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The Cheltenham Festival stars lurking this weekend and why now is the time to back them

THE Cheltenham Festival might still be 124 days away – not that we’re counting – but there is no time like the present to back your big-race fancies.

There are plenty of stars on show in both Britain and Ireland this weekend and there will undoubtedly be some significant moves in the ante-post Festival markets.

Two-time Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter returns this weekend

So, while we are still a long way out from the main event in March, your best chance of getting as much value as possible is to back your fancies early doors.

We run through five potential Festival market movers who are set to strut their stuff this weekend.

Monmiral (33-1 for the Arkle)

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has long talked about Grade 1 winner Monmiral as a potential star over fences.

The five-year-old has three runs over hurdles last season but struggled to make much of an impact at the top level.

But he has reportedly been electric in his schooling at Nicholls’ yard and he is well-fancied in Saturday’s Arkle Trial at Cheltenham.

Gentleman De Mee (14-1 for the Champion Chase)

Willie Mullins’ exciting chaser absolutely bolted up in the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April.

That was his first crack at the top-level over fences and he beat the Arkle winner Edwardstone pretty comfortably, for all that rival was feeling the effects of a long, hard season.

The six-year-old starts his campaign in the Grade 3 Poplar Chase at Naas on Saturday and he will have plenty of big targets in the coming months.

Edwardstone (16-1 for the Champion Chase)

Alan King’s stable star chased home Gentleman De Mee at Aintree, but he otherwise had an unblemished first season over fences.

He won five times, including a brilliant win in the Arkle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

He starts his season off in Sunday’s Shloer Chase at Cheltenham and all roads lead back to the home of jumps racing for the Champion Chase in March.

Arkle winner Edwardstone returns at Cheltenham on Sunday

Flooring Porter (9-2f for the Stayers’ Hurdle)

The two-time Stayers’ Hurdle winner gets his season up and running in Sunday’s Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.

He has been unstoppable in his two visits to Cheltenham, winning the three-mile hurdling championship in both 2021 and 2022.

He also started out last season in the Lismullen but fell when in a narrow lead at the second last. If he stays on his feet and wins this time, his odds for a Stayers’ Hurdle hat-trick will plummet.

Bob Olinger (10-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle)

Henry De Bromhead’s two-time Cheltenham Festival winner also makes his seasonal reappareance in the Lismullen Hurdle.

He was undeniably very lucky to win the Turners Novice Chase back in March, when Galopin Des Champs fell with the race at his mercy.

It appears that De Bromhead has decided to shelve Bob Olinger’s chasing career for the time being, and a crack at the Stayers’ Hurdle in March looks likely.


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