The Cheltenham Festival is a huge occasion in the national hunt calendar, with many of the best horses from both the UK and Ireland clashing to determine who is the real champion. While the feature races each day will grab the headlines, elsewhere there should be plenty of Grand National clues on offer, with horses having their final prep runs before heading to Aintree for the big one. There are many horses worth keeping an eye on over the festival, and here are just a few of them for you.

Total Recall and Minella Rocco – Gold Cup

Both of these horses are near the front of the market for the Grand National, so make sure you pay attention to both of them. The softer the ground we have for the Gold Cup, the more emphasis on stamina there will be and the more likely we are to see these two staying on past beaten horses. Of the two, Total Recall looks to be the classier individual and would have a better chance of placing in the Gold Cup, but Minella Rocco will not give up and should charge up the Cheltenham hill as other horses begin to tire.

Both should run well, but neither looks capable of placing unless the going is very soft, but this run will put them spot on for the National. Should either of them manage to place, or even win the race then they will really enhance their Aintree chances.

Cause of Causes and The Last Samuri – Cross Country

These two are prospects that are far more interesting because they have a genuine chance of winning their races at Cheltenham. Cause of Causes is the favourite for the Cross Country right now, while The Last Samuri is not too far behind. This race is over further than the Gold Cup, so the stamina of these two horses will come into play. It is a race that Cause of Causes won last year, before going onto place in the Grand National, so it is clearly a race that he likes and one that should put him in good shape for his big day at Aintree.

With this race lacking the class of a Gold Cup, more is expected of these two runners and a disappointing run would see them ease in the Grand National betting market. However, a victory here for either of them would propel them close to favouritism for the big race in April, especially if we see two disappointing runs from the Gold Cup runners.

We won’t see the favourite for the Grand National, Blaklion at the Cheltenham Festival, Nigel Twiston-Davies has decided to avoid it this year. While he sits in his horse box and prepares for the big race, his rivals will be on the course looking to do enough to show they should be the favourite for the big race. With four Grand National hopefuls running across two races, we are sure to see changes in the betting market after the Cheltenham Festival.