Cheltenham Festival 2013: Tips from Colin Onens

Colin Onens

BBC Gloucestershire's racing guru Colin Onens brings you a host of tips and horses to watch out for during the 2013 National Hunt Festival at Cheltenham.

Below you can find Colin's three-a-day to follow, complete with their own cautionary notes.

Day one

William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle: There's always a hot pot in the first and it never wins but this year it will. My Tent Or Yours at 6-4 will pull all the pegs up and skip up the hill.

Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase: Simonsig is a real hot pot and if you can get even-money, then get on it.

Stan James Champion Hurdle: Hurricane Fly or Rock On Ruby? They're two good horses, but for me it's Zarkandar at three and a bit, as the bookies call it, that's 4-1 to you and me.

Day two

The John Oaksey National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup: This is for amateur riders and I'm going for Hawkes Point. They tell me that bookies never get it wrong, but he's 16-1 from Paul Nicholls' yard. This is an absolute banker for the meeting, he won't be 16-1 on the day so get on him now - he will win.

The Weatherbys Champion Bumper: Golantilla is at 6-1, he's just changed hands - new owner, new trainer. They spent an awful lot of money on him and if he's half as good as we've been told this will be the Irish banker of the meeting.

The Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase: Sprinter Sacre is one hell of a horse, but 4-1 on - that's buying money, any odds on bet you're buying money. I can't see anything beating it, he's a horse with real wow factor, just watch it and enjoy.

Day three

The Ryanair Chase: This looks like being one of the best races of the entire meeting. I love Champion Court, he goes well at Cheltenham and at 10-1 I'd back him each way. Don't forget Albertas Run always goes well in this race.

The Jewson Novices' Chase: Dynaste is David Pipe's hot pot of the meeting, he's 2-1 and Pipe's all over this horse. I think he'll win.

Ladbroke's World Hurdle: Will Oscar Whisky at 7-2 get the three miles up the hill in the Ladbroke's World Hurdle? Of course he will! But Mrs Tipster reckons you'd be mad to get on it and tells me it can't win. She says Get Me Out Of Here will win at 16-1. She's convinced AP McCoy will get him home and she loves Jonjo O'Neill as a trainer.

Day four (Gold Cup day)

JCB Triumph Hurdle: Far West at 5-1 is made for Cheltenham and will win this race. The only one that can get anywhere near him is Rolling Star, but for me it's Far West.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle: At Fishers Cross, trained by Rebecca Curtis and ridden by AP McCoy, is another one at 4-1. Don't believe anybody who says this won't win, because he will - trust me.

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup: I think this is going to be one of the best Gold Cups you will ever see, there are so many fantastic horses in it. Bobs Worth is the 3-1 and a worthy favourite -he'll probably win it. But at 20-1 look out for Captain Chris as an each way bet. He's going to be there or thereabouts, he's been smashing it all year. I think he goes on better ground.

Going, in-form trainers and horses for courses

It's really important that the horse goes on the ground - whether it's in mud, or quick. For six months now we've had rain, rain, snow, rain, bit of snow, more rain.

It's been heavy at Cheltenham, but the sun's been out and the ground's been drying out, so if that continues look for horses that go on good to soft. Always look at the ground, it's very, very important.

At the festival you've got to look to see if trainers' horses are running well from day one. It's no good backing one of their horses on the Thursday or Friday if their entries aren't finishing well on the Tuesday and Wednesday.

Look out for Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, Jonjo O'Neill, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Willie Mullins - see how their horses are running and if they're in form, go for them.

Horses don't just come in form on their own, it comes from the whole yard. We saw this last year when Nicky Henderson had a record seven winners over the four days.

I've always said if you go well at Cheltenham, you go well at Cheltenham. You're either made for it or you're not, so it really is a case of horses for courses.

Look for horses that keep going back every year and keep winning - the likes of Albertas Run and Quevega (going for her fifth win in a row in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle on day two). Sprinter Sacre is another one that keeps winning along with two fairly new ones, At Fishers Cross and The New One (goes in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle on day two). Both have taken to the course like ducks to water.

Trainers' tips

As usual, I've got in touch with a host of trainers for their big hopes, starting with the Gloucestershire handlers.

David Bridgwater goes for his stable star The Giant Bolster, who was second in the Gold Cup last year. David thinks he's going to run another brilliant race in this year's contest and who would have thought he would have run so well last year? He's 20-1 and definitely worth an each way bet.

Martin Keighley's best hope is Champion Court in the Ryanair Chase on day three. It always runs well at Cheltenham and has got to be an each way bet. Martin's told me not to tip it, but I am anyway!

Nigel Twiston-Davies goes for The New One in the Neptune; he's 4-1 and we know he likes Cheltenham, but the Neptune is such a hard race. He'll come late, he's got a turn of foot, let's hope he gets in there.

Jonjo O'Neill's Taquin Du Seuil is in the Neptune as well at 6-1. This is a hard race, but the loveable O'Neill tells me this is the best bet of all of his at Cheltenham, and you'd always believe Jonjo, wouldn't you?

He's also given me two more: one for the handicaps - Alfie Sherrin (who won the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase at last year's Festival), who'll probably go in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Chase (12-1) and in the National Hunt Chase, Merry King is at 14-1. This is a race O'Neill's won four times in the before and he always wins one of the handicaps as well.

Outside of Gloucestershire, Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has got so many good horses and he text me to say look out for Sam Winner in the Pertemps Final, at 6-1. They like him a lot and they think he's going to go close.

Nicholls has also got Saphir Du Rheu, he's 9-1 for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on day two. He's had two runs for Nicholls - a third and a first - and they think it'll take a good one to beat him. They really, really fancy this.

Tim Vaughan hopes to run between six and 10 horses at Cheltenham, depending on the ground. Tartak has been running in the mud all winter and hated it. Vaughan said if the ground comes up good he'll be there or thereabouts in the Kim Muir, which he's 33-1 for.

He's also got Swynmor in the Triumph on the final day, who looks an exciting prospect and they're hoping for a big run - at 25-1 he could be a good each way bet.

Finally Philip Hobbs has given me two. The first is Balthazar King, who's 9-1 in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and this horse knows this course backwards. He always goes well at Cheltenham and Hobbs hopes he'll run a big race.

And in the Gold Cup Hobbs tells me Captain Chris, who's 20-1, is a bullish bet. He fancies it, he thinks he's going to win it, but it's a hard race so at that price I'd go each way.

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