Cheltenham Festival Tips: My Banker, Lay and Big-Priced Champion Chase tip

Cheltenham Festival Tips: Paisley Park goes for glory in the Stayers' Hurdle.
Cheltenham Festival Tips: Paisley Park goes for glory in the Stayers' Hurdle.

Sean Raymond picks out his banker for the Cheltenham Festival, as well as his lay of the meeting, along with a big-priced tip in the Champion Chase...

The arrival of March is a significant milestone for fans of the jumps with Cheltenham now just a matter of days away.

It will not be a normal Festival in 2021 with a distinct lack of tweed coming through the turnstiles, but thankfully the sport on the track is set to be as exciting as ever. The best equine stars from both sides of the Irish Sea will be crossing swords at the mecca and there are three horses in particular I am keeping a close eye on… 


Envoi Allen and Monkfish are of course the two that stand out in this category this season and it is hard to argue against the claims of either. The two Irish trained stars have been hoof perfect in their appearances this season and it would be a surprise if either got beat at Prestbury Park in their respective assignments.

There is however another horse lurking at a bigger price that is going into my banker category this season, with the rejuvenated PAISLEY PARK the one to follow in the Stayers’ Hurdle. The 2019 winner of the race flopped in the defence of his crown this time last year, but has bounced back this term to prove himself the one to beat.

Narrowly beaten by Thyme Hill in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on seasonal debut, the Emma Lavelle-trained star turned the tables in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. The winning margin that day may have only been a neck, but Paisley Park was value for more than that having been held up in heavy ground.

Missing the Cleeve Hurdle may have been a blessing in disguise with another race in testing conditions likely to have been on the cards. Still only nine, Paisley Park can be forgiven his poor run at the Festival last year and with a distinct lack of opposition likely to be taking him on, the old hero can regain his crown at a decent price.

Stayers' Hurdle
Paisley Park silk

Paisley Park


The Henry De Bromhead-trained HONEYSUCKLE stunned the Dublin Racing Festival last time out with a brilliant win in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

The unbeaten mare had shown plenty of promise during her career but that performance was on a different level as she rocketed herself to the head of the Champion Hurdle prices. The seven-year-old produced a career best to destroy some good horses at Leopardstown that day but the Champion Hurdle is another step up again.

A best price of 3/1, at the time of writing, seems a touch too short about a horse in Honeysuckle who only beat Benie Des Dieux half a length to win the Mares’ Hurdle at Prestbury Park twelve months ago. There is no doubt she appears to have improved again but in Epatante and Goshen she does face two potentially worthy rivals.

Prior to losing last time out when clearly something was amiss, Epatante was considered a stone-cold certainty for a second Champion Hurdle by many, while it was hard not to be impressed by the way Goshen cruised to victory at Wincanton recently.

The Champion Hurdle is always the highlight of the week for me and this season will hopefully be no different thanks to these three exciting horses. Honeysuckle is clearly a huge talent but given the level of potential opposition and her previous form at Cheltenham, which wouldn’t be good enough, I am happy to take her on at the prices.

Big-Priced Selection

Looking for something at a bigger price is always the most enjoyable aspect of any Cheltenham Festival with some terrific animals lurking further down some of the race markets.

Trainers and owners up and down the country are busy preparing their stars for a trip to Gloucestershire and my selection for this category is an old favourite. SCEAU ROYAL has been mixing at the top table of jumps racing for what seems like years now but the Alan King-trained stalwart is still only nine.

A hugely consistent horse on the big stage, Sceau Royal is always there or thereabouts when he rocks up to Prestbury Park in March and I believe he can do the same in 2021. Outside of Chacun Pour Soi, there are huge doubts about the majority of the contenders in the Queen Mother Champion Chase betting. 

It is exactly the kind of year that could see something like Sceau Royal finish in the place money at a price of 20/1 which is far too big to ignore from an each-way point of view. This is a horse who was good enough to finish third in the Champion Chase in 2019 before returning last year once again to finish a respectable fifth.

A comfortable win over the Cheltenham Gold Cup bound Champ in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury recently shows he is in good nick and ready to run well. Connections will be hoping for decent ground to see the horse to best effect but at the prices and given the doubts about some of his likely contenders, Sceau Royal looks a lovely each-way poke for punters to go to war with.

Queen Mother Champion Chase
Sceau Royal silk

Sceau Royal (EW)

Cheltenham Festival Races
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