The next Cheltenham Festival may be over three months away, but taking advantage of some juicy ante-post prices could lead to significantly enhanced profits by the time the Festival’s four days of racing in March is over.
For example, at this time last year Un De Sceaux was a far more attractive price of 5/1 to win the Arkle Chase in comparison to the odds-on figure he was on raceday.
Equally, there are some terrible bets at this time of year.
Here are three horses towards the head of the market for particular races that look like sensible sidesteps. Don’t worry, we have put forward some alternate bets to place instead.
Big things were expected of Moon Racer this season having remained unbeaten in all three bumper starts, with the most recent coming in the Champion Bumper at the last Cheltenham Festival.
However, trainer David Pipe indicated recently that the horse had suffered a setback at home and this would delay his seasonal reappearance. The hope remains that Moon Racer will be back in the spring.
This has to be bad news for his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle prospects, as the lack of any early-season races prevents Moon Racer from getting any substantial hurdling experience.
He may have won the Bumper last season after a five-month layoff, but a novice hurdle is a different demand.
Fellow 10/1 joint-favourite Min also has plenty to prove, as he is yet to win a race in his career and is only at the head of the market because he represents the owner/trainer partnership of Rich Ricci and Willie Mullins.
Fellow Mullins stable star Bachasson may prove a better bet than both after finishing second in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse. Ladbrokes are top price on his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle prospects at 14/1.
Istabraq, Hardy Eustace, Hurricane Fly, Jezki and Nichols Canyon are among the former winners of the race and it may even prove the pick of the Irish novice 2m trials.
Bachasson didn’t get the run of the race at Fairyhouse and the ground was probably softer than ideal too.
This is not a quibble at the horse, but more the race, given that Shantou Village is also 12/1 to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
The obvious question then is whether trainer Neil Mulholland thinks he is best suited by 2m4f or 3m?
Shantou Village won the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle earlier in November over 2m5f and horses that have contested that race previously have almost divided equally between the Neptune and the Albert Bartlett.
However, the fact that the Neptune has been won in recent years by Peddlers Cross, Simonsig, The New One and Faugheen suggests that it is better suited to horses with more speed that are capable of winning big races over 2m.
Although not short of speed, the gut feeling is that Shantou Village is more of a stayer. Furthermore, the Hyde form looks solid given that the 15-length runner up Champers On Ice won on his next start.
Strangely, it has been over a decade since the RSA Chase was last won by a horse that wasn’t competing in novice hurdles in the previous season.
More Of That was competing in novice hurdles in the 2012/13 season, although the fact he has still only had seven career starts suggests that he is far from over-raced. A victory in the 2014 Ladbrokes World Hurdle shows obvious class too.
What it also suggests is that the seven-year-old was not a solid hurdler that promised bigger things over fences. Punchestowns and Grands Crus are examples in recent times of high-class hurdlers that were well backed in the RSA Chase, only to be beaten.
No More Heroes stayed 3m on very soft ground when third in the Albert Bartlett at the last Festival and was arguably unlucky when blocked going for a run up the inside approaching the final obstacle
He is 5/1 to win the RSA Chase, but given the manner of his two chase victories to date, particularly the Grade One Drinmore Novices’ Chase at Fairyhouse last time, No More Heroes is more deserving of his current price.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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