard’s veteran has a sparkling partnership with Richard Johnson and the pairing could be an undetected threat in this contest.

If the ground doesn’t dry up, then 16/1 is a generous price tag for Native River.

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