Despite there being more time before the next Festival than after the last it’s never too early to start making preparations for the action at Prestbury Park. We have devised an ante-post E/W treble to get the blood pumping ahead of next year.
Our Connor to win the Champion Hurdle – 5/1
Our Conor stormed into next year’s Champion Hurdle reckoning with a breathless 15-length demolition of a quality Triumph Hurdle field this March and has to be included in our ante-post treble.
Dessie Hughes stable star had already set pulses racing a month earlier when comfortably running away with the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Handicap and it’s difficult to envisage who will be able to snap his four-race unbeaten career since switching to timber.
Of course, Willie Mullins will have defending champ Hurricane Fly primed for a third attempt at this prize, but age is not on the side of ‘The Fly’, and if not at his very best, a younger Our Conor is primed to replace him at the head of the hurdling division.
Hughes is not a trainer who is susceptible to getting carried away with the moment but it was telling that when asked whether his horse is the one to beat next year the Curragh handler had no hesitation in saying he was.
Simonsig to win the Champion Chase – 5/1
Now, betting against Sprinter Sacre may sound foolish, but stay with it. ‘The Black Aeroplane’ may well be just about the best National Hunt horse we have seen for some time, but the talk since his Melling Chase victory over 2m4f has been of a step up in trip in December’s King George VI Chase, before a possible attempt at the Gold Cup.
For that reason it is Simonsig that is worth taking a chance. Indeed, even if the two Henderson stars do clash, it is hard to imagine the grey not challenging for the places. The seven-year-old has an unbelievable cruising speed, but perhaps more importantly, has shown that he will not go down without a fight, when plugging on well to win the Arkle by 2 ¾ lengths when reportedly not at his best, which speaks volumes about the gelding’s attitude.
Silviniaco Conti to win the Gold Cup– 8/1
Travelling as well as anything when falling 3f out this year, it is hard to say for certain whether Paul Nicholls charge would have challenged Bob’s Worth up the Cheltenham hill. A first attempt at that far means you cannot say for certain whether the seven-year-olds stamina would have lasted out.
But at the price of 8/1, compared to the 3/1 on Nicky Henderson’s charge doing a Gold Cup double, it is Silvinaco that it is worth taking an each-way chance on. With no other obvious candidates to represent the Ditcheat trainer in the Festival’s premier event, it looks likely that the selection’s campaign will be geared up for a second bite of the cherry come March.
While the festival is a way off, a cumulative win at odds of 324/1 is certainly worth the wait. Indeed the return of over £150 off a £10 each way stake, should all three place is definitely not to be sniffed at.
Contributions by S W Foster
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.