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Cheltenham Festival is one of the highlights of the horseracing calendar

Cheltenham Festival is one of the highlights of the horseracing calendar and it’s a haven for punters. We pick out some of the best selections to get behind for this year’s Gold Cup. Read our betting guide for insight into this year’s race.

One of the most exciting fixtures of the sporting calendar will soon jump into view when the Gold Cup is contested at Cheltenham Festival next month. National Hunt meets don’t come much bigger than a race that’s referred to as the blue riband event of the sport. Not that we need to tell you too much about it. Whispers of Cheltenham begin at the turn of every year, rumours abound of a mirage of galloping horses spotted upon the horizon. The wait is almost over.

For the people in attendance, the experience is second to none. Witnessing history unfold before your eyes, legends being born, is a treat like no other. Little wonder that the mood is so good around the town. It is a party after all. Beyond the racing, beyond the betting. When crumpled-up slips are thrown on the ground and apps for wagers are despairingly closed, there’s plenty to console oneself within the surrounding festivities. But it is not yet time to think of consolation prizes. While most of the £1 billion spent by punters ends up in the pockets of bookies, there is success to be found at an event famous for its triumphs. The annals of history suggest that the most studious of punters could be rewarded for their knowledge.

We’ve poured over the contenders to win this year’s £625,000 prize money and have come up with some tips for Cheltenham Gold Cup betting 2019. The first place to start with is last year’s top two, who are set to face off once more. Native River took the plaudits with his 2018 win and rightfully so. He took the cup by four-and-a-half lengths and looks primed to repeat the trick this time around. The Irish-born, British-trained thoroughbred is priced at 11/2 with Betfair to do the double. His rival Might Bite is available at a much bigger price despite his performance last year. That’s probably because he has had a poor season thus far. Paddy Power offers odds of 20/1 on the ten-year-old triumphing in an underdog capacity.

There are plenty of other contenders who are chomping at the bit to shove those two out of the limelight. Presenting Percy is the favourite for this year’s race with Betway offering odds of 3/1 on the Patrick G. Kelly-trained eight-year-old. His form suggests he may be at his physical prime and it’s understandable that there is so much hype about his performance in the build-up. Last year’s RSA Chase winner, Presenting Percy will take some beating. If it was not for a pelvic injury suffered at a Christmas meeting, we would tip Sizing John to give Percy a good race. Taking his injury into account, John would still be a good each-way bet. William Hill offers 25/1 on Jessica Harrington’s prized horse causing an upset. If he was able to win the Gold Cup – as he did in 2017 – after so long out of action it would be a story for the ages. He has the pedigree – it all depends on how fit he will be on the day.

Another outsider for the prize worthy of consideration is Road to Respect. He finished fourth last time out and could follow Native River’s lead by leaping from fourth to first within the space of a year. The eight-year-old stud has already won a Grade 1 this season. He beat Balko Des Flos in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown. His Leopardstown runs hinted at how well he could perform if the ground is good at Cheltenham. Noel Meade has never won a Gold Cup before but this could be his year. Road to Respect is available at odds of 14/1 with Bet365. That kind of price warrants a quid on an each-way punt.

Now you know the biggest players in this year’s race. You can make up your own mind and decide who you’re backing before sitting back and relaxing. Until the day itself, that is. Then, rather than sitting back and sinking in the cushion of your armchair, you’ll be on the edge of your seat, eyes bulging out of your skull as though desperate to gallop across the finish line themselves. While you will urge on your pick with every fibre of your being, you’ll realise that the magic of Cheltenham is simply taking part. Although winning is pretty magical too.