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Cheltenham Festival: Outsiders to watch

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

The Festival takes place from Tuesday 12th March to Friday 15th March and all the action can be followed via the bet365 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.

Supreme Novices' Hurdle - NRNB

Asian Master @ 25/1

1.30 Cheltenham, Tuesday 12th March

If the betting is to be believed, the opening race on day one is seemingly going to go the way of Ballyburn, the 1/1 market leader, with Mystical Power his nearest rival at 4/1

Willie Mullins clearly has a stranglehold on the race with both the favourite and the second favourite in the antepost market, but one of the stable outsiders who seems to be forgotten is ASIAN MASTER (25/1). 

A seven-year-old son of Shirocco, the gelding is lightly raced for his age, and he couldn't have been more visually striking when beating a very good horse in Better Days Ahead with utter ease over two miles at Navan in January. 

The form of his 2m maiden hurdle victory at Thurles in December has also worked out very well, with Jimmy Du Seuil (2nd), Farmers Lodge (4th), and Noble Talent (10th) all winning since. 

Asian Master also chased home Fact To File in a Belharbour point in 2022. 

He has an entry for the Baring Bingham, but he showed plenty of speed the last day and if there's any bit of soft in the ground on the day, he will more than likely line up in the Supreme.

Horse Racing

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle - NRNB

White Rhino @ 12/1

2.10 Cheltenham, Thursday 14th March

Joint-trainers Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero landed handicap success when Iroko won the Martin Pipe at last year's Festival, and they could have another well-handicapped runner this year in the Pertemps, courtesy of WHITE RHINO (12/1). 

Rated just 74 when winning his handicap hurdling debut at Southwell 12 months ago, the eight-year-old has won four times over hurdles subsequently and is now rated 129 which should be enough to get him qualified for his main target. 

White Rhino also has good course form. He only found one too good here over 2m5f at the November Meeting, but went one better a month later over three miles, eating the hill as if it wasn't there. 

Clearly, his handlers have found the key to him, and a rating of 129 still looks rather lenient given his progressive profile. 

There will be many dangers in the race, particularly those from Ireland, but they hopefully won't be coming across the water with very lenient marks.

Triumph Hurdle - NRNB

Nurburgring @ 14/1

1.30 Cheltenham, Friday 15th March

It's not too often you will see an odds-on favourite for a Triumph Hurdle weeks in advance of the race, but Nicky Henderson's Sir Gino (4/5) created a huge impression in the Triumph Trial over course and distance in January and the bookmakers have run for cover. 

A Listed winner over hurdles at Auteuil when trained in France by Candy Lerner, he was subsequently bought by Joe Donnelly, who also bought the second in that race in France, Salvator Mundi, who is now trained by Willie Mullins. 

Sir Gino left one of the race's market leaders Burdett Road trailing in his wake last time and is entitled to hose up, but he is of no value at the prices. 

With that in mind, a chance is taken on Joseph O'Brien's NURBURGRING (14/1), who looks like a Grade 1 winner in waiting off the back of two really good efforts in December. 

Despite a couple of jumping errors and also being hampered as the race heated up, the son of Zoffany showed a lot of class when beating Kala Conti by half-a-length in the Grade 3 juvenile hurdle on Hatton's Grace Day at Fairyhouse. 

Nurburgring lost nothing in defeat when a close third behind Kala Conti and Kargese at Leopardstown on Boxing Day - the form of which has been seriously boosted with Kargese winning the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival. 

The selection gave Kargese 7lb when they met, and given he was only a nose behind the filly on that occasion, he has to be a serious contender in the Triumph if that form is taken at face value.

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