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Cheltenham Festival: Outsiders to watch

The Cheltenham Festival is now a little less than three weeks away, inching so close we can almost hear that curtain-raising Cotswolds roar starting to bubble up..

The Festival takes place from Tuesday 14th March through until Friday 17th March and all the action can be followed via the bet365 live Sports Live Streaming platform.

With the countdown in full swing, we've picked a trio of outsiders who might well be worth watching in the Cotswolds.

Champion Hurdle

I Like To Move It @ 20/1

3.30 Cheltenham, Tuesday 14th March

The feature race on day one is seemingly going to be a procession for Constitution Hill, the 1/3 market leader, with State Man at 11/4 his only rival currently trading at single-figure odds.

There are still 14 entered in the two-mile Championship. With the four mares most probably going somewhere else, that number drops to ten and it's conceivable more still will be no-shows come the day.

Constitution Hill will surely win if he runs to form and nothing goes amiss, but this is jumps racing and things can get strange.

I LIKE TO MOVE IT (20/1) was impressive in his Kingwell win at Wincanton, careering away from Knappers Hill and First Street.

He won the Greatwood over the course and distance earlier in the season and trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies - never one to shirk a challenge - has confirmed he will not be running scared of the Champion Hurdle favourite.

At the current three-places offered each-way, there's some juice in having I Like To Move It onside and who knows what else could happen on the day.

Mares' Novices' Hurdle

Magical Zoe @ 12/1

4.50 Cheltenham, Thursday 16th March

Luccia is another Nicky Henderson-trained hotpot and trades as 7/4 favourite for the Mares' Novices' Hurdle after her recent Exeter romp.

She still holds an entry in the Supreme, but will surely turn up here and prove tough to beat.

Fancied runners in this race have come unstuck in recent times and Henry De Bromhead, who won with Telmesomethinggirl in 2021, is one of only two trainers to break the Willie Mullins stranglehold on a race that was added to the Cheltenham Festival programme in 2016.

The race this year is set to be run in memory of Jack De Bromhead and understandably it's a race the Waterford trainer would dearly love to win.

We haven't seen 10/1 MAGICAL ZOE since she won a Grade 3 at Down Royal in November, taking her record to 3-3 under Rules with that second win over timber.

She had a couple of subsequent Listed winners as well as The Model Kingdom in behind, with Noel Meade's runner second in a Grade 2 at Punchestown in January.

This race was pin-pointed for her after Down Royal and it's notable she hasn't appeared since. She has already shown her ability to go well fresh and should be a key contender come the day.

Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

Authorised Speed @ 50/1

1.30 Cheltenham, Wednesday 15th March

This one will take faith but 50/1 AUTHORISED SPEED went into the Tolworth at Sandown in January as the red-hot 5/4fav and clearly didn't give his true running as he was cooked from before two out.

He'd won his first two hurdles starts in pleasing fashion over 2m3½f at Lingfield and at Sandown over the minimum trip.

He was fifth last March in the Champion Bumper, best of the British on the day, and so has that course form to lean on.

Moore was sure the Tolworth was '100 per cent not his true running' and, while he retains an entry in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, he's heading this weekend for the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell over an extended 2m3f.

If he gets a decent win there, surely the Ballymore would be the best Festival option. In that case the current price on offer surely wouldn't survive long.

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