Cheltenham Festival Betting Preview
After a depressing couple of months of weather we can start to look forward to betting at Cheltenham. Genie’s 2010 festival online betting guide will give you a good starting point and tell you where to dig up the best free bets deal around. We will provide you with betting tips throughout the festival and preview a few of the main races.
Tuesday, 16th March
Supreme Novices Hurdle
Following a disappointing defeat for Cousin Vinny last year the Irish favourite backers will be looking to get off to the perfect festival start by backing the Philip Fenton trained Dunguib who will go off at odd of Evens or shorter. He is the class act in the field. This seven year old has won 8 in-a-row and loves the heavy ground. If there is even a hint of rain then this is a one horse race. Last year’s Champion Bumper was an eye-opener for anyone that was not familiar with this horse and Dunguib has gone from strength to strength since then, defeating strong field in Punchestown, Galway and Fairyhouse with relative ease. Only today did he triumph in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, once again on heavy ground and once again without really being extended. Dunguib did not jump particularly well today but that made no difference to the outcome of the race. This is a horse that looks primed for Cheltenham. Expect Dunguib to go through the gears from 2 furlongs out and open up a substantial lead very quickly before coasting home. Each way backers could do worse than to follow Pepe Simo from Paul Nicholls’ yard. This is a sporadic performer who is excellent on his day. Watch for the soft ground and then get your money on. He is currently available to back at 25/1. The bigger bookmakers will all be paying extra places on the first race of the festival so the value is there.
Dunguib is currently best price of 4/5 with Ladbrokes.
Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy
The Arkle is, as ever, a wide open affair. Captain Cee Bee looks set to start as favourite at around 4/1 and the JP McManus owned Irish gelding does not represent good value to win it for the Irish backers. Don’t get me wrong; this is a classy animal but the price is offputting and in this race I am looking at the outsiders for a value bet. In my mind Sizing Europe should be the favourite to win this race and smart money would be well spent on this Henry De Bromhead trained Irish 8 year old who has the pedigree to win by a distance – particularly if there is a bit of rain, in a very competitive field. 8/1 is available as I write this but move fast because it won’t be avilable for long (price update: has moved in to 13/2 – Paddy Power).
If you’re looking for a place bet in the Arkle then there are a few legitimate contenders in Mad Max and The Nightingale but Genie is going to go for Osana in this one. If the ground is heavy this French gelding will make a break from about 4 furlongs out and look to hang on as long as possible. In heavy ground, not many will catch this plucky french horse and odds of 20/1 represents and excellent each way punt.
Wednesday 17th March
Genie is taking a different stance on this race in 2010. In previous years I am always on the lookout for value in this big field but this year my festival NAP is Rite of Passage to win this one. The Dermot Weld trained 3 year old has won esteemed company with big fields in his past 3 outings (fields of 15, 21 and 13). This wondeful beast comes from the Giants Causeway bloodline and jumps like frog. Wht has most impressed me in the past 2 victories at Leopardstown is that despite running into difficulties in the races (stray horse and getting boxed in), Mc Namara and Sullen were both able to revert to plan B and still come through to win with something to spare. Rite of Passage is currently available to back at 5/1 and is going to be my biggest antepost bet at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Expect Finian’s Rainbow (14/1) and Peddler’s Cross (16/1) to run well and they could be worth a look in the each way betting market.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh will be hoping for a repeat of last year when Masterinded made it look supremely easy to storm home and win the Champion Chase at a canter. Concerns will be rasied over the lacklustre performance at Cheltenham in November when beaten by Well Chief. Masterminded looked like he was lacking in gears and it was certainly a worrying site for jockey and trainer alike. Paul Nicholls has indicated tat he is happy with the horse following a rib injury but, at the same time he is playing down the horse’s chances at being on top of his game at Cheltenham.
Another Paul Nicholls runner, Twist Magic can be discounted in this race. The horse has only ever performed badly at Cheltenham and this is a fact which cannot be overlooked.
