Last year the bookies were saved from a true battering from those waiting on Annie Power for a Willie Mullins four-fold on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, and this year looks to be a similar story.
Fast-forward 12 months and it could be a similar story with the Closutton trainer holding short-priced favourites in four of the first five races once again.
Ignoring the Mares’ Hurdle with Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag both still possible, the Mullins treble of Min (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Douvan (Arkle) and Faugheen (Champion Chase) currently pays just 3.2/1.
After last year punters will know that it no matter how solid it looks, it can all go wrong very quickly.
With little room for manoeuvre, it could be worth ditching the shorties for a foray into Ladbrokes’ ‘betting without markets’.
While a £10 stake returns just £42 on the jollies, £5 each-way on our ‘without’ treble delivers £67 if our trio simply finish in the first three behind the hot-pots, while it’s a whopping £713 if all three chase the favourites home.
Here is the 130/1 treble to be on each-way…
While the Mullins hot-pot will scare many candidates away to the Neptune, Michael O’Leary has stated that the Gigginstown camp aren’t afraid of Rich Ricci’s horse.
“I think it’s fairly obvious at this stage that we will take everyone on,” was his take on the situation after the gelding finished second in a Leopardstown Grade 1.
He was very keen that day and connections have decided to put a hood on the six-year-old for his next outing in the Deloitte Hurdle at the weekend which could see his price cut further.
He had the beating of Petit Mouchoir who is a smart animal over Christmas, giving him seven pounds, and looks to have proved Graded class. If settling better he could certainly give the Irish a one-two in the opening race for the second year running.
Barring a fall it is looking impossible to take on Faugheen, but after Mullins put all three of his hopes against each other in the Irish Champion Hurdle last week, it might be worth siding with one that has been kept fresh.
Henry De Bromhead reported that his horse came out of his battle with Nichols Canyon in the Ryanair Hurdle a tired horse, so looks to be heading straight to Cheltenham.
The Fighting Fifth hurdle winner looks to have more to give over hurdles, and could foreseeable improve past his conqueror at Leopardstown.
He stays further which will be handy when the hill comes into play in the Champion Hurdle, and while his form is closely matched with Peace and Co on a line through Top Notch, that rival needs to prove he can rein in his free-going nature.
Another race that could see a small field with the jolly described as “a different species” by his trainer means backing Nicky Henderson’s charge to chase home Douvan again looks value.
He was 10 lengths back in fourth in the Supreme Novices’ but his run was fraught with difficulties, being badly hampered by the fall of Seedling, and was then caught up when attempting to make a move down the hill.
Before that he even had the beating of JLT Novices’ Chase favourite Killultagh Vic, triumphing by seven lengths at Ascot.
He’s been excellent in two runs over fences so far, with Doctor Harper who was smashed by 27 lengths in the first of those easily winning since to give his performances some sort of substance.
It looks tough for him to upset the jolly but he certainly looks to have the beating of the rest.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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