Mullins and Ricci pair among ante-post Cheltenham trio to follow

Ante-post betting can be a frustrating pastime, but also a profitable one if punters are able to make the correct calls for race targets in the early rungs of a season.

For example Un De Sceaux comfortably landed the odds at 4/6 for favourite backers in the Arkle at the most recent Cheltenham Festival. However, pre-Christmas he could be backed at 6/1 when doubts lingered over which of the eventual winner or Vautour Willie Mullins would run in the 2m novice contest.

Certainly a number of horses currently available at double-figure prices will be much shorter by next March and with that in mind, here are three that could be worth combining into a lucrative treble now.

Staking £10 on this treble now would net a profit of over £37,000 if all were successful at the Cheltenham Festival.

Min – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle @ 12/1

The Festival opener has followed a familiar pattern in the last three years in that backing the favourite owned by Rich Ricci, trained by Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh has proved a bulletproof strategy.

If a horse is to follow in the footsteps of Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan this year then the early candidate is Min.

The four-year-old has hardly set the world alight in France in two hurdles contests for Yannick Fouin, but something has obviously tempted Ricci to take ownership.

Min has already substantially shortened in the Supreme Novices’ betting on account of his change of yard and there is certainly plenty of speed in his pedigree, being sired by former Epsom Derby runner-up Walk In The Park.

Kitten Rock – Arkle Chase @ 16/1

The consensus with the Arkle is to prioritise a horse that has shown speed over stamina as a hurdler and Kitten Rock was a three-time group-level winner over the smaller obstacles last season, before finishing sixth in the Champion Hurdle.

There is every reason to believe he will improve further over fences.

Douvan is the clear Arkle favourite, but Vautour was in a similar boat last season before switching to the JLT Novices’ Chase instead. It is more than possible that Douvan could do the same, especially as it was considered that he would stay 2m4f last term.

Either way, following their last Festival frolics Douvan was only rated 1lb superior to Kitten Rock, which suggests they should be evenly matched for speed.

Clondaw Court – Ladbrokes World Hurdle @ 16/1

This is a risky inclusion if for no other reason that Clondaw Court is extremely fragile. He has only raced five times in his career to date since April 2012, but has won them all.

Given that a chase career may put further strain on his body, the feeling is that the eight-year-old will have another campaign over hurdles rather than moving up to the novice jumps ranks.

Unexposed runners that are stepping up to 3m for the first time are often worth keeping onside – with previous World Hurdle winners More Of That, Solwhit and Inglis Drever all fitting this criteria.

Clondaw Court looked better when stepped up to 2m6f last time and this victory came on soft ground. If he makes it to Cheltenham, he won’t be 16/1.

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.