Cheltenham Festival: Three of the best bets to back on Ladies Day and St Patrick’s ThursdayPublished March 16, 2016
Possibly the greatest show on earth is underway and its theatre, Cheltenham’s Prestbury Racecourse, is unique in every way. The Festival blends the enthusiasm of a cup final, the excitement of a massive syndicate of winning Lotto ticket holders and a tussle with bookmakers which resembles the Battle of the Somme.
Round one of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, the opening Skybet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, could arguably been deemed to have gone the way of the bookmakers but as the winner, Altior, went off the 4/1 second favourite, it is unlikely they totally swerved all the flak punters threw at them.
In fact with ‘Min’ (the talking horse for the race and backed ante-post long before he set foot on an English or Irish racecourse) finishing second, it is most likely the major firms had to pay out each-way winnings to those lucky enough to have backed him at the 33/1 that was once available. Of course his defeat at 15/8 immediately spoiled countless doubles, trebles and accumulators about the battalion of fancied horses representing Willie Mullins at this year’s Festival.
A subsequent victory for Mullins’ Douvan in the Arkle may have evened the UK vs Ireland scores but his prohibitive odds of 1/4 could not have damaged bookmakers or benefited punters too much. But the Cheltenham Festival is a marathon not a sprint and those playing up Day 1 winnings or chasing their losses will surely be interested YANWORTH in Wednesday’s Neptune Novices Hurdle.
The Alan King trained horse has been mighty impressive in all four of his hurdle starts including here at Cheltenham when winning a Grade 2 in January. He clearly boasts the best form of the home team and one suspects Willie Mullins’ will have to play second fiddle again in this, the second novice hurdle of the Festival, with his Yorkhill being the best of the visitors.
On Day 3 THISTLECRACK can give more cheer to the home side with a predicted steering job in the three-mile World Hurdle. In winning the Cleeve Hurdle under a motionless Tom Scudamore in January, Thistlecrack confirmed he is the best staying hurdler in training and this race should resemble nothing more than an exhibition.
Day 3 features another penalty kick with VAUTOUR looking all over the winner of the Ryanair Chase. The seven-year-old has only raced beyond 2m-5f once when he was beaten by the width of a cigarette paper in the three-mile King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
He clearly suffered from stamina limitations that day and the late decision to swerve the Gold Cup to line-up in this two-mile-five-furlong can prove a very shrewd decision.
Let us not forget this is a racehorse that has made two previous visits to the Cheltenham Festival and has come away with the 2014 Supreme Novice Hurdle and 2015 JLT Novice Chase titles.