2021 Cheltenham Festival Tips - Four horses to back after the Dublin Racing Festival
- We pick out four ante-post bets for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival
- All four selections ran at the Dublin Racing Festival this past weekend
- Honeysuckle looks a strong bet in the 2021 Champion Hurdle
- Ballyadam, Fakeira and Latest Exhibition also feature in our Cheltenham tips
Honeysuckle is our best bet in the 2021 Champion Hurdle. (Getty)
What a brilliant weekend of racing we enjoyed at the Dublin Racing Festival. We saw plenty of talented horses write their names in the headlines, and some even enforced their Cheltenham Festival credentials.
We've picked out four horses who impressed during the Dublin Racing Festival that look worthy of backing at the Cheltenham Festival.
2021 Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post Tips
Fakeira - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
Fakiera E/W2021 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Ante-Post TipsGET 8/1 HERE
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Gaillard Du Mesnil looked a class above his rivals when winning the Nathaniel Lacy this weekend, and he'll take on Bravemansgame and Bob Olinger in a fascinating Ballymore. The three who finished immediately behind Gaillard Du Mesnil now sit atop the Albert Bartlett market, and the one I was most taken with was FAKIERA.
Gordon Elliott's charge finished powerfully to run down Fire Attack in the Monksfield Hurdle earlier in the season. Fakiera was then beaten by Ashdale Bob at Navan, but he was forced out wide down the home straight that day, whereas the winner grabbed the perfect position down the inside rail and made the most of it.
Fakiera hit his customary flat spot a mile out on Saturday, and was still ninth turning for home. Yet, he kept finding all the way up the straight, and was only beaten seven lengths in the end.
From the second-last to the line, Jack Kennedy's mount was half-a-second quicker than Gentlemansgame, and almost a full second faster than Stattler, who had both raced on the pace. Stattler is bound to deploy similar tactics in the Albert Bartlett, so it's sure to be run at an honest pace, and Fakiera looks like he's crying out for three miles.
Honeysuckle - Champion Hurdle
Honeysuckle (NRNB)2021 Champion Hurdle Ante-Post TipsGET 9/4 HERE
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One of the most visually impressive performances of the weekend was HONEYSUCKLE'S triumph in the Irish Champion Hurdle. Having battled back to snatch victory on the run to the line 12 months ago, Rachael Blackmore's mount produced a much more dominant display this time around, making all of the running and streaking clear to win by ten lengths.
Four hurdles races took place over two miles at the Dublin Racing Festival, and Honeysuckle set the quickest time - beating the time set by Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle winner, Drop The Anchor by two-and-a-half seconds. What makes that even more impressive is that Honeysuckle made her own running, and was noticeably steadied before the last to ensure she got over it safely.
Connections now say the Champion Hurdle is the Cheltenham Festival target, instead of the Mares' Hurdle. Honeysuckle has just destroyed the best two milers that Ireland has to offer, and Epatante proved she wasn't infallible at Kempton over Christmas.
Honeysuckle's jumping is getting better, and it certainly seems like she's getting quicker. I think she's the one to beat in this year's Champion Hurdle.
Ballyadam - Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Ballyadam2021 Supreme Novices' Hurdle Ante-Post TipsGET 9/1 HERE
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Of the four hurdle races staged over two miles at Leopardstown, Appreciate It's triumph in the Chanelle Pharma was the slowest. Although Willie Mullins' star has won two Grade Ones over the minimum distance now, I don't think he's a natural two miler, and we saw what a speedier sort in Ferny Hollow did to Appreciate It on the run to the line in last year's Champion Bumper.
I was really pleased to see BALLYADAM produce a more competitive display this weekend. Gordon Elliott's Royal Bond winner was beaten 16-lengths behind Appreciate It over Christmas, but returned a dirty scope the day after the race.
As the field turned for home, Ballyadam loomed up for a crack at Appreciate It, and was travelling just as well. Kennedy might have fancied his chances, until a poor jump at the last allowed Appreciate It to get away, and Ballyadam simply couldn't bridge the gap.
Gordon Elliott hasn't enjoyed his finest season so far, but his main target every year is the Cheltenham Festival. Having been sick over Christmas, I doubt Ballyadam will have been full wound-up for this weekend's run, and I'm confident he will be back to his best come the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. At 8/1, I think he's fantastic each-way value.
Latest Exhibition - National Hunt Challenge Cup
Latest Exhibition (NRNB)2021 National Hunt Chase Ante-Post TipsGET 6/1 HERE
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Monkfish looked ultra-impressive when winning the Flogas Novices' Chase, and was immediately cut into odds-on for the Festival Novices' Chase following that 11-length demolition.
For the third time in as many Grade Ones, LATEST EXHIBITION has finished second to Monkfish. In the Neville Hotels over Christmas, and again this weekend, Bryan Cooper knew there was no way he could get past Monkfish after jumping the last, and was pretty quick to give up the ghost.
After a three-length loss over Christmas, trainer Paul Nolan admitted it would be very hard to beat Monkfish at Cheltenham. It's possible he could swerve a fourth clash with the favourite in the Festival Novices' Chase, having been beaten even more convincingly this weekend.
This leaves the National Hunt Chase as Latest Exhibition's most likely target. Paul Nolan may be keen to avenge the narrow loss Discorama suffered behind Le Breuil in the 2019 National Hunt, and Latest Exhibition's odds for the National Hunt have shortened considerably over Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. As non-runner no bets go, Latest Exhibition in the former four-miler looks a very good one.