Cheltenham is full of short-priced favourites. Yanworth, Thistlecrack, Douvan and Un de Sceaux may well all win, but it will be tough going to get rich by backing them.
Those horses are best left to either the heavy hitters or the lads doing the ten horse accumulators.
For the rest of us mere mortals, part of the fun of the week is doing a double or a treble that could pay for a new car if it came off.
So, Faugheen is OUT of the Cheltenham Festival!
What are the alternatives?
FOLLOW us to find out!
— Cheltenham Talk (@CheltenhamTalk) February 17, 2016
Swinging for the fences every now and again with a small-stakes, big-priced crazy double in the handicaps is exhilarating, and this type of bet should have its place in every punter’s arsenal for the week.
With that in mind, I said I would have a crack at two of the toughest puzzles of the week, the County hurdle and the Pertemps final. Blue Hell has been a fancy of mine ever since he obliterated a quality field in a competitive handicap hurdle in Fairyhouse last November.
The second that day was Diamond King, a subsequent winner who is now one of the Coral cup favourites. Keppol’s Queen was fourth and she won a Grade 3 hurdle on her next run, while 5th home Henry Higgins took the big hurdle in Leopardstown in January.
The form looks seriously strong, and this horse has been revolutionised by an operation to correct his wind, coupled with the application of a tongue tie. Once the trick works a second time, he should hold every chance on the Friday of the festival.
The second leg is Leave at Dawn in the Pertemps final. Trainer Charles Byrnes is no stranger to masterminding a gamble, and this horse was impressive in taking a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham’s November meeting over 2 miles 5 furlongs.
To qualify for the final meant running on unsuitably soft going in Leopardstown, but he kept on nicely from the rear to finish 5th. Better ground should see him step forward on that form in the final. There is still a small chance he gets rerouted to the Martin Pipe, so maybe waiting for non-runner, no-bet to kick in would be advisable, but he should have a top chance wherever he turns up.
William Hill have him at 10/1 for any festival race, and that is another option for those looking to back him now.
These two horses are currently around 12/1 each, making the odds of a double around 168/1.
Those looking to add a third leg to this could do worse than consider Ma Filleule, who is around 20/1 for the Ryanair chase. Runner up to Uxizandre last year, she had Don Cossack back in third, and this year’s race doesn’t look quite as strong at this stage.
She could run in the Ascot Chase this Saturday, where she finished second to Balder Succes last year, and a good run there could see her price collapse.
She is another who improves for better ground, and a replication of last year’s run would at least be good enough to see her hit the frame again.
These kind of bets should obviously come with a health warning, but the potential payoff is enough to blinker me to the downsides.
The odds of this (admittedly unlikely!) treble are over 3500/1, with the place treble paying almost 100/1 – that should cover the costs for the week nicely!
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