It’s still more than two months before the Cheltenham Festival but the battle of the bookies to win your betting pound has begun. Three major operators will give you your money back if a horse you back in five of the most prestigious races do not take part. You can combine this concession with best odds guaranteed which means bets will be settled at SP if that is a bigger price than the ante post price. The non-runner no bet offer has never been introduced in January before but three bookmakers will refund stakes on ante post wagers on horses withdrawn before the race day.
Here are some ante-post pointers for the five Festival races that apply:
Faugheen’s inexplicably bad run in Ireland over Christmas made it a one horse race before the markets readjusted. Buveur D’Air would merely have to turn up and jump around the course to win the Champion Hurdle again. However, Faugheen has been introduced back into the betting but the horse now has many questions to answer. Assuming Buveur D’Air is home and hosed we must now identify some each way value. APPLES JADE would get the mare’s allowance and that could persuade connections to go down the Champion Hurdle route.
Market leader Altior is some punters banker of the meeting and the horse’s form for this race is in the book. Politologue is the new kid on the block, proven at the highest level and is a worthy second favourite. Special Tiara won last year’s race but a recent fall at Kempton does not augur well when under pressure in Politologue’s last race. Charbel was upsides to Altior before falling at the second last in the Arkle Chase. The horse was still going quite well and would not necessarily have been outpaced up the hill. Even so at the ante post odds CHARBEL is an ante post wager worth making.
Sadly Nichols Canyon who the race last season suffered a fatal accident at Leopardstown over Christmas. Despite not winning the stayer’s championship for hurdlers Unowhatimeanharry had the best form leading up to the race. The horse then won at Punchestown and made a winning start to the season but was disappointing in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December after finishing second to 40/1 shot Beer Goggles at Newbury. SAM SPINNER won the Ascot race and is the favourite for a very open Stayers’ Hurdle but that is justified on form and ratings.
This is the championship chase at the intermediate distance and the betting market is unclear because running plans have not been confirmed. Several of the leading contenders could be targeted at other races and that muddies the waters. CUE CARD is not the force of old and has been tried and exposed in the Gold Cup, falling in the last two renewals. The Ryanair Chase is now being considered and you can’t do much damage at the latest odds and you should get a run.
Might Bite is being trained to run in the Gold Cup and will fall or win the race. The horse won the King George on Boxing day, a race that is seen as the mid-season championship for chasers. Sizing John and Yorkhill blotted their copybooks in Ireland and Thistlecrack finished six lengths behind Might Bite in the King George so needs to show plenty of improvement to reverse the form. MIGHT BITE has given backers some thrill and spills but can win the Gold Cup in 2018 at Cheltenham.