After 8 profitable Cheltenham Festivals in succession and last years very healthy return on investment, I will now be advising Antepost Cheltenham Festival bets and giving my reasoning why I will be placing the bets myself. In this section I will be focusing on the Championship races, where the markets are unlikely to make much movement over the coming months. Members will be notified of any bets first.
Abacadabras @ 8/1(hills)
Abacadabras was very impressive on his 2nd start over hurdles in the For Auction Novice Hurdle beating Latest Exhibition with the minimum of fuss and creating a lasting impression. At Christmas time he backed that up with a close 2nd to the Ballymore winner Envoi Allen and had the eventual Champion Hurdle 3rd Darvers Star 2.5L behind him in 3rd. On what turned out to be the final run of his season, he travelled very well and looked all over the winner of the Supreme until Shiskin just managed to get up by a head. There was a long way back to the 3rd Chantry House. It has been a little while since we have had a quality out and out 2 miler come out of the supreme of which Abacadabras, to my eye seems to be.
Although Epatante is clearly very good, I personally don’t think there was another star in the race itself, and I would be of the opinion that Abacadabras can come up to open company and at the very least give her something to worry about.
also in the CHAMPION HURDLE
I advised SAINT ROI to MEMBERS at 20/1 WITH CASHOUT. Prior to his comeback run. A facile winner of the County Hurdle. He ran very well on his seasonal return. It was a good display of jumping, and he won with absolutely ease. I expect him to progress further. He is currently priced up at odds of 10/1 which I believe is fair. The 2 which I have currently put up for the Champion Hurdle may well clash at Down Royal in the WKD Hurdle, which is likely to be a very informative contest, and a race which is certainly worth noting going forward.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
I have already advised Chacun Pour Soi to members at 9/2. I do not personally believe that he is a liability to be injured as the general consensus seems to be – he was unfortunate to get a stone bruise at the wrong time last year, and that could have happened to any horse. His previous lay off was mainly due to being given time to acclimatise to his new yard after being purchased from France. On his racetrack form, his beating of Min was a quality performance at the Dublin Racing Festival. Min subsequently won the Ryanair chase and has come out this season and won the John Durkan. Chacun already had the race in the bag going over the last, if I wanted to be picky, Chacun did not power away at the line, However I do believe they had left more to work on. His seasonal debut was satisfactory, and its only a few days until he has to back it up in a stronger race.
I have now just advised to also back Altior at 7/1 with Bet365. He has obviously won this race twice previously, the first time beating Min, and the 2nd beating last year’s winner Politologue. Politologue was held up on this occasion and Altior was in front soon enough. He was scrubbed along and found more in the closing stages, which is his customary fashion. I do believe that now Politologue has his front running style, this will suit Altior and give him a longer lead, with something to aim at for when he does pick up in the closing stages on the run in. I believe that Chacun will be bang there and looking to take the lead at the last, Altior will be looking to do the same, however may take a little longer to pick up, with the hill and a long run in to his aid.
Altior, Chacun Pour Soi and Politologue for me are the 3 main players. I personally do not see a winning challenge coming from Put The Kettle On or elsewhere. PTKO is in in my horses to avoid article, if that is of interest to you.
We have had some cracking races already this season, with Paisley Park, Roksana and Thyme Hill all winning useful races. Last time out they all took each other on in the Long Walk, where Roksana ran very credibly in 3rd and subsequently does look just held here. Paisley park was scrubbed along in his customary style, and used all of the extended trip here to get up. It was a brilliant performance by Paisley Park, who is an admirable horse, however, the one I would be taking out of the race is Thyme Hill. Firstly he has the tactical pace, also being very much towards the front of the pace, to me looks to be a great benefit in what surely will be a big field in the stayers. He gives you the option of choosing when you want to take up the lead and go for home, where as Paisley Park could so very much have traffic issues as well as a slightly shorter trip to contend with, plus the fact that he bombed in a far weaker renewal last year.
I must admit that I am annoyed with myself for not advising Thyme Hill before his seasonal debut, however I felt it was a steep enough task first time up, and something that he may improve from. I did not expect such a big reduction in odds, which subsequently he has backed up, and shown to be more than fair. He is certainly No. 1 in my book at this stage.
We will shortly have Sire du Berlais v Fury Road. Fury Road showed a huge upturn in form at the festival itself last year, showing that whatever he does at Christmas, there is sure to be improvement. He actually has a fair mark, so you also have to take that into consideration, with handicaps a possibility. Sire du Berlais imo, put in the performance of the festival last season when winning the Pertemps Final. For my money, he would have won last years Stayers Hurdle. This year however, there are some young pretenders, with smart form, so I believe the task will not be as easy as last year. That discounts him at the prices for me, however that is price related and it certainly is not discrediting his chances.
We could see some wild cards by the time the Cleeve Hurdle comes around, imo this race does not look too attractive to switch back from fences, however ones with the potential to do so, start with and are not limited to Latest Exhibition and Champ.
In summary, Thyme Hill looks the one I’d be fairly confident, that is who we will be backing for the purpose of this thread, however I will be holding fire for now, and will see what comes out of the woodwork.
You have to start with Al Boum Photo, I put him up for the RSA at 3 figure prices before he fell late on, most people will know that I was adamant that he was not beaten at the time. which led me to advise him at 33/1 for the following years gold cup, and again for this years. He won both, and I see no reason why he can’t win a 3rd,
I am not sold on Minella Indo at all yet. He has beaten very little imo, and gets his first real test at Christmas, so lets reserve judgement until then .
Presenting Percy went very well last time, and now in the hands of Gordon Elliott, there will be no excuses given. I am not sure that he will ever beat Al Boum Photo again, but this is probably his last chance to do so. He will have his followers, and this is probably the first time that I give him some sort of chance get involved at all. So lets see what Gordon can do.
I came away from the Gold Cup thinking that Lostintranslation was the only challenger that could come back, improve and potentially put it up to the Champion. However I was very disappointed last time, in all honesty, even more so that they have decided to go for the King George again. Lets hope he proves me wrong on that score, I just cant help thinking he wanted a confidence booster rather than a war of attrition.
Santini, i just cant see him having the tactical pace to win. imo he will always be too little, too late.
In conclusion, there is more evidence to be seen on the race track shortly, however at the moment its Al Boum Photo for the 3 timer that has my deepest consideration. I am not a fan of last years novices as of yet, and subsequently you will find Champ sitting in my horses to avoid article, if anyone would like to have a read of that. I will be updating this before Al Boum Photo makes his seasonal debut.