Ante-post betting is beginning to hot up ahead of the Cheltenham Festival and Darlan is one of two horses particularly well supported for the first day’s racing.
Ladbrokes are now offering the top price on Darlan winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 8/1 and the horse has done little wrong to date.
The only blemish on his record this season is when falling recently at Newbury in the Betfair Hurdle two flights from home, where he was travelling seemingly best at the time in a race involving leading Champion Hurdle fancy Zarkandar.
The likely defect of Simonsig to the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle is another boost to his chances, but it remains to be seen if he can be effective at an undulating track like Cheltenham.
However, the fact he failed to win on his latest start is not ideal preparation given that 13 of the last 15 winners of the Festival opener arrived at Cheltenham on the back of a success.
Steps To Freedom is also 8/1 to win the Supreme and although he has arguably not been as impressive as Darlan so far, he ticks virtually all of the right boxes trends wise to land the spoils, while also having a course victory under his belt.
Despite the claims and impressiveness of 1/1 favourite Sprinter Sacre, there is also money for Peddlers Cross to triumph in the Arkle Chase.
Only two of the last 19 favourites have won the Arkle, while Peddlers Cross is a proven Cheltenham performer.
Peddlers Cross is now just 11/4 in the Cheltenham odds to win the Arkle and will much prefer going left-handed again as he bids to overturn a defeat to Sprinter Sacre earlier in the season at an unsuited Kempton.
Meanwhile, five of the last 11 Arkle winners had entered the race as the best hurdler in the field according to official ratings and Peddlers Cross finished second at the last Festival in the Champion Hurdle behind the mighty Hurricane Fly.