Just a few weeks before the start of the famous Cheltenham Festival, one of the most exciting meetings of the horse racing year in the UK, the markets for the Cheltenham Gold Cup have been thrown into turmoil with the announcement yesterday that the massive favourite for the race has been forced to withdraw.

Thistlecrack, trained by Colin Tizzard, had been the heavily odds on favourite for the race for several months following a stellar season over the jumps in 2016 where he won the World Hurdle at Cheltenham and also the Liverpool Stayers Hurdle at Aintree. Earlier this season in December last year, he beat Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti to win the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

The horse remained favourite despite coming a narrow second to the unfortunate Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, the exertion unfortunately too much for the winner who collapsed at the end of the race and sadly had to be put down.

However, the news yesterday that Thistlecrack will join the likes of Coneygree, Faugheen and Annie Power on the sidelines at Cheltenham due to a torn tendon that will signal the end of his season, was a shock and the announcement that the long time favourite for the Gold Cup will no longer race has thrown the betting wide open.

The new favourite for the race with Bet365 is Native River at 5/2, also trained by Colin Tizzard, while Cue Card, another Tizzard trained thoroughbred is a 3/1 chance. Other fancied runners include Djakadam (11/2), Outlander (7/1), Sizing John (9/1) and Empire of Dirt (12/1). Grab the latest Bet365 bonus code by following the link and you can place a bet on any of the runners or riders right now with Bet365 and get potentially a much better price than on race day.

What is certainly true is that Thistlecrack’s absence has opened up this race to several horses to now be in real contention for the win. Although Cheltenham fans will certainly miss one of the most loved horses in the UK, the fact that he should return fit and healthy around Christmas time means that Thistlecrack’s best chance at winning the Gold Cup will now have to wait until 2018.

This year’s Cheltenham Festival takes place on the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th March and as always features the best of British jump racing. Tune in nearer the time when we will bring you more detailed preview of each days racing as well as some tips for the biggest races of the meeting.

Premier League And Football League Cup Final Tips For The Weekend

If you are looking for some tips for the weekend’s football then don’t worry, we have you covered as it is a busy weekend for the Premier League, with eight matches taking place across three PokerStars Sport Bore Drawdays and also the Football League Cup final taking place at Wembley on Sunday between Manchester United and Southampton.

Premier League Betting Tips

I think there’s a real potential for a nice accumulator this weekend based on some of Saturday’s matches. Chelsea (1/4) are an obvious pick as the Premier League leaders welcome Paul Clement’s improving Swansea City (11/1) side to Stamford Bridge. It is hard to see the Swans getting anything here and as such, Chelsea is an obvious first name on our weekend accumulator.

I’m not going to go with the Palace v Middlesbrough game because at the moment, I just think Palace are a complete unknown and their form is so erratic, it is hard to make a clear judgement call on them. Everton are 4/11 to beat Sunderland (6/1) at home though and they are a solid second selection here. Ronald Koeman has got the Toffees going well at the moment and while defensively there are question marks, Sunderland lack the attacking prowess to cause the blues too many problems.

Next up, I think Hull’s improvement under Mario Silva has been astonishing and they face Burnley (11/4). You can get better than even money on Hull (21/20) winning here against a team that have an appalling away record in the Premier League and I think that is a solid option. Similarly, West Brom are the same price (21/20) to beat an erratic Bournemouth side who can seemingly beat anyone on their day, but also lose to anybody. As such, a consistent West Brom side at home looks a solid choice.

Finally, Watford and West Ham play Saturday night and this looks a very evenly contested game. The bookies certainly feel it will be a close call and I do too, hence I am backing the draw here which is an 11/5 shot.

Place this accumulator now with Bet365 Sport and you will get odds of 21.92/1 on the bet. However, with the Euro Soccer Bonus in play, you will also receive a 10% bonus on your winnings if your bet succeeds. That means for a £10 bet, you would receive back £219.20 profit, plus an extra £21.92 as part of the bonus.

Football League Cup Final Betting Tips

Kicking off at 4.30 on Sunday, Manchester United (8/11) are the strong favourites to lift the English Football League Cup trophy against Southampton (4/1) with the draw at 90 minutes being a 5/2 shot with Bet365 Sport.

These two teams have met at Wembley in a big final before when Bobby Stokes goal in the 1976 FA Cup Final handed Southampton their greatest ever honour, however of the two teams it is Manchester United that have had by far the greater experience in big finals ever since.

My gut feeling is Jose Mourinho will lift his first trophy with Manchester United on Sunday but that 8/11 bet on United just isn’t value enough for me. So what I am going to back is Manchester United to win and both teams to score, which is a 3/1 chance with Bet365 Sport.

My choice for the popular scorecast bet would be the in form Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score the first goal and Manchester United to win 2-1, which is a 25/1 shot with Bet365. For more flexibility with Bet365, you can back Zlatan to score at any time and Manchester United to win 2-1 in an Anytime Scorecast bet, which would pay out at odds of 11/1, which I think is a wiser option.

So why not enjoy a flutter on the football this weekend with Bet365 Sport, remembering too that there will be a huge amount of In Play betting available on all Premier League games across the weekend, as well as the first major final of the season in England on Sunday afternoon.