IN many ways this is the best time of the jumps season.
We can all still dream of landing a big ante-post punt on the Cheltenham Festival and the bookies are only too happy to accommodate with some decent prices on offer.
So let’s have a go at a long-range Lucky 15 on March’s four showpiece races.
CHAMPION HURDLE: FERNY HOLLOW 10-1
We didn’t get to see the best of the 2020 Champion Bumper winner over hurdles last season.
He had just one run which saw him beat Bob Olinger at Gowran Park in November.
That form was more than franked and Willie Mullins wisely refused to rush him back after an injury.
Reports have been positive over the summer and he’s ready to get going again.
The one negative is his liking for soft ground but he handled Cheltenham well at the 2020 Festival and has a lot more to offer.
CHAMPION CHASE: ENERGUMENE 5-1
You may think it’s crazy to take on Shiskin but this seven-year-old has plenty going for him too.
A slight setback forced him out of the Festival last season but he returned with an impressive success in a Punchestown Grade 1.
That was just his fourth run over fences and improvement is guaranteed.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL ANTE POST GUIDE
STAYERS HURDLE: THYME HILL 5-1
There is the option of chasing but hopefully connections will stay over timber and go for the Stayers’ Hurdle.
He finished last season on a high with a game Grade 1 victory at Aintree so he’s up to that level.
He handles any ground and is still relatively lightly raced.
GOLD CUP: A PLUS TARD 9-1
He can improve past stablemate Minella Indo who he chased home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season.
He’s a year younger and has a cracking Festival record thanks to his Close Brothers Chase win in 2019 and Ryanair placing the following season.
He needs to turn last year’s form around but is capable of that.
A £1 Lucky 15 at those prices would pay £6467.
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