We are just a couple of months away from the 2019 Cheltenham Festival – the biggest meeting anywhere in the world in National Hunt Racing. The four-day festival features 28 races, therefore, the stars of each division all face off where they will be looking to add their name to the history books at this famous meeting.

Here is a look at the biggest stars at Cheltenham this year and which race they will feature in this time around.

Buveur d’Air

The Champion Hurdle has been dominated by Buveur d’Air over the last couple of years and if successful this year in the premier hurdle contest, Nicky Henderson’s runner will become one of only six horses to have completed a hat-trick in the race. The last horse who achieved this feat was Istabraq in 2000.

Credit: At The Races via Twitter

Buveur d’Air is +225 in the betting to land the 2019 Cheltenham Hurdle and he may have to do so on the back of his first defeat since 2016 as he was second recently in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. It will be interesting to see how the eight-year-old bounces back from that loss as, until that point, it looked hard to see him being beaten in this division. A victory at the Festival once again would cement Buveur d’Air’s place as one of the best hurdlers of his generation.

Apple’s Jade

Apple’s Jade will be making her fourth appearance the Cheltenham Festival this year and she goes into the meeting as one of the leading mares in training today. The 2017 Mares’ Hurdle winner is looking to regain her crown in the contest for female horses.

When she was successful two years ago she came out on top in a renewal which included Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini. Unfortunately for connections, she could only finish third last March behind Benie Des Dieux and Midnight Tour respectively.  

Gordon Elliott’s mare has won all of her three races so far this season, therefore, she is going to be very popular with punters at +250. Those backing her can take advantage of all the leading Cheltenham Festival free bets on the Tuesday of the meeting in what could be the best day’s racing of the year.


Since being campaigned over fences in November 2016, Altior remains unbeaten in what has been 12 races now. Henderson’s star chaser has won seven Group One chases including the Arkle Trophy and Queen Mother Champion Chase. All eyes will be on the leading two-mile chaser in the feature race on day two of the meeting this year where he will be defending his crown in the QMCC.

This division has seen some great horses over the last couple of decades including Master Minded and Sprinter Sacre. Altior though is very much on course to not only add his name along those great horses, he could eclipse their records if he remains unbeaten throughout his career in chasing.

The defending champion is -250 in the latest Queen Mother Champion Chase betting and it will take a brave person to bet against the horse this year.

Tiger Roll

Tiger Roll provided his connections with one of their proudest moments last April when he landed the most famous steeplechase in the world – the Grand National at Aintree. The Irish trained horse stayed on better than any of his rivals in the four-mile, three-and-a-half-furlong contest in 2018 to add to his Cheltenham Festival success that same year in the Cross Country Chase.

Credit: Racing Post via Twitter

Elliott’s runner will be trained this year to peak once again in March for the Festival and an attempt at a repeat success in the Grand National. The Cross Country course at Cheltenham provides one of the most unique races in National Hunt racing as the horses are asked to jump all kinds of different obstacles including a tree trunk, water and bushes.

Tiger Roll has proved that he has fantastic stamina for the staying races so it will be great to see him negotiate the Cross Country course once again at Cheltenham where he can be backed at +500 to come out on top.

Native River

The best performance of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival was arguably seen on the final day of the meeting in the biggest race of them all when Native River claimed the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the very first time. The manner in which Colin Tizzard’s runner won the Blue Riband contest was so impressive as he set such a strong pace from the off, yet was still able to storm up the famous hill in first place.

Given his success in the Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh Grand National, Native River was always going to appreciate the stamina test presented in the Gold Cup which was run in testing conditions last March.

The nine-year-old now has the opportunity to become the first back-to-back winner of the race since Best Mate in 2004. The likes of Kauto Star, Denman and Long Run have all failed to retain their crown, therefore, it is a big opportunity for Tizzard’s horse to do something special.

The biggest threat to the champion this year could come from the young brigade including last season’s RSA Chase winner Presenting Percy who is the +400 favourite in the ante-post betting, with Native River available to be backed at +600.

Although the above five horses are very much established, the Festival is also the opportunity for many horses to make a name for themselves so it is going to be exciting to see who the next big things in the sport are at the end of the week.