Cheltenham Festival clues at Sandown and Fairyhouse this weekend

Fiddlerontheroof won last year's Tolworth Hurdle before lining up in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Fiddlerontheroof won last year's Tolworth Hurdle before lining up in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Steve Chambers looks at the weekend action from Sandown and Fairyhouse and picks out those horses that could feature at the Cheltenham Festival in March, with the Tolworth Novices' Hurdle likely to throw up some notable Supreme Novices' Hurdle clues...

Sandown 12:40, Saturday (Unibet 'You're On' Mares Hurdle)

With racing at Cheltenham abandoned on Friday, Sandown Park will be the feature meeting over the coming days, and Saturday's card should provide some quality National Hunt action, with a couple of the races potentially providing some notable clues for races at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival in March.

There's a fascinating listed Mares' Hurdle at 12:40 at Sandown, where some exciting performers will be looking to throw their hat into the ring for the 2021 Mares' Hurdle. The Irish-trained runners dominate the top of the betting for the Festival showpiece, with recent Leopardstown winner Concertista and reigning Mares' Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle heading the betting, but lurking in behind the front two in the market are some potential smart UK performers - some of which we may see at Sandown on Saturday.

Last season's Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle winner Indefatigable is around a 25/1 chance for the Mares' Hurdle in March, but she was last seen finishing third at Kempton Park, so will need to bounce back to form. Stormy Ireland finished second in the 2019 Mares' Hurdle while under the stewardship of Willie Mullins, but the six-year-old has since switched to the yard of Paul Nicholls and is looking to recapture her best form. As big as 40/1 for the 2021 Mares' Hurdle, Stormy Ireland could be an each-way prospect for many, and a positive run this weekend will see her price plummet.

Sandown 14:25, Saturday (Unibet Tolworth Novices' Hurdle)

The first Grade 1 of 2021 takes centre stage at Sandown Park on Saturday with the Tolworth Novices' Hurdle likely to attract a host of smart, emerging youngsters which could throw up a potential Supreme Novices' Hurdle contender. Won last year by Colin Tizzard's Fiddlerontheroof, the Tolworth has been won by some big stars down the years, including Desert Orchid (1984), French Holly (1998) and more recently Yorkhill (2016), and a new name shall be etched on the roll of honour this weekend.

Dan Skelton's Third Time Lucki has been hugely progressive over hurdles this season, and having finished second in the Grade 2 Sharp Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in November, he then went on to cruise to a nine-length success at Kempton on Boxing Day, and he could make a quick turnaround and line up on Saturday. Currently a 25/1 shot for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Third Time Lucki will need to win this impressively if he is to force his way into the Supreme shake-up, and with Appreciate It having thrown down an impressive marker over Christmas, Third Time Lucki has a long way to go to be regarded a top notch novice.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

Harry Fry's Metier has made a superb start to his hurdling career having been a fair performer on the Flat in Ireland, and wins at Newton Abbot and Ascot have shown he has ability over timber, but this is a huge step up in class and he will need to continue on the upgrade. A 33/1 chance for the Supreme, Metier is an exciting four-year-old and a win at the weekend will propel her into the Cheltenham Festival picture.

Second to the classy Benson at Sandown last time out, the Jane Williams-trained Galice Macalo is a filly on the upgrade, while Tom Lacey's hat-trick-seeking Adrimel (50/1 for the Supreme) is unbeaten over timber, and having finished 16th in last season's Champion Bumper, then Lacey's raider will hope to return to the festival in March.

Fairyhouse 14:50, Sunday (John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase)

The addition of the Mares' Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival has certainly brought a new lease of life into that division, and while some jumps fans will have their reservations about the new race to the festival schedule, it should provide a hugely competitive event in March, and Sunday should see a decent trial for the event at Fairyhouse.

The Grade 3 John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase has attracted a strong list of entries, and unsurprisingly WIllie Mullins will have a notable say in proceedings, and he is likely to saddle some really smart performers. Salsaretta could spearhead the Closutton handler's charge, and she is already an 8/1 third favourite for the Mares' Chase in March. The Grade 2-winning novice chaser was a faller on her first start this season at Punchestown, so Mullins will be hoping she can improve on that first fence tumble, but having blossomed over the larger obstacles last season, then she will be one of the leading players if taking her chance.

Elimay has won her two career starts over fences and is a 12/1 chance for the Mares' Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. She finished second over hurdles at Punchestown in November, so will enjoy a return to the chasing sphere and is an intriguing contender, while the recent Kerry National winner Cabaret Queen (40/1 for Mares' Chase) could take her chance, but she may find it tough out of handicap company.

Gordon Elliott's Shattered Love has competed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Ryanair Chase in recent years, but having struggled in both, the Cullentra House mare may be targeted at the Mares' Chase at this year's Festival. Available at 16/1 for the Cheltenham event, the former JLT Novices' Chase (now Marsh Novices' Chase) winner will look to lay down a marker on Sunday and will be a notable thorn in the side of the Mullins battalion. The Mags Mullins-trained Agusta Gold has been a model of consistency over fences and adds more depth to a race that is sure to throw up some notable clues for the Mares' Chase at the 2021 festival at Prestbury Park.

Cheltenham Festival Races

£20 Risk Free First Bet Money Back In Cash

New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is €/£20. T&Cs apply. 18+
Bet £10 Get £40 in Free Bets
New customers using promo code C40 only. 1x per customer. Min £10/€10 bet. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Free bets paid as 2x £15/€15 (expires after 30 days). Max £10 Bonus. 35x wagering requirement. Max redeemable amount £25. Casino bonus expires 72 hours from issue. Eligibility rules, free-bet rules, game, location, payment-method, currency restrictions, stake contributions and terms and conditions apply. 18+
Welcome Offer
#ad Open Account Offer. Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. The bonus code ‘100BET365’ can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount in any way. 18+
Bet £10 Get £30 + 60 Free Spins
New UK & NI customers only. Promo code SPORTS60. Deposit and place first sports bet of £10+ in one transaction, at odds of Evens (2.0)+, settled within 60 days. First bet must be on Sports. £30 in Free Bets credited within 48 hours of bet settlement. 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS validation may be required. Max 60 Free Spins on Justice League Comics. 7-day expiry.  Full T&Cs apply. 18+
Bet £5 Get £20 In Free Bets
Min £5 bet on the SBK. Rewards valid for 7 days. Free bets must be placed at min odds of 1.5. Exchange free bet limited to certain markets. Payment restrictions apply. T&Cs apply. 18+
Bet £10 & Get £30 Free Bets + £10 Casino Bonus
Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager bonus amount x40 within 14 days • Wagering req. vary by game • Withdrawal restrictions and Full T&C’s apply. 18+
Bet £10 Get £40 In Bonuses
18+ new customers only. Deposit, opt-in and place a £10 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 3x £10 Sports Free Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater. Plus, a £10 Game Show Bonus, selected games, wager 40x to withdraw a max of £250. Bonuses expire in 7 days. T&Cs Apply, see below. Please Gamble Responsibly. 18+
£25 Bet Bundle
UK Customers (Excluding NI) only. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Cashed out bets will not qualify towards average stake. One offer per customer, household or IP address. Free bet expires after 7 days. T&Cs apply
Today's Most tipped
Latest racing results
1st Doctor Churchill
2nd Major J
3rd Love Baileys
1st Fayathaan
2nd Majestic Tejaan
3rd Toussarok
1st Universal Effect
2nd Herons Nest
3rd My Brother Mike
View All Today's Results