Severn Sport’s Road to Cheltenham Festival 2021: 8 weeks to go

Here at Severn Sport not only do we cast our eyes over Gloucestershire Football, but we also follow horse racing and in particular the road to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

As part of our annual coverage we host a tipster league in March and get local players involved as part of the fun and this year with the fact there isn’t much football happening currently we have had time to actually take in the early stages of the jumps season and get ready for the festival properly.

So with that being said we thought with about two months to go until all eyes are on Cheltenham (as it currently stands) we would get a couple of our tipsters together to cast their eye on ante-post fancies.

Check out the selections below as Damon Highet and Slimbridge defender Joel White join Ryan and Kelsey in having their say.


Kelsey De Maria talks you through his ante-post fancies for the Festival

My first selection is in The Ballymore and I’ve been on Bob Olinger at 25/1 in Wednesday’s curtain raiser, and 12/1 to win any race. On Wednesday he travelled strongly in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle before Rachael Blackmore sent him to the front and eased home nicely to win by 6.5 lengths.

He’s now the 7/2 joint favourite with Bravemansgame in some places and, for me, has the perfect blend of speed and stamina that suits this race, which is often settled by turn of foot in the closing stages.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 5/1 (bet365)

I doubt Joel White will be happy with my next pick. Again it’s one I’ve been on for a few months now and it’s Thyme Hill in the Stayers Hurdle.

Thursday’s feature race will be a shot at redemption for Paisley Park and no doubt Joel will be beating that drum again this year. The fact is though, Thyme Hill has already gotten the better of Andrew Gemmell’s 9 year-old in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November, and he was far from disgraced when placing second behind the former champion in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last month.

The Cleeve Hurdle on Cheltenham Trails Day remains an option, however, his master trainer Philip Hobbs has already revealed that he could go straight to the Festival.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 4/1 (bet365)

Finally my Gold Cup selection is Minella Indo. The 8 year-old won comfortably at Wexford and Navan before falling in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, when sent off the 5/2 favourite. Al Boum Photo naturally commands respect and I was very impressed by A Plus Tard, who will provide Henry De Bromhead with a strong second string to his bow.

However, Minella Indo possesses all of the attributes to be a big player in Cheltenham’s blue ribband contest and he clearly goes very well in the Cotswolds. He ran out a good winner of the 2019 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on Cheltenham’s new course and I remain very keen on his prospects if none the worse for his fall. I’m on at 12/1 and you can still get a good value 10/1 for him to add to his Cheltenham tally.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 10/1 (bet365)


Damon Highet has been a core part of our Horse Racing coverage on Severn Sport

My first selection is Elimay in the Mares Hurdle. She simply knows how to win, previous course experience in this race and I believe this is her ideal trip. She does need to prove she can do it at this level but has been very lightly raced and the master trainer in this race has stuck with her. Really, there are horses in here with better chances, but for me she is much better value. What I like to call a bet.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 20/1 (William Hill)

Melon is becoming a bit of a legend at Cheltenham from a consistency prespective and has really mixed it with some top horses this season. Lightly raced as usual and looks as good as ever and certainly knows his way round Cheltenham! At the current price for the Ryanair Chase (with other races still a possibility) it seems one of the most obvious each way bets at the festival.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 12/1 (bet365)

Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup for me. As much as there is lots of up and coming potential stars in this field there are just questions marks that need answering before I take a punt at bigger odds. 2 time champ, similar prep and the master trainer puts him in for the 3-peat. Can’t see past him for an obvious bet at 7/2.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 7/2 Fav (bet365, BetFred, BetVictor, Betway, William Hill)


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Joel White (right) along with Myron Turner (left) are current Severn Sport Tipster League Champions

My first selection is Wide Receiver in the Martin Pipe on the Friday. Gordon Elliott loves a winner in this particular race and this has been the horse’s main aim all season.

I’m on him at 25/1 personally but there is still good value in his 8/1 price as I would say he is likely to go off shorter the way he is going.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 8/1 Fav (bet365 & Sky Bet)

There is no introduction needed about my pick in the Stayers Hurdle. Paisley Park just turns up and wins, simple.

People will doubt Paisley after Thyme Hill’s win at Newbury, but with Paisley responding in kind at Ascot in December I can only see another Cheltenham win for this great horse.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 3/1 Fav (bet365, BetFair, Paddy Power)

Gold Cup wise I am looking at Minella Indo. He is a top class stayer and shown that he can last the trip and was two from two this season until falling early on last time out.

There will be a lot of eyes looking at Al Boum Photo seeking a hattrick but I can see him beating the favourites on the line on the day.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 10/1 (bet365)


Ryan Butler consistently picks the most places during the Tipster Leagues

My first selection is a horse that impressed last time out in Adagio. At 8/1-10/1 for the Triumph Hurdle it shows good ante-post value for both single or multiple pre-festival wagers.

Four wins from the last five outings, with a strong 2nd place in the JCB Triumph Trial at Cheltenham in November to go along with it. Expect another strong showing from Adagio come March.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 10/1 (William Hill)

During the summer I read a “horses to watch this season” type of post online and read about a horse called McFabulous and since then it’s been hard to be impressed with the Paul Nicholls trained stayer.

I’ve had a go on McFabulous during the season at 10/1 to win any race and most recently as an each way shout in the Stayers Hurdle. The race itself is a competitive one and all eyes will rightly be on Paisley Park and Thyme Hill – especially as McFabulous finished 3rd behind the pair at Newbury – but McFabulous can still have a say on the outcome of the race.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 20/1 (bet365)

For me the Gold Cup is a bit of a minefield at the moment, with a few challengers slowly making their intentions known as we get closed to the festival, but I like the preparations of A Plus Tard so far.

I was on him in the recent Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup victory at Leopardstown in December and Henry De Bromhead’s runner has never finished outside the top 3 on any of his 15 runs.

The only thing that could scupper his chances is that he is also entered in the running for the Ryanair at the Festival, so again watch this space as to where he ends up.

I do also like the look of Kemboy each way at 25/1 if the jumping remains to be as strong as the two most recent times I’ve seen him.

Best current price (as on Oddschecker.com at time of writing): 10/1 (bet365)


Check back on Severn Sport in the build up the Gold Cup Festival in March, the highlight of the jumps racing calendar

Cover photo copyright with Getty Images

Photo of Joel White and Myron Turner Copyright with Brian Rossiter; please visit his wonderful albums via Twitter @BrianRossiter1 or Flickr