Mick Fitzgerald: My five to follow for the Cheltenham Festival

ITV Racing’s star pundit looks ahead to the great festival and uses his expert knowledge to pick us out a fabulous five for the week…

Trying to pick five horses for Cheltenham is not as easy as you think!

It’s hard to leave one out that is on the fringe. I do, however, have a rule.

If I am torn between two or three horses, I will always go for the one with the best Festival record. It never ceases to amaze me how often some horses raise their game for Cheltenham.

The flip side of that is how often horses don’t deliver the goods there!

I have tried to pick five horses who are reasonably priced and represent some value, it is easy to say the favourites in every race, but I have delved deeper to pick horses who have decent festival records and are value bets in open races.

Find the latest Horse Racing odds over at PaddyPower.com

L’ami Serge

L’ami Serge has an excellent record at the Cheltenham having been placed in a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, JLT Novices Chase and he was just pipped in last year’s County Hurdle.

He’s a hold-up horse in the Stayers’ Hurdle, which looks like it will be a truly run race. Daryl Jacob knows him really well now and because he’s not a favourite you can just tool around out the back on a horse like him and have one go at the field.

Just think, he’s a French Champion Hurdle winner over 3miles, who ran Sam Spinner to a few lengths at Ascot. I reckon Jacob can try mug them late here. He is a great each-way bet at 10/1 because of the way he’ll be ridden.


This is a bit of a cop out I know, but I firmly believe if the ground comes up very soft at the festival, Henry De Bromhead will be really tempted to run Monalee in the JLT Novices Chase and he’s non-runner, no bet with PP if he doesn’t go.

I don’t believe the JLT is a race full of young superstars from what we have seen and this horse faded late on, having travelled almost too well in last year’s Albert Bartlett.

He has jumped classily in his two wins this season, but did have an X-rated fall in between. Noel Fehily loved him when he won on him at Leopardstown last month though, and he feels Monalee (5/2) is a smart young chaser.

The King Of May

I was in the North East doing a preview night at Rockliffe Hall in Darlington with Brian Ellison this week and he was really keen on his own horse as an each-way in the Fred Winter called The King Of May (16/1).

This horse didn’t finish that far behind Act Of Valour at Musselburgh and Brian feels he has improved since then. So that’s enough for me.

Cloudy Dream

Cloudy Dream has tried out a variety of trips this season and he finished second last year in the Arkle to Altior.

This campaign has been a bit of a head scratcher, but he’s talented and with Un De Sceaux in the race they are bound to go at a good gallop.

This horse travels in his races and I can’t see him out of the first three.


I’m aware Laurina is a short price for the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at 4/7, but she has looked so good in her wins this year.

For me, she is going to be very hard to beat in his one.

Willie Mullins has a great record in this race and if we get a soft ground festival, she’ll be an even shorter price.

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* All odds correct at time of posting.