• Top Ten Antepost Cheltenham Bets

    It grates with some people but talk of Cheltenham antepost bets begins almost as soon as the previous Cheltenham festival starts.

    I’ve had some reasonable luck down the years, backing Sublimity for the Champion Hurdle at 59-1 and a few others that came in at shorter odds. There are lots of failures, but the wait, banter and anticipation is well worth it.

    This year, there are ample long-shots to look forward to with a view to Cheltenham and if just one comes in we will be in profit!

     

    Battleoverdoyen

    This horse is a gorgeous chasing prospect, one of many that Michael O’Leary has. When he won at Punchestown on his bumper debut, he looked exciting; when he trounced a decent field at Navan on his hurdling debut, he looked special.

    He will next run in Naas’ only Grade 1 race in January. That is over a similar trip to the Ballymore Novice Hurdle, for which this horse could easily go off favourite. Price: 14-1.

     

    Barrington Court

    Jessica Harrington has certainly done quite alright with the stallion Mastercraftsman – let’s just saw Alpha Centauri wasn’t too bad – and she knows a good filly when she sees one. And in Barrington Court, she may not have another Alpha Centauri, but she could have the next Quevega or Annie Power.

    Two things make little sense when it comes to last season and Barrington Court. One was that she was beaten in all three of her runs; secondly, she was sent off at least 6-1 in the betting. But the way she demolished her rivals in a Listed race on her return at Navan suggests she could just be quite special.
    She was since bought by JP McManus and ran a blinder on her hurdling debut at Naas. She looks a big player for the mares’ novice hurdle. Price: 14-1.

     

    Carefully Selected

    Carefully Selected was cruelly denied in the Champion Bumper last year when Relegate grabbed him in the closing stages; he was the middle rung of a 1-2-3 for Willie Mullins.

    He had won a point-to-point as a younger horse and later a two-and-a-half-mile Leopardstown bumper by eight lengths. He has yet to jump a hurdle but likely this is the type of horse who can tackle the three-mile Albert Bartlett. Price: 20-1.

     

    Cracking Smart

     

    Cracking Smart was trading as favourite for the Albert Bartlett last year when he got injured. He has yet to jump a fence but Gordon Elliott is anxious to get him out and, with Delta Work so prominent in the betting for the RSA Chase, perhaps Michael O’Leary will target the National Hunt Chase with Cracking Smart.

    This is a gorgeous, big horse and he may be suited by going a little slower at Cheltenham; hence this race looks obvious. Price: 20-1.

     

    Faugheen

    ‘The Machine’ has only ever run once at three miles, producing an utterly extraordinary performance at Punchestown last year, beating Penhill – who had taken the Stayers’ Hurdle crown at Cheltenham – as if he were second-rate. Faugheen looks too slow for two miles now but he is too big a price to let go for the Stayers’ Hurdle. Imagine the reaction of the Irish if he prevailed! Price: 12-1.

     

    Great Field

    Fair enough, Altior should again win the Champion Chase, but it is well worth repeating that you should never be afraid of one horse. Something might happen Altior and just because Great Field fell at Cork does not mean he cannot produce a huge performance in the Champion Chase. Five from five until Cork over fences, JP McManus’ charge has a massive engine. Price: 20-1.

     

    Jon Snow

    On a recent visit to the stable, accompanied by a racing fan suffering from a debilitating illness, Willie Mullins showed his class by giving us well over an hour of his time, speaking candidly about racing and life. There were humorous moments, such as when the work rider of an unknown horse gushed about “the machine” underneath, prompting a smiling Mullins to caution against her saying too much before the curious visitors. It transpired that the nag was Jon Snow, a winner in France who may end up in the Triumph Hurdle. Price: 25-1.

     

    Saldier

    With Saldier, Espoir D’allen and Mr Adjudicator in the line-up, Naas’ four-year-old hurdle earlier this season was a cracking race, and Ruby Walsh took the steer on Saldier, who had three different riders when campaigned as a juvenile. 

    Saldier fell when travelling well at the last and still in front. I see this horse maturing into a major contender for the Champion Hurdle. Given his Flat class, it was always going to take time for him over hurdles, and he looked a far better horse at Punchestown than he did when so raw at Cheltenham. Price: 25-1

     

    Shattered Love

    Even those of you with little knowledge of racing will have heard of Dawn Run. The most successful racemare in the history of National Hunt racing, She won the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 1984 and the Gold Cup over fences at the festival in 1986; she remains the only racehorse ever to complete the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double. She is also one of only four who have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup – and the most recent. Could Shattered Love emerge as her successor? 

    Last year’s winner of the JLT at Cheltenham made a terrific return when second to Snow Falcon at Down Royal, with Monalee in third. She then ran on strongly to chase home Min in the John Durkan at Punchestown. She will end up going the Gold Cup route in all probability and jumps brilliantly, while her Cheltenham form is a major bonus. For a mare, she is quite simply a monster. Price: 25-1.

     

    Stormy Ireland

    The daughter of Mitovator had a horrible fall in the Triumph Hurdle last season when taking on the boys, but she won well at Killarney in May and she looked a potentially top-class mare when scoring at Punchestown in November. She has an engine that marks her out as something special and there is always a chance that the Mares Hurdle favourite Apple's Jade will run in a different race. It is hard to see Stormy Ireland going anywhere else. Price: 14-1.

     

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