Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Prospects
After what feels like months of waiting, the Cheltenham Festival 2020 is upon us.
Does the world need another Cheltenham Festival Day 1 preview? Certainly not.
When I started this blog one of my main aims was not to join the burgeoning ranks of Social Media tipsters or become a tipping site. Very much that is still not on my agenda.
Why pen these Cheltenham previews then?
I written this partly for my own clarity of thinking and decision making and partly because I love Cheltenham
I don’t for one second want anyone to follow my selections, make your own minds up, that’s half of the fun.
“Binocular & Khyber Kim” flickr photo by Carine06 https://flickr.com/photos/43555660@N00/5582590457 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
Cheltenham Festival 2020 Fancied runners
At this stage some bets are struck, some thoughts are still fluid and will be change as more information arrives. By more information, I’m looking primarily at the horse’s prices, the final declared runners and the ground conditions.
We have horses entered in multiple races, where they run can significantly change the shape of the betting markets. Not only their odds but the odds of every other runner in the race.
Envoi Allen’s heading to the Ballymore rather than the Supreme Novices’ is a case in question. It changed the betting shape of both races.
The price a horse is available to bet at is hugely important. The market fluctuates as it develops, you might not back a horse at 5/1 but, it drifts out to 10/1 and becomes an attractive bet.
The Cheltenham markets are huge and offer fantastic value to the punter. Don’t be afraid to have a go at some big priced selections if you believe they offer value.
The racecourse going
The reported Going Stick reading as of Monday morning is 5.6. That equates to a more traditional going description of between soft and heavy.
There is often an annoying and misleading desire to get the term good to soft into the going description at Cheltenham Festival – it keeps the connections happy. With showers later on Monday I don’t see the going firming much from the 5.6 reading.
I’m basing my thoughts on the chances of the runners on the ground that is soft to very soft. I’ll be monitoring the times of the first few races on Tuesday and adjusting my thoughts accordingly if the times show the ground conditions to be very different.
Cheltenham FESTIVAL Day 1 prospects
Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Fiddlerontheroof and Sporting John have put up the 2 best novice hurdle performances in England this season. The problem you face is evaluating how the best English form weighs up with the best Irish form.
Fiddlerontheroof goes in the 1st race of the meeting, the Supreme Novices and is up against a host of promising Irish horses. Abacadabras and Asterion Forlonges both come to the race with winning form in grade 1 races and are hard to oppose.
The well-touted, Nicky Henderson pair Shishkin and Chantry House I’m against at the current odds. While both have been winning their races impressively, neither has been tested at a Championship pace so it’s hard to make confident conclusions about how they’ll perform. At the prices, I’m happy to pass over the Henderson duo
It’s a tough opener, I like Fiddlerontheroof, his performance at Sandown puts him up there in terms of the ability normally associated with a Supreme novices’ winner. Current best price at 7/1 probably offers a little value, I’d certainly have him in front of Shishkin and Chantry House in the betting.
William Hill is paying the first seven places in the race. This is a great offer and worth exploiting. With no selection process at all and just backing the first 7 in the betting, it’ll be long odds on that you find the winner and turn a profit on the placed horses.
I’ve taken William Hill up on their offer and backed Fiddlerontheroof, Abacadabras and Asterion Forlonges each way at a ⅕ the odds 7 places (providing 14 runners go to post, 6 places if 12 or more start).
With the William Hill offer you can back any horse in the race in the place part of the bet at positive place odds versus their chance. The three I’ve backed look very solid bar accidents to finish in the first 7 and it’s shorter than even money that one of them will prevail. The hope is they all at least place, with the upside if one of them comes home first.
All each-way with William Hill 1/5 odds the first 7 places
- Fiddlerontheroof SP
- Abacadabras SP
- Asterion Forlonges SP
Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novice Chase
The form of the Arkle Trial race run here in November resulted in a decent time performance and appears underestimated in the markets here.
First and second that day, Put The Kettle On and Al Dancer are available in the 20/1 price range. Of the two I prefer Put The Kettle On at this stage.
Maire Banrigh has posted some decent efforts this season, notably at Doncaster. She is on my radar but I’d have her behind Put The Kettle On and Al Dancer so at 12/1 she is not of obvious value. I’d be interested at 20/1 plus, but I’m not sure the price will get there
- Put The Kettle On 20/1
- Al Dancer
- Maire Banrigh
Ultima Handicap Chase
The one that takes my eye here is Who Dares Wins. I think he is nicely treated off 147 here on the back of his Kempton second to Master Tommy Tucker in November.
