The Cheltenham Festival is drawing that ever closer and it’s a time of the year where punters assemble to gather the opinions of the people in the know regarding the Cheltenham Festival.
These preview nights have grown in popularity over the last two years and we have been keeping our ear close to the crowd.
The latest one was held in The Old Oscott Working Mens Club in Birmingham on Thursday, and had some very shrewd judges on the panel. Some of the most knowledgeable and respected journalists on the circuit, in fact.
On the panel sat, Daily Mail and William Hill Radio tipster Sam Turner, broadcaster Lydia Hislop, who has been scurrying around the country doing plenty of these preview nights, well respected Racing UK pundit Steve Mellish and author John Morris.
All these lads and lassies know their onion when it comes to the Festival and we jotted down the key information gathered about all the big races. Hopefully, it’ll come in use for when you decide where your money is going.
Supreme Novice Hurdle: Irving 3/1, Vautour 100/30, Wicklow Brave 6/1, Josses Hill 12/1, Valseur Lido 16/1, Western Boy 16/1 & 18/1 Bar.
Turner began kicking off with an opinion that hasn’t been heard yet in all the previews we’ve reported on: that this race looks likely to serve up a shock result. He said that the race was ripe for a big price winner and he liked Josses Hill but has been put off by some negative stable reports in the last few days and the horse has drifted on the exchanges today.
Irving and Vautour are both short enough in the betting, according to Melish, who also would have been strong on Josses Hill if he hadn’t heard some negative reports in the last few hours. Hislop likes the chances of Vaniteux while Morris says he’s going in on the Mullins market leader.
Champion Hurdle: The New One 3/1, Hurricane Fly 3/1, Our Conor 9/2, My Tent Or Yours 9/2, Jezki 10/1, Melodic Rendezvous 20/1 & 50/1 Bar.
Lots of negativity about the Irish challenge here. Turner, who tipped up My Tent Or Yours on the basis of his Supreme Novices form from last season, was very much against Hurricane Fly on age grounds while Morris would be all over Our Conor if Danny Mullins wasn’t riding.
Queen Mother Champion Chase: Sire De Grugy 7/4, Arvika Ligeonniere 5/1, Benefficient 6/1, Captain Conan 6/1, Al Ferof 7/1, Kid Cassidy 8/1, Sizing Europe 14/1 & 16/1 Bar
For one of the first previews there was a lot of love for Sire De Gurgy, but the panel agreed he was a tad short in the betting. Turner thought the race has a good make up from a betting point of view as the challengers to Sire De Grugy, like Arvika Ligeonniere and Captain Conan, have the potential to completely blowout at Cheltenham. He likes Hinterland at the price.
Melish believed the race was a terrible betting race and didn’t have much an opinion while Morris also have a word for Hinterland, who according to him impressed with his jumping at Sandown last time out.
Ryanair Chase: Al Ferof 4/1, First Lieutenant 5/1, Dynaste 6/1, Menorah 10/1, Module 14/1, Hidden Cyclone 16/1 & 20/1 Bar.
John Hayles the owner of Al Ferof was in attendance here and he spoke about his horse’s chances: “The whole idea this season was to go for the Gold Cup. He didn’t act on the ground in the King George and last time. He is a brilliant 2m4f horse and I would be very disappointed if he didn’t win.”
Melish thought Hayles was spot on about Al Ferof, saying that he had a very good chance but openly admitted he hates the race. The vibes were negative from Hislop about Dynaste while Morris will be siding with whatever the market is backing as five of the last six winners had all been either first or second favourite.
World Hurdle: Big Buck’s 2/1, Annie Power 3/1, At Fishers Cross 6/1, More Of That 7/1, Rule The World 8/1, Zarkandar 10/1 & 12/1 Bar.
Turner views’ on Big Buck’s v Annie Power were interesting: “Difficult to see Big Buck’s being good enough to concede weight to Annie Power considering how close Voler Le Vedette got to him two years ago.”
Melish thinks the ground drying up will help At Fishers Cross at Cheltenham despite the trainer saying he wants very soft conditions.
Gold Cup: Bobs Worth 7/4, Silviniaco