The Cheltenham Festival has grown so much in stature and prestige that just to win any race at the event is enough to send owners home happy. Yes, much of the focus is on the 'big ones' like the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup, but a win at the Festival is proudly put on a CV regardless of which race it occurs in.
In that light, it may be worth taking a look at some of the runners (nearly) guaranteed for glory at the 2018 Festival, which will be held from March 13th-16th. If you like the look of these, you can check out the latest 2018 free bets for all Cheltenham races and back a few for the win. The odds are taken from William Hill's special market – To Win Any Race at the Festival – but you can get a better price if you opt for a specific race.
Buveur D'Air: Odds 1/2
Likely Race: Champion Hurdle.
Chances of Success: 8/10.
A horse that finds itself pushed to the top, not just because it is an excellent hurdler, but also because his chief rival, Faugheen, has serious questions over his fitness. Imagine Mohammed Ali turning up for the Rumble in the Jungle, only to find George Foreman has a broken wrist and you get the picture. This should be a cracker though, with Buveur D'Air ready to show the world that he can step out of Faugheen's shadow.
Apple's Jade: Odds 4/5
Likely Race: Mares' Hurdle.
Chances of Success: 9/10.
Apple's Jade is the lady that everyone is talking about at the moment. The mare, who is trained by Gordon Elliott as part of Ireland's hugely successful Gigginstown operation, won this race ahead of the excellent Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag last year. She hasn't looked back either, winning all four of her top-class races since that victory. Put simply, if Apple's Jade is not in the Winners' Enclosure at some point during the Festival, it will be one of the biggest shocks in recent years.
Footpad: Odds 11/10
Likely Race: Arkle Chase
Chances of Success: 7/10
It is accepted wisdom in horse racing that those who have so-so careers over hurdles can still potentially have brilliant careers in chasing. Willie Mullins is hoping Footpad can be one such example. The six-year-old has had two starts over fences, both of them wins, both of them by over 10 lengths. He may meet a different calibre of horse in the Arkle Chase though, with Sceau Royal and Petit Mouchoir's connections also fancying their chances.
Samcro: Odds 5/4
Likely Race: Ballymore Novices Hurdle (AKA Neptune Investment Hurdle)
Chances of Success: 8/10
Another Gigginstown success story trained by Gordon Elliott. Samcro is undefeated so far in his short career. This will be his first run in the UK however, with all five of those wins having taken place in Ireland. Samcro looks to have a very bright future ahead of him and he may keep his unbeaten record in 2018 and beyond. He has never been priced higher than 8/11 to win a race, so consider it a value bet to find him at odds against to win any race at the Festival this year.