As the countdown to the Cheltenham Festival continues at a strong pace, the battle to secure that early antepost value heats up even further.
Various trials throughout the season have seen favourites come and go, defending champs backed for a repeat and short-priced chances ruled out through injury.
We’ve taken a look through the betting to find the horses that are all the rage with punters, and those near the top of their respective markets who have been harder to lay.
Here’s who is hot and who is not in the Cheltenham Festival antepost betting.
Min – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Easily the biggest loser in the Ladbrokes books, Willie Mullins’ charge is shorter than each of his last three Supreme winners were at this stage of the season.
Cut into 7/4 after his recent success, but that proved too big for punters who backed him into 5/4. Expect him to go off at odds-on if this continues up until March.
Faugheen – Champion Hurdle
Those pink colours of the Ricci’s look likely to be carried to victory some 40 minutes later if the money is to be believed.
Available at 6/4 after being beaten first time out, his Christmas Hurdle romp has seen him backed all the way into 4/7, with nearly twice as much money placed on him alone than has gone on the whole Champion Chase market.
Smad Place – Ryanair Chase
While he does have a very popular Vautour ahead of him in the betting the Hennessy Gold Cup winner continues to attract support.
With Alan King suggesting that he would be stepped down in trip after the King George, the money has come for the grey. The uncertainty surrounding many of the other principles has seen the nine-year-old backed into 8/1 from 10/1.
Ivanovich Gorbatov – Triumph Hurdle
Although registered as being in the care of his father, it is believed Joseph O’Brien has begun his training career by looking after this exciting juvenile among others.
A defeat of a well-fancied Willie Mullins charge on hurdles debut saw the JP McManus-owned four-year-old entered into the Triumph market as a 12/1 shot. Such has been the confidence behind him, he’s been backed into 4/1 without even running.
Don Cossack – Gold Cup
A fall in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day saw the bookies react by pushing out last year’s Ryanair Chase third to 7/1.
However, that hasn’t been enough to put off punters who continue to support Gordon Elliot’s charge, right into 5/1. If he wins well in the Kinloch Brae on Thursday, expect that price to shorten even further.
Nichols Canyon – Champion Hurdle
While his stablemate has been all the rage, even with a defeat of Faugheen in the Morgiana Hurdle, punters have struggled to get behind last year’s Neptune runner-up.
His odds were pushed out from 5/1 to 6/1 after he had to work hard to overcome Identity Thief last time out, and even though he is second-favourite in the Champion Hurdle betting, five horses have seen more bets come for them.
Annie Power – Mares’ Hurdle
Within a hurdle of claiming last year’s renewal, there hasn’t been a strong rush to back Annie Power to right that wrong in March.
That could be because she hasn’t been seen since, and time is running out for Mullins to get a prep run into her before the Festival. Odds close to her 4/5 might be available on the day, so the market is giving her a wide berth.
Sire De Grugy – Champion Chase
The market is a messy one, with plenty of horses looking like they are back in the game after a disappointing season last year, but the money hasn’t come for Sire De Grugy.
Ladbrokes cut him to a 6/1 chance after he ran Sprinter Sacre very close at Kempton over Christmas but a lack of interest in the chestnut has seen the bookies push him out to 7/1.
Balthazar King – Cross Country Chase
Absent since a horror fall in the Grand National last April, Philip Hobbs’ popular chaser is reportedly on target for a return to a cross country course that has seen him successful on four occasions.
Nevertheless, with the emergence of Josies Orders, punters haven’t been interested in the 6/1 on offer for the 12-year-old to make it a third Festival win on the unique course.
Camping Ground – World Hurdle
With a 20 length defeat of last year’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle victor Cole Harden, you’d expect many to be lumping on Robert Walford’s charge at 8/1.
However, with the ground heavy that day likely to have been strongly in his favour, few have been convinced that the six-year-old is a real contender for the Grade 1 with the conditions likely to be substantially better in March.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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