For this reason Genie is not going to make any recommendations in this race until closer to the time. I have no reason to believe that Masterminded can’t win but I do have legitimate concerns over rumblings coming from the camp about fitness and his lacklustre effort last time out was there for all to see. This might just be a race best avoided in the betting.
Thursday 18th March
Ladbrokes World Hurdle
Last year’s winner, Big Bucks, heads the betting field once again in the Ladbrokes Hurdle. The French gelding, from Paul Nicholls’ stable, stayed on well for Ruby Walsh last year to see off a spirited effort from Punchestowns and Powerstation.
Since last year’s win Big Bucks has gone from strength to strength and looks to be in even better form this year than last. 2 recent wins at Newbury in good company are testament to that. That being said he is best priced at 4/6 to retain thr trophy and I can’t nail this one to the mast. Many expect Big Bucks to be the heir to the throne of Inglis Driver. He might well be but I am looking elsewhere for value in this field. This has alerted me to weigh up the chances of Karabak and Sentry Duty. Karabak has tried and failed one too many times against better horses and cannot give the backer any real confidence of overturning the result last time out in Newbury agaist Big Bucks.
Sentry Duty, on the other hand, might just be worth a nibble at odds of 18/1. Henderson’s 8 year old has got some question marks over jumping and I would point especially to last year’s run at Cheltenham in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle when he seemed intent on running through them rather than jumping. Then there was the Scottich Champion Hurdle where he battered the last and ended up finishing 8th overall.
Sentry Duty has a lot more potential than has necessarily been seen on the biggest stage in a couple of years and this year’s festival could well be the platform for his finest moment. If the ground is good then I will be throwing a fair few bob each way at 18/1 in the hope that Barry Geraghty can steer this talented gelding around in relative safety. It’s a risk but the odds offer a very good value bet.
Friday 19th March
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Bought by Clive Smith for a reported £285k following a hurdle win on French Gold Cup day, Kauto Star has gone from an also ran to a househld name. In the past 2 years Kauto Star is among the best known horses in the globe and it makes the national airwaves every time Ruby Walsh saddles up to ride the gelding. Recent concerns have been raised over his jumping and has clattered a few fences when winning at Sandown and in the King George. Then there was a very nervy moment in the Aon Chase. Ruby will be well aware that the Cheltenham fences can be less forgiving and might be just that bit more careful as Kauto Star chases another Gold Cup crown.
We could sit here all night and talk about Kauto Star but it should not be forgotten that Denman is the altogether classier horse. Denman is somewhat deemed to be reborn after a victory at Newbury in November. It is fair to say that the best days may be behind Denman but, quite simply put, he is still got enough game to beat the rest, even on a mediocre day. A recent unsaddling of AP McCoy in the Aon Chase, the first time they were paired up, can be discounted as no more than a minor worry. It may even be a blessing for the punters as the price has drifted since. Either way is a winner for Nicholls of course as these 2 horses continue the friendly stabe rivalry and fight it out in what should be a 2 horse race for the 3rd year on the trott.
In the Gold Cup Genie does not back for second place. Win only is the way to go and Denman is the horse for me. I will be keeping an ear to the ground to see what whispers are coming out of the Nicholls stable in the run up to the race but if I can continue to be offered 7/2 and am reasonably happy with his chances I will be trying to finish the festival off with a win by getting stuck into Denman in the hope that the injuries are behind him and the glory of 2 years ago can be repeated.
Imperial Commander, Cooldine, Taranis and the rest can all be discounted. They are running for 3rd place, unless Kauto Star clobbers another fence and falls; in which case they are racing for second.
That concludes Genies online ante post betting guide to the 2010 Cheltenham Festival. I hope that you will follow Rite of Passage for my festival NAP and Denman should regain his crown from Kauto Star. Paul Nicholls looks all set to have another succesful year, albeit less so than last year. Willie Mullins will claim his usual handful of winners. Ruby Walsh should see off A P McCoy and claim the top jockey honours for another year. If you are looking for free bets then check out Genie’s guide to Cheltenham free bets. Also check out our free bets table below for the best deals with our online betting partners.
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