Cheltenham Festival tips - Four horses favoured by soft ground as rain forecast
The 2023 Cheltenham Festival is set to open on soft ground, conditions that earlier this month appeared highly unlikely.
The going has changed the complexion of some races with a number of contenders having trialled for the meeting on quicker ground.
If the weather forecast proves accurate, Tuesday will be mainly dry after early showers but Wednesday could be rather unpleasant with rain or sleet predicted.
Racing takes place on the Old track during the first two days before switching to the New course on Thursday where conditions are generally a little quicker.
Here are some horses set to be favoured by soft ground during the first two days of the Cheltenham Festival.
But for a last time out defeat the son of the legendary Quevega would be one of the hottest favourites of the week.
He bombed out at the Dublin Racing Festival where he was odds-on to stretch his unbeaten run to seven.
Yet he finished 20 lengths behind stablemate Il Etait Temps after setting a hot pace he was unable to maintain.
On soft ground over Christmas, Facile Vega defeated Il Etait Temps with minimal fuss. He won last year’s Bumper on heavy so the more rain the better.
There won’t be a dry eye in the house if Honeysuckle bows out in triumph in the Mares’ race.
This was the contest where her Cheltenham Festival story began in March 2020 when she defeated Benie Des Dieux and will now end.
She went on to win two editions of the Champion Hurdle but, because of the emergence of Constitution Hill and her own apparent decline in form, she is back tackling her own sex.
On past evidence there are few better trainers than Henry de Bromhead at getting a horse ready for this meeting.
Honeysuckle surrendered her Irish Champion Hurdle crown rather meekly last month but on soft ground her run behind Teahupoo, which brought an end to her 16-race unbeaten streak, was up with her best.
Last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up has not looked a natural convert to chasing.
Yet he was quite impressive on his latest start when he won the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase by 15 lengths in first-time cheekpieces, which are retained.
He has won three times on soft ground and finished placed in another two, from six attempts, and his class can’t be faulted as a Grade 1-winning 3m hurdler.
He could provide a perfect start for the new training partnership of Philip Hobbs and long-time assistant Johnson White.
In soft conditions stamina will matter to help horses get up the Cheltenham hill and Fact To File has shown plenty of that.
The winner of a 3m point-to-point on soft ground made a winning debut in a 2m4f bumper for Willie Mullins at Leopardstown over Christmas.
He was beaten just under three lengths by favourite A Dream To Share last month but if their rematch becomes a staying test the tables could be turned.