THE start of the festival is nearly upon us, six months of waiting nearly over and all those antepost accas that you thought were certainties in November and December are already consigned to the bin, hoping that your better half doesn’t find out that you were betting in December on horses that don’t run until March. Just me? Ok.
Anyway, if you’ve been following my recommendations we still have some antepost bets that are alive and well and it’s now time to begin the real analysis and see if we can’t find a winning strategy for the next four days of bedlam.
My main aim as usual is to find some selections that are overpriced. I’ll also see if we can find a few bankers for the accumulators…
Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle
- 1.30 p.m.
- 2miles and 87 yards
- For ‘novice’ hurdlers – i.e. those hurdlers who had not won a hurdles race before the start of the current season
- No age restriction
As the famous Cheltenham roar goes up, everyone is desperate for a winner to get things underway. The path to follow for the past three years has been to back the Rich Ricci, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh combination – the owner, trainer and jockey have had the last three winners in the shape of Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan and they head the market again this year with Min, who was a ‘talking horse’ before he emerged to make an impressive debut and then follow up with a win in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in January.
Everyone knows that Mr Ed was the only proper talking horse but you know what I mean – rumours about him being the second coming were circulating for a while before we saw him on the track. He looks the part but his form isn’t miles better than some other contenders and his price reflects the fact that he is owned by Ricci, trained by Mullins and probably ridden by Walsh, although that isn’t certain at the time of writing.
Altior for Nicky Henderson has form that is difficult to criticise – his last win by 13 lengths over Open Eagle was impressive – and the vibes coming from the stable appear to be very strong so his price is probably just about right.
The one that I fancied was Yorkhill but I have now had to re-write this section because he has been re-routed to the Neptune at the last minute (despite Mullins saying a few days ago that this would be his target). I think that move speaks volumes for the respect they have for Min at the Mullins yard so although I’m not sure he is great value at the current prices I think he now looks the most likely winner and I wouldn’t disuade anyone from backing him.
I am now inclined to have an each way flutter on the race and the one that appeals most is SILVER CONCORDE trained by the super-shrewd Dermot Weld and ridden by the experienced Davy Russell. The one thing to bear in mind is that the horse wants good ground. It looks likely to be good to soft at worst so I think that will suffice. Silver Concorde won the Champion Bumper at the Festival in 2014 and has been excellent on the flat, winning a valuable Leopardstown handicap in October. He is totally unexposed on good ground over hurdles and he is one who could spring a surprise at a nice price.
- SILVER CONCORDE – 1pt each way @ 14/1 (Ladbrokes)
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