Excitement levels are set to reach a crescendo amongst racing fans over the weekend, ahead of next week’s Cheltenham Festival, which starts on Tuesday.
Kicking the Festival off is the Supreme Novices Hurdle, a race that is traditionally very competitive. It will be no different this year as 19 runners go to post. My value bet would be Dodging Bullets, which can still be got at 9/1.
The opening day’s main event is without doubt the Champion Hurdle, with Hurricane Fly the horse to beat in a field of ten. Paddy Power is offering punters their money back on all losing bets of €100 or less, if “The Fly” regains his Champion Hurdle crown. Read to the end for more info.
The main contender to The Fly will be Rock on Ruby, last year’s winner of the race. Other notable runners are Zarkander and Grandouet. However, spare a thought also for Binocular, his owner JP McManus hinted earlier in the week that he has a decent each-way chance.
The feature race on Ladies Day (Wednesday) is the Two mile Queen Mother Champion Chase, with Sprinter Sacre the raging hot favourite for this one. The odds-on favourite will be hard to back at his current odds. However, Coral are giving an Even Money price for Sprinter Sacre for a limited time, so get on if you can.
On Thursday, the Ryanair Chase will reveal who is the best chaser over two and a half miles. Former winners Albertas Run and Riverside Theatre are back for this renewal, along with some other high quality opposition. Cue Card’s only defeat this season was on St. Stephen’s Day at Kempton Park in the King George over three miles. The drop down in trip should suit.
Sizing Europe’s connections have opted for this race also, thus dodging Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother. Unbeaten in four races this season, the step up in trip looks a shrewd move. Last year’s winner Riverside Theatre is priced at a tempting 15/2 with Paddy Power. He failed to fire in the King George Chase on his seasonal debut but the likelihood of better ground should suit him.
The feature race of the Festival is The Cheltenham Gold Cup. The blue riband event of national hunt racing takes place on Friday. The forgotten horse of the race seems to be 2011 winner Long Run, who finished third last year behind the ill-fated Synchronised. He is a stand-out 7/1 with Paddy Power. However, his amateur jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen, believes Bobs Worth is the one to beat.
For the first time in seven years, Kauto Star will not be in the race, but there are plenty of other old warhorses coming back to take on the new breed. The Willie Mullins trained Sir Des Champs will be the main Irish challenger. He comes to the Festival in good form after his win in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
Whatever happens, it’s sure to be a great week. I’ll leave you with this un-guaranteed way of making money on the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, if you bet with Paddy Power.
€40 win on Zarkander at 4/1 = €200 return
€40 win on Rock on Ruby at 4/1= €200 return
€20 win on Grandouet at 6/1= €140 return
How it works:
If Hurricane Fly wins, we break even.
If Zarkander wins, we make a €100 profit
If Rock on Ruby wins, we make €100 profit.
If Grandouet wins, we make €40 profit.
If something else wins, we lose €100.
Good luck everyone!