16:00 Cheltenham: Bondage to get pulses racing in Coral Cup

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Irish horses entering the Coral Cup off a reasonable layoff have fine records in the race and this indicates that punters may want to tie their money up on Bondage at 14/1 at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Bondage has not been seen since chasing home Coneygree at Cheltenham in December, but he did win over course and distance in his previous outing to that.

Ireland have a great strike rate from their small percentage of runners in this race and four of their last five winners did so having had at least two months off before the Festival.

Meanwhile, he fits the criteria of each of the last 19 winners having an official rating no higher than 147, while 14 of the last 19 victors had entered the winners’ enclosure at least once earlier in the season.

Pendra is the 7/1 favourite and his performance behind Melodic Rendezvous last time was eye-catching in that he shaped to stay further and it certainly impressed renowned owner JP McManus, who quickly moved to purchase the horse.

Pendra lost that race by four lengths, but is rated 11lb lower than Melodic Rendezvous now, which suggests he may have a few lbs in hand here.

The big question is whether he ideally wanted as much as 5f further, but the soft ground should be no issue, given that he has won both starts on a similar surface.

The other market leader is Abbey Lane at 8/1 from the yard of Willie Mullins and it may be significant that he is the choice of Ruby Walsh.

Barbatos is one that could sneak an each-way spot at a bigger price of 20/1 should the ground firm up a bit.

He will improve for a first run in over a year at Cheltenham last time and remains on a mark lower than that from which he was last victorious.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.