Three Ante-Post Bets For The 2023 Cheltenham Festival

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Facile Vega - 4/1 - Supreme Novices' Hurdle

Facile Vega put up one of the performances of the week when landing the Grade One Champion Bumper in horrific, testing conditions and off the back of what he has done so far in his career, he is all but certainly going to be the talking horse for the Novice Hurdle events at next years festival.

Beautifully bred out of six time Cheltenham festival winner Quevega and Walk In The Park, he made his rules debut on Boxing Day at Leopardstown when easily seeing off a good field by six lengths.

He massively improved for that run when last seen in the Dublin Racing festival landing the Grade Two Future Stars bumper by 12 lengths, showing a turn of foot rarely seen so early on in a horses career.

The favourite for this seasons Champion Bumper, when the rain came down making the conditions heavy, many thought it would not play to his strengths.

However, good horses tend to run in any ground and that is exactly what happened with the gelding when pulling clear of market rival American Mike to win by close to four lengths.

With the speed he possesses, it looks like the Supreme will be his preferred location next season and with some firms offering 4/1, it looks a bet that is only going to get shorter as the season goes on.

Hillcrest - 25/1 - Brown Advisory Novices' Chase

A horse that did not put himself in any glory at the 2022 Cheltenham festival was Hillcrest for Henry Daly, backed off the boards ahead of the Grade One Albert Bartlett the horse was pulled up to the dismay of favourite backers.

Hillcrest is a horse that whatever he did as a bumper/hurdles horse it was always going to be a bonus, with his physical stature that of a chaser and his connections/trainer have always been looking forward to the moment he is sent over fences.

He was a smart bumper horse at the start of 2021, placing on debut and then getting off the mark at Wetherby.

Given a break and sent over hurdles this term, he made a smart debut at Aintree over 2m4f, beating a next time out winner and then backed that up at Wetherby over slightly further, taking a novice hurdle under a penalty by 20 lengths.

Looking to land a hat-trick over hurdles he went to Cheltenham in a hot Listed event and saw of the highly rated I Am Maximus and Get A tonic with ease.

Hillcrest went back to Prestbury Park in the Grade Two Ballymore Trial and unfortunately unseated his rider before we could tell what would happen.

Turned out quickly having been none the worse for that mishap he went into deep ground at Haydock and blitzed a field in a good Grade Two over this trip and his time figures that day were superb.

After his poor run last week, Daly has now pulled up stumps with him for the season and all roads lead to going over fences.

The horses stays well and if jumping well enough, he will be aimed at the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices' Chase and currently being 25/1 for that makes him overpriced in our eyes.

Delta Work - 5/2 - Cross Country Chase

The final horse that is worth backing for the Cheltenham festival next year is the horse that did not get the script this year, with Delta Work seeing off the superstar stayer Tiger Roll to land the Cross Country Chase on his first attempt at running over the course and distance.

Delta Work has been a top class horse for connections Gigginstown over the years, now a two time Cheltenham festival winner and also a five time Grade One winner over fences.

Having been a huge Gold Cup fancy two years ago, he lost his way over the last few seasons and has struggled in Grade One company, underperforming constantly in races he was usually in the frame, if not winning.

However, Elliott as a last chance saloon move, took him out of the firing line in the big races throughout the season and instead after his poor run in the Irish Gold Cup, decided to send him down the Cross Country Route.

In a race that should have been won by Tiger Roll on his final start in his career, Delta Work put up a tremendous effort to beat his stablemate close home, revelling in the new terrain and looking back to somewhere near his best.

With Tiger Roll now retired, it looks as though Delta Work is the new Cross Country horse for the rest of his career and being nearly 22 lengths clear of the third placed horse, if running to the same level next year he could be tough to beat.