Horse Racing tips: Monkfish & Zanahiyr look leading Cheltenham Festival players

That Festival tracker will be bursting by Christmas at this rate.

*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules.

Monkfish (Timeform rating c148p)

Plenty has been made recently about last year’s top novice hurdlers making up into impressive chasers, Envoi Allen is yet to put a foot wrong over fences, while Shishkin made an equally impressive chasing debut recently. Monkfish probably isn’t as high profile as those two, but he is a hugely exciting prospect in his own right, and he made a similarly taking winning start over fences at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

An impressive winner of the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival on his final appearance last season, Monkfish always appealed as the type to make up into an even better chaser, and this season’s RSA looks an obvious target for him immediately after his success last weekend.

Monkfish started the odds-on favourite and made short work of some useful rivals. Never far away, Willie Mullins’s charge jumped accurately and, after moving into the lead at four out, he asserted his dominance on the field, winning with plenty in hand.

His price for the RSA halved after that performance, but considering he will take all the beating in the staying novice ranks over the coming months, there is every chance it could shorten further as Monkfish progresses.

Zanahiyr (Timefrom rating h141p)

Gordon Elliott enjoyed a good day at Fairyhouse on Sunday, the Irish trainer landing a four-timer, and while it will no doubt be Envoi Allen and Ballyadam who will grab the headlines, the performance produced by Zanahiyr in the Grade 3 Juvenile Hurdle is certainly one worth noting.

Gordon Elliott holds a very strong hand when it comes to juvenile hurdlers, in fact, Zanahiyr’s victory on Sunday took Elliott’s tally in Irish juvenile contests to 10 from 19. Despite the plethora of talented juveniles at his disposal, however, it is very possible that Zanahiyr could prove the best of the lot.

Zanahiyr was not sent off favourite for the race on Sunday, that honour was saved for Saint Sam, Willie Mullins’s well-touted French recruit, but Elliott’s charge easily brushed him aside. Zanahiyr jumped well and travelled smoothly, and after getting upsides three out, he powered away before the last, forging clear to win comfortably.

Zanahiyr is reportedly likely to have one more run in Ireland before heading to the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

My Drogo (Timeform rating h114P)

The novice hurdle that My Drogo won at Newbury on Friday has been won by the likes of Buveur d’Air and Lostintranslation in recent years, and there is every chance that Dan Skelton’s charge can himself develop into a useful prospect.

A rangy sort, My Drogo was one of the picks on looks when making his debut in a Cheltenham bumper last month, and he made a highly promising start to his career, he and the winner pulling nicely clear late on, My Drogo just unable to reel in a Nicky Henderson newcomer who showed abundant stamina.

My Drogo built on that performance when making a winning start over hurdles at Newbury on Friday, travelling well before quickening to lead late on, value for a fair bit more than the bare form would indicate.

That form may be a little suspect, the odds-on favourite was way too keen and most of those in the rear half of the field were never likely to have got competitive the way things unfolded, but don’t take anything away from My Drogo, who really looks the part and is sure to go on to better things.

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