Wednesday, 14 November 2018

An early look at the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup odds

Only a few short months remain until Cheltenham Festival gets underway, and a lot of punters are already considering their own horse racing tips for the four-day event. From all race meetings throughout the year, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is by far one of the most highly-anticipated, with it being seen as an opportunity to pit all of the best horses against each other in one of the most competitive jump races in the world.

Through the advantage that can be gained from backing your horses ante post, there’s a lot to be said for picking your Cheltenham tips early, so we’re looking at how the odds currently assess the next Cheltenham Gold Cup, and who you’d be clever to keep tabs on.

Might Bite at 5/1

The current favourite with 5/1 odds, Might Bite stands a good chance of finishing first in the Cheltenham Gold Cup after several major wins, including a notable first place finish in last year’s RSA Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham Festival 2018. After making a lot of punters money through three wins at Cheltenham Festival out of five entries in the last four years, it’s fair to say that the bookies are correct in seeing Might Bite as a favourite.

Presenting Percy at 6/1 and Native River at 6/1

Currently joint second in terms of odds, both Presenting Percy and Native River are high in the estimations of the bookies. Both horses have wins in the last Cheltenham Festival - Presenting Percy memorably winning the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase - but Native River has to be considered as being as favourable as Might Bite due to the fact that he finished first in last year’s Gold Cup. Might Bite finished second and has arguably shown a stronger record since, but if Native River is as capable as last year, he could set an impressive record for two successive wins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Potential outsiders

After these three favourites, the odds move past 10/1, with Footpad being ranked as the fourth most likely to win with odds of 12/1. Backing Footpad makes a lot of sense after successfully winning five races in a row between April 2017 and April 2018, which include Cheltenham Festival wins in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy and the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase.

In a race as fiercely competitive as the Gold Cup, horse racing fans are entitled to choose their Cheltenham tips on practically any nag, with Sizing John being a worthwhile option at 14/1, as well as Thistlecrack at 20/1. It’s a race with such a level of unpredictability that a horse as prolific as Altior, who’s won fifteen of seventeen races in total, is given a price as large as 25/1.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 2011

cheltenham festival 2011
Champion Hurdle

The 2011 Champion Hurdle marked the first appearance at the Cheltenham Festival of the prolific Hurricane Fly, trained by Willie Mullins, who’d only be beaten once in eight Grade One starts since joining the Co. Carlow handler. Ridden by Ruby Walsh, Hurricane Fly travelled well into the race after the second last, but was ultimately all out to hold Peddlers Cross by 1¼ lengths with Oscar Whisky 5 lengths further behind in third.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

The 2011 Queen Mother Champion Chase featured the winners of the previous three renewals, Big Zeb (2010) and Master Minded (2008, 2009), with the latter sent off the 2/1 favourite to banish the memory of a lacklustre performance in the previous renewal. However, it was the 10/1 chance Sizing Europe, trained by Henry de Bromhead in Co. Waterford and ridden by Andrew Lynch, who landed the spoils, staying on strongly to beat Big Zeb by 5 lengths. Captain Cee Bee finished third, beaten a further 4 lengths, while Master Minded blundered badly at the second last fence and was eased down to finish eighth of the 11 finishers.

Stayers’ Hurdle

Dual winner Big Buck’s was backed as if defeat was out of the question on his hat-trick attempt and, despite Ruby Walsh dropping his whip in the closing stages, stayed on stoutly to beat Grand Crus by 1¾ lengths and justify 10/11 favouritism. The victory took his winning tally to 11 races in a row, including five at Grade One level. For the record, Mourad stayed on, without threatening, to finish third, but a further 2¾ lengths.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

The 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup was a vintage renewal, with three previous winners, Kauto Star, Denman and Imperial Commander, among the 13 runners. However, it was the King George VI Chase winner, Long Run, who started favourite at 7/2. Trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, the 6-year-old made short work of Denman and Kauto Star, staying on strongly up the hill to win by 7 lengths and 4 lengths. Defending champion, and second favourite, Imperial Commander was tailed off when pulled up before the final fence and was found to have finished lame.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 2010

cheltenham festival 2010
Champion Hurdle

Binocular, who’d finished third, beaten a head and a neck, in 2009, when 6/4 favourite, had originally been declared a non-runner by trainer Nicky Henderson in February. However, after an exceptional piece of work, the Lambourn trainer changed his mind and, somewhat controversially, his charge won the Champion Hurdle, running on well to beat Khyber Kim by 3½ lengths. Zaynar, also trained by Henderson, finished third, a further 6 lengths away.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

Reigning champion Master Minded was all the rage, at 4/5, to complete a hat-trick, but ran a lifeless race, fading into fourth place on the run-in as Big Zeb asserted to beat compatriot Forpadydeplaster by 6 lengths. The winner, trained by Colm Murphy in Co. Wexford and ridden by Barry Geraghty, had fallen at the fourth last when still travelling well within himself the previous year. Second favourite Kalahari King kept on to take a never dangerous third, beaten 9¼ lengths by the winner.

Stayers’ Hurdle

Defending champion Big Buck’s, unbeaten since sent back over the smaller obstacles the previous season and firmly established as the leading staying hurdler in the country, started odd-on, at 5/6, to retain his crown. Retain his crown he did, in emphatic style, cruising upsides the leader, Time For Rupert, between the last two flights and asserting on the run-in to win by 3¼ lengths. Powerstation, third in 2009, was third again, 11 lengths further behind.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

Stable companions Kauto Star and Denman faced off for the third year running, with Kauto Star sent off 8/11 favourite to win his second consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cup and his third in all. However, having been given time to recover from a bad blunder before halfway, Kauto Star fell at the fourth last, when seemingly struggling and Denman was comprehensively outpointed by Imperial Commander. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by Paddy Brennan, Imperial Commander headed Denman at the second last and won, going away, by 7 lengths. Mon Mome, at 50/1, finished a well-held third, 23 lengths further behind.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 2009

cheltenham festival 2009
Champion Hurdle

The 2009 Champion Hurdle featured 23 runners – the largest field since Morley Street beat 23 rivals in 1991 – including the winners for the previous five years. Binocular, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by A.P. McCoy, started 6/4 favourite, but was upstaged by stable companion Punjabi, ridden by Barry Geraghty, who was all out to win by a head from Celestial Halo, with Binocular a neck back in third. Katchit fared best of the previous winners, finishing a never-nearer sixth, beaten 5¾ lengths.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

Defending champion Master Minded, still only a 6-year-old, came into the race on the back of easy wins in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot and was sent off at prohibitive odds of 4/11 to retain his crown. His supporters never had an anxious moment, though, as he went clear to beat Well Chief by 7 lengths, with Petit Robin 2 lengths back in third. Newmill, the 2006 winner, finished fourth at odds of 100/1.

Stayers’ Hurdle

Big Buck’s – complete with that annoying, and unnecessary, apostrophe – made his first appearance in the Ladbroke World Hurdle, having been put back over the smaller obstacles after falling at the final fence in the Hennessy Gold Cup. The move proved to be a stroke of genius by trainer Paul Nicholls, because the 6-year-old stayed on gamely to beat Punchestowns and Powerstation by 1¾ lengths and 17 lengths.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

The 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup was billed as Kauto Star versus Denman, round two, but this time it was the 2007 winner, Kauto Star, who served it up to his ailing stable companion, winning impressively by 13 lengths. To be fair, Denman was having just his second start back after treatment for an irregular heartbeat, but Kauto Star, nevertheless, became the first horse in the history of the race to regain his crown after being beaten in a previous renewal.