2020 Cheltenham Festival tips – Our team of tipsters pick out their best ante-post bets

The betting for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival is already starting to hot up and our squad of writers have today published who they each feel is the best ante-post bet for this season’s “greatest show on turf”.

The National Hunt season is about to catch-fire, with punters eagerly awaiting a wonderful winter of big Festivals from Newbury, Kempton and Leopardstown. All that’s still to come, but there’s no harm in gazing even further into the distance and take a look through the markets for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Our team of writers have been in strong form during the early knockings of the new jumps season. They’ve taken a look through the ante-post markets for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and each has picked out their best long-term bets for National Hunt racing’s showpiece event.

Racing Tips Best Ante-Post Bets for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival

Jon Vine

Envoi Allen looks a champion in the making and backing Gordon Elliott’s novice in the “win any race” special market could prove a profitable punt. However, his stablemate, CHAMPAGNE CLASSIC (10/1 William Hill) looks to have been pointed squarely at the National Hunt Chase and, at 10/1, he would have to be my best ante-post bet.

Unfairly branded “the worst horse Gigginstown own” after his triumph in the 2017 Martin Pipe, Champagne Classic made Michael O’Leary eat his words by defeating Penhill in the Grade One staying hurdle at Punchestown a few weeks later. Gordon Elliott’s charge then missed a whole year through injury, but shaped nicely on both his starts over fences last season, placing in two good-quality Graded races.

Champagne Classic was my ante-post selection in the 2019 running of the National Hunt Chase, only for injury to intervene again and rule Elliott’s eight-year-old out of the meeting again. The former Festival winner has been out twice already this term – a fact which points towards a trouble-free offseason – winning a novice contest at Fairyhouse before an effortless triumph over Discorama in a Listed race at Wexford.

Such has been the quality of his performances during the autumn, I don’t think Champagne Classic would look out of place if he ran in the RSA at Cheltenham. However, Elliott has already identified the National Hunt Chase as his Festival objective and Jamie Codd will more-than-likely take the ride. If he stays fit – and that has proven a very big if over the last two years – then Champagne Classic will be very hard to beat in this three-and-three-quarter mile contest.

Champagne Classic leaps the last before winning the Martin Pipe in 2017.

Brian Healy (@Brian_Healy)

Despite the potential presence of the likes of Samcro and Laurina in opposition in Thursday’s JLT Novices’ Chase, BLACK OP (12/1 William Hill) may well prove to be the one to side with, if Tom George can get the Sandmason gelding to Cheltenham in one piece.

A top-class hurdler during the 2017/18 season, he was the only one to get anywhere near close to the then-imperious Samcro when clashing swords with Gordon Elliott’s charge in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. A last-flight mistake might have cost him that day, but Black Op later made amends with victory over Lostintranslation in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.

Things didn’t go to plan for him last term over fences or hurdles, failing to win in any of his starts, and Black Op signed off his campaign with a disappointing third at Sandown. His jumping of fences had left a lot to be desired when beaten both starts over the larger obstacles, and he possibly just failed to see out three miles reverted to hurdles in the second half of the season.

Back over fences for this campaign, he got off to an impressive start at Stratford, jumping with more fluency than had been the case, having transitioned to a front-running role. If he can continue to show that level of progress this term, then he may well yet turn into a top-class chaser.

The JLT looks his ideal distance, and he is one who could well improve markedly back over fences this term. Despite racing over the larger obstacles last term, he still qualifies for a novice campaign, where his experience may prove crucial and he certainly has the scope to make a big impression.

Black Op doesn’t have the best Cheltenham record, but he’s interesting nonetheless with the potential for better still to come as a chaser. He could take high order this term as a middle-distance chaser if continuing to show progress.

Black Op (centre) beating Lostintranslation (right) over hurdles at Aintree in 2018.

Daryl Carter (@DarylCarter7)

My best bet for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival has to be CHAMP (7/2 BetVictor), who looks set to run in the RSA Novices’ Chase.

Nicky Henderson’s talented star made a fine return to action when impressing on Chase debut at Newbury earlier this month, despite making a few errors at his fences. It’s rare to find a staying chaser with a turn of foot like the one he possesses and that might just make the difference coming up the famous Cheltenham hill in March. With plenty more to come over this trip and his form rock solid, he’s certainly one to keep on side.

Danny Whizzbang claims a Grade Two on his first start over fences.

Chris Loader (@Luckyloaders15)

I was at Newbury this weekend and, in the parade ring before the start of the Grade 2 John Francombe Novices’ Chase, I was bowled over by the appearance of Danny Whizzbang (16/1 Ladbrokes). He’s a massive horse and looked ready to go and I decided that I must back him. He didn’t disappoint me, beating the highly regarded Reserve Tank quite easily on his chase debut. After the win he was well backed for the National Hunt Chase and there were also some quotes for the RSA.

Paul Nicholls said after the race that the Ladbrokes Trophy could be taylormade for him next season. However, I think Nicholls could be surprised by him throughout the rest of the season.

Danny Whizzbang has been campaigned to be a chaser, winning twice over hurdles on both his starts. I honestly think he could be a Grade 1 horse and, in places at 16-1, I would be happy to take that price because he could be a lot shorter if he turns up.

Chacun Pour Soi (left) defeating Defi Du Seuil (right) at the 2019 Punchestown Festival.

Jack Haylett (@_Frankelstein_)

With Altior set to move up in trip for this season then the two-mile division looks very open. I think however there is a clear standout to claim the crown and dominate the division, CHACUN POUR SOI (4/1 Ladbrokes).

This gelding has always been held in high regard by Willie Mullins, but they have had to be patient in getting him to overcome various issues and injuries since buying him from France. He showed last spring that ability is something he has in abundance with an electric display in a beginner’s chase.

That form was nothing special, but nobody could argue about the strength of the Grade One he took home at Punchestown. That day he beat both the Arkle and the JLT winners, and for me confirmed himself the outstanding chaser of his novice class. Provided connections can keep him sound I’m sure he will have a very impressive season and I’m backing him to win the Champion Chase.

The Gold Cup looks very open at this stage, that was not the case last season however, with Presenting Percy (16/1 William Hill) a relatively short price all season. Connections did not have an ideal campaign with him, but he seemed to return with career best hurdles form in late January. That showed he had, at minimum, retained his ability, but it was always going to be a tough task going to the Gold Cup without even a run over fences to his name that campaign.

Presenting Percy was never really comfortable that day, finishing mid-field and returned lame, forcing Pat Kelly to put him away with a view to this season. Clearly that was not his true running and I’m surprised he is available at 16/1 to bounce back in fine style this time around. His performance in the RSA really sticks in the mind and I’m sure this is a top notch chaser, therefore I’m backing him to win the Gold Cup.

Best Cheltenham Festival Bets

Jon Vine – CHAMPAGNE CLASSIC (10/1 William Hill) in the 2020 National Hunt Chase

Brian Healy – BLACK OP (12/1 William Hill) in the 2020 JLT Novices’ Chase

Daryl Carter – CHAMP (5/1 BetVictor) in the 2020 RSA Novices’ Chase

Chris Loader – DANNY WHIZZBANG (16/1 Ladbrokes)  in the 2020 RSA Novices’ Chase

Jack Haylett – CHACUN POUR SOI (4/1 Ladbrokes) in the 2020 Champion Chase
Plus PRESENTING PERCY (16/1 William Hill) in the 2020 Gold Cup