As the “Cheltenham Roar” nears ever closer to launching the 2015 Festival it can be easy to get carried away with the chances of Rich Ricci, the passionately private race-horse owner that has taken jumps racing by the scruff of the neck, to field the most winners over the course of the week.
The title could well be laid at Ricci’s feet based on the reputation of his first-day entries alone and certainly plays a huge part in his 7/4 favouritism in the market with Ladbrokes.
The investment banker owns three ante-post favourites for the opening day. Douvan is 13/8 for the Supreme Novices, Faugheen is 11/10 for the Champion Hurdle and Annie Power is 4/7 for the Mares race.
By the end of the day Ricci could well have an unprecedented lead over his rivals, but it is unlikely all three will win, especially with the Supreme being a well-known burial ground for favourites.
Vautour, Champagne Fever and Djakadam are all other leading Ricci fancies over the course of the festival, but it is the longer price (from an equally strong squad) of the Gigginstown House Stud that should be backed to claim top ownership honours.
Michael O’Leary’s Cheltenham roster includes a host of well-fancied entrants to rival Ricci, including Don Poli, Don Cossack, both Very Wood and Wounded Warrior in the National Hunt Chase, Outlander, No More Heroes, Valseur Lido and Road to Riches.
With so many entries standing a live chance of winning, the 9/4 on Gigginstown House Stud firing in the most winners this year looks a cracking bet.
At the same price, JP McManus isn’t without a chance. He fields the likes of Jezki, Mr Mole, Quantativeeasing, Hargam, On The Fringe and Ned Buntline at Prestbury Park and has the added bonus of AP McCoy being his retained jockey.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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