Cepage looks overpriced around 20/1, he needs to prove he can perform up in trip but there was a lot to like about the way he battled on to win over a shorter trip last time. The form of that race looks very solid and underestimates his prospects here.
Mister Malarkey would have a shout on his Festival form from last year. He’s gone missing so far this year, whether that was by design or he’s just not the same horse, we’ll find out. A bit short for me at the 12/1 at the moment.
Who Dares Wins Chasing Home Master Tommytucker at Kempton
- Who Dares Wins 12/1
- Cepage 20/1
Unibet Champion Hurdle
It is well documented that this is one of the worst Champion Hurdles in terms of quality in recent years. If there is one horse who could live up to past standards then it’s Epatante. We know the ceiling of most of the other Champion Hurdle runners, Epatante is in a progression stage of her racing career.
Does that make her a betting proposition?
Visually Epatante was pretty impressive when winning the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. She put up a fair number on the clock too. To give it some context I only have that effort 6 lengths behind the best performances recorded by any runner in the line up over the last year.
Can she make the progression to put her in front of those performances? You’d have to be pretty optimistic.
At 7/2 I think she’s a pretty fair price. I haven’t decided as yet whether I’m backing Epatante or not yet. There are two other horses that I’m considering.
The two horses who’ve posted better efforts are Call Me Lord and Silver Streak.
At 20/1 I want to be with Call Me Lord, how heavily will depend on the times recorded in the first 3 races on Tuesday. Call Me Lord is at his best when conditions are very testing, I’m hoping he gets those tomorrow.
You can forget his latest run at Sandown where a slow pace was his undoing. Call Me Lord is better judged on his second at Ascot to If The Cap Fits. In the context of the Champion Hurdle that gives Call Me Lord a chance better than the current 20/1 odds give him credit for. He’s a decent each-way bet for me.
As for Silver Streak, he’s a horse who has never really caught the betting public’s attention and got the credit he probably deserves. He has a shout here, 3rd in the race last year, arguably a better event than this year’s renewal and he comes into tomorrow’s race on the back of a couple of decent efforts.
25/1 is a bit of an insult to Silver Streak, he’s better than that. I can certainly see him getting in the frame again on Tuesday. Whether he’ll be good enough to beat Call Me Lord and Epatante, I’m not sure.
- Call Me Lord 20/1
- Silver Streak
Close Brothers Mares Hurdle
I don’t have any particular strong view on this race, probably going to be won by one of the strong Irish team, but it’s going to be a watching race for me.
Norhern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase
Hold The Note post good credentials on his latest second to Two For Gold at Warwick and arrives here on a decent mark.
Connections, who don’t have many National Hunt horses won this race two years ago with Mister Whitaker so the intent of the connections is there to see. Unfortunately, his chance is a bit too obvious and that’s reflected in the price of around 7/1. He’s a likely winner, but I don’t see too much value in the current odds.
I much prefer Knight In Dubai who is available at 33/1. His handicap mark of 143 underestimates his effort last time out behind the decent Sam Brown at Haydock. He’s an interesting proposition at 33/1 here and a solid bet for me.
- Knight In Dubai 33/1
- Hold The Note
National Hunt Challenge Cup
Carefully Selected is being talked of as banker material for some, but he is not for me at around 2/1 or shorter.
Lord Du Mensil and the rapidly improving Springfield Fox both have solid credentials here.
There was a lot to like about Springfield Fox’s latest win at Exeter. He controlled the pace to the race and set a decent pace that had all the other runners under pressure from some way out. He continued to travel strongly, jumping beautifully out in front. He was a nice winner and it’s difficult to put a top end on his ability at present.
Lord Du Mensil has been a star this season, he is going to be suited by the distance and ground tomorrow. I have him slightly in front of the achievements of Springfield Fox thus far. The pair of them sit around the 7/1 point in the market at present and it’s difficult to choose between the two?
One other runner takes my eye and his chance has definitely been missed by the market. The Hollow Ginge has displayed a level of form this season on a par with that achieved by Springfield Fox and Lord Du Mensil and can be backed at as big as 28/1 in some places.
The price available decides for you in cases like this, so I’m on The Hollow Ginge.
- The Hollow Ginge 28/1
- Springfield Fox
- Lord Du Mensil