Build your Cheltenham Free Bet Pot: Betfair’s in-house tipping competition



This weekend marks the third week of our our fantastic Cheltenham Festival offer. By betting Β£20 on the Exchange each Saturday, we’ll give you a Β£10 free bet for the Festival. (T&Cs apply – click for details)

To help you navigate you and build your pot, Betfair’s Neil Hubbard and Nathan Joyes and Timeform’s Andy Asquith will be selecting their best picks across UK and Irish racing.

Andy lines up two selections…

13:15 Kempton – Encore Champs – Β£10 Win

Dan and Harry Skelton are absolutely flying at present and Encore Champs leaps off the page having his first start for the yard in the first race at Kempton on Saturday. He won a couple of novice hurdles (useful form) for Warren Greatrex in 2018/19 and managed to notch a win over fences on his first try at this trip last season.

He won by 17 lengths that day and the handicapper hit him with a 10lb rise, but he just wasn’t in the same form on his next two starts, falling when last seen at this course in March last year. Encore Champs is still only a seven-year-old, though, and has joined a yard that enjoy tremendous success with new recruits. Furthermore, he has undergone a wind operation since last seen, and could potentially blow a mark of 130 out of the water back over hurdles.

16:25 Newcastle – Seemorelights – Β£10 Win

Seemorelights made an encouraging start over fences when finishing runner-up at Ayr in November, splitting a couple of useful sorts who have boosted the form since. He was unable to confirm the form with Marown on revised terms when only third upped to two and a half miles back at Ayr last time, but Seemorelights probably did too much too soon out in front in conditions that were testing enough.

The winner Marown has since finished runner-up in a Grade 2 and a useful handicap, so the form is solid, and an opening mark of 125 could underestimate Seemorelights now handicapping in this sphere.

Nathan’s mud lover to regain title

15:15 Newcastle – Crosspark Β£10 E/W

My 11/1 shot last week, Achille, was done by half a length over the mammoth 3m4f trip over at Haydock, which was won by Lord Du Mesnil. There’s no time to sulk, but what I can do is learn from that race and put the lessons into this week’s selection.

Lord Du Mesnil was second in the Grand National Trial last year, and clearly showed he was a stout stayer and course enthusiast – and that’s the route I’m playing this week.

In the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase over at Newcastle, the 4m1Β½f trip won’t suit everyone, especially with the ground expected to be on the soft side. However, one horse it will suit is Caroline Bailey’s Crosspark, who won this race in 2019.

Since a 272-day break, the eleven-year-old returned to action at Chepstow, and has since recorded four consecutive seconds, where the turn of pace has caught him out. This shouldn’t be the case over the extended 4m on Saturday, where it will be more of a stamina test if anything, and it’s worth noting he’s the only horse in the field to win over this far.

Matt Sheppard’s Cyclop could well be the danger, with Brian Hughes aboard, who has proven to relish these conditions and has shown he always has plenty in the tank this season. But I’m sticking with the veteran who has been there and done it I’m not sure 5/1 will hold on the day.

Neil’s chasing at Chelmsford

18:30 Chelmsford – Sir Hector – Β£10 E/W

It’s perhaps no shock to read that for a class 6 handicap a fair few of these have questions to answer and/or aren’t the most reliable. Sir Hector, however, has a strike rate of near 63% for finishing in the first three over his career on the all weather, which isn’t too shabby for a horse who plies his trade in this sort of contest.

In fact, when you look at this record in this grade over this course and distance it reads an impressive 2-3-1-3-2. It’s hard to make a case to say he’s particularly well handicapped, running here 4lb above his last winning mark but you don’t always have to bet into the Win markets, and he looks a solid place only bet. His low draw and the booking of Luke Morris being further endorsements to his chances of running well.