Nearly 4 weeks to go and another weekend full of clues for the Cheltenham Festival has just passed – and some more bets for the Ante Post portfolio have emerged.
Arkle Chase 10th March
Un De Sceaux is standing head and shoulders above his rivals now for this (8/13 best with traditional books – close to 8/11 on Betfair). He could well be a class above the rest but I think I would be watching from behind the sofa over the first few fences if I had backed him after seeing him fall on his first foray over the bigger obstacles this year.
With question marks over Josses Hill’s jumping now the bet against the fav has to be Vibrato Valtat after a ruthlessly efficient display to win at Warwick on Saturday. In disposing of the highly promising Top Gamble with the minimum of fuss he looked a horse who is firmly on the upward curve and could be heading for a handicap mark close to 160.
That would give him a fine chance in any normal rendition of this race. He looks a very safe jumper and unlike the fav and almost every other likely runner in the race (there may not be many on the day!) he has jumped round the chase course at Cheltenham.
If the favourite does jump round safely he may be unstoppable but it’s highly unlikely that the selection will get involved with him early and will ride a stalking race which should secure him a place at the very least. The majority of his form does come on soft ground – and it should be a bit better than that on the day – but there’s not enough to suggest that good ground won’t be a significant impediment for me.
7/1 for win odds is fair enough but it’s the place angle that’s more important here, getting 7/4 for something that’s probably no better than Evens to happen
2pts ew Vibrato Valtat 7/1 (365, SportingBet, Boyles, Betfair Sportsbook)
Up to date odds available here: http://www.oddschecker.com/cheltenham-festival/arkle-trophy/winner
Champion Hurdle 10th Mar
I have been toying with this one for a while and alluded to it in an earlier posting this year but cannot really get away with not selecting Jezki each way at 6/1 now with Non Runner No Bet available.
This price has been teetering on Betfair in recent days and I can see it being shorter on the day with the AP McCoy factor now likely to be an even bigger draw to backers. I’ve seen other tipsters put up the same bet in recent weeks so it’s now time to jump on this particular bandwagon as well!
In contrast, current fav Faugheen must surely be one the layer will want to take money on nearer the race. 5/4 is the best available right now but I can see bigger than that occurring on race day.
Jezki is the choice as he’s the one who already has the t-shirt here. He is defending champion and we know the likely better ground and strong pace will be much more to his liking than previous races this season (as it was last season).
Faugheen has been mightily impressive this season but has yet to beat anything of the class of Jezki or The New One.
I am not dismissing The New One at all from calculations – he was unlucky last year but often seems to hit a hurdle and that could be costly again at this level. I rate his chances on a par with Jezki here but the selection is double the price and that’s why he’s the clear pick.
I’m still far from convinced that Hurricane Fly will run if the ground gets better – this course just doesn’t suit him as well as Leopardstown – and I think team Mullins will find an excuse to keep him at home once Ruby walsh picks Faugheen as his mount.
That really means it’s a 3 horse race for me and it’s again the place angle that sways this bet with 6/4 being taken for Jezki to be in the frame
2pts ew Jezki 6/1 – take the Non Runner No Bet offer with Paddy Power, Coral or Winner
Latest odds here: http://www.oddschecker.com/cheltenham-festival/champion-hurdle/winner
I would also suggest an each way double on the two selections above for an extra shot at getting the place odds bonus
1pt ew double Vibrato Valtat 6/1 and Jezki 6/1 (Winner Sports) – a bit of shopping around needed to get best odds on the double as best odds not available for both at the same firm – over 5/1 for the place double should be possible though
Neptune Novice Hurdle 11th March
This was a race without any real standout contenders I thought until watching Sunday’s Deloitte Novice Hurdle finish fought out between Nichols Canyon and Windsor Park.
This race over 2ml 2fur can be a key for either Tuesday’s Supreme or this race on Wednesday in many years and here these two proved far too good for what looked a strong field.
Both looked to be types who would appreciate further and the Neptune would be the race for them.
If this race were NRNB I would probably back both at their respective odds of 8/1 and 12/1. However, Nichols Canyon is from team Mullins and there’s always that seed of doubt with that stable as to how the cards will be shuffled and which race he will end up in(owner also has Shaneshill asa possible for this race).
Although Windsor Park is entered in other novice races and nothing has been confirmed, I don’t really see why he should go for any other race. He’s been highly regarded as a dual purpose stayer (sometimes in same breath as the stable’s Ascot Gold Cup hope Forgotten Rules) and the way he raced on Sunday suggested he needed further.
Better ground should be likely at Cheltenham and this should suit him admirably as he really is bred to win a Classic on the flat being by Galileo.
An earlier interview on At The Races on Sunday with jockey Davy Russell convinced me that he really was seeing Sunday’s race as a stepping stone for this one and for Lord Windermere later in the day – he ‘would have been happy with a place’. But in the end he was the eyecatcher for me, not looking to be a contender down the back straight but doing all of his best work at the finish. For all of the Racing Post’s comment that Nichols Canyon won ‘comfortably’, I don’t think there will be much between these two at Cheltenham and so am going for the bigger odds chance who I feel fairly sure will be turning up here rather than one of the other events
1pt ew Windsor Park 12/1 (Skybet, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Winner)
Odds comparisons here: http://www.oddschecker.com/cheltenham-festival/neptune-novices-hurdle/winner
thanks for reading – comments as always most appreciated
- Initial bank 50pts
Current balance 26pts
Ante Post bets 24pts staked (with some updated info on previous selections :
2pts ew Saphir Du Rheu 8/1 World Hurdle
1pt ew Champagne West 16/1 RSA Chase
- (unfortunately out for the season with hock injury – so with ante post rules this bet is now a loser unless the race does not take place)
1pt ew Southfield Theatre 20/1 RSA Chase
Put up by Pricewise last week and had a nice trial over an inadequate trip to win at Exeter on Sunday. RSA is now the confirmed target and 14/1 is the best price currently available)
1pt ew Blaklion 12/1 Albert Bartlett Hurdle
1pt ew Godsmejudge 28/1 Grand National
- 2pts ew Vibrato Valtat 7/1 Arkle Chase
- 2pts ew Jezki 6/1 NRNB Champion Hurdle
- 1pt ew double Vibrato Valtat 6/1 & Jezki 6/1
- 1pt ew Windsor Park 12/1 Neptune Novice Hurdle