Outside of the handicaps, where the final participants are still almost a lottery to predict, the majority of betting markets for the 27 races at the Cheltenham Festival have now taken shape.
The head of these markets especially so, where it is now difficult to find an ante-post favourite currently offering any value. Most are the price they are expected to be on race day or, worse, even shorter.
There looks to be one exception and that is Annie Power.
4/5 doesn’t look much of an enticing price, but the way she ran all over the Mares’ Hurdle field last year before coming to grief at the final obstacle showed how far ahead of her counterparts she was in the division.
Annie Power is yet to be seen this season and probably won’t be before the Festival, but no races that have been run suggest that the gap between her and the rest has diminished.
The fact that the eight-year-old hasn’t been seen is unlikely to prove a hindrance as she hails from the same Willie Mullins yard as Quevega, who won the Mares’ Hurdle five times in succession between 2009 and 2014 usually on her seasonal reappearance.
However, the main reason that Annie Power’s win price is expected to contract is because of the other races earlier on the card on the Festival’s opening day.
Mullins was dominant last March when Douvan won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Un De Sceaux took the Arkle Chase and then Faugheen landed the Champion Hurdle. All three Mullins hotpots were short-priced favourites.
This resulted in the masses piling on to Annie Power to follow suit and she was backed into 1/2.
Expect something similar this time, with Min (5/4) in the Douvan role, Douvan (4/6) stepping into Un De Sceaux’s hooves and Faugheen (4/7) repeating his previous triumph.
If this treble goes in, Annie Power may be as short as 1/3. If not, she’ll still be less than 4/5. It can certainly be argued that she is a bigger certainty than Douvan and so should be a shorter price.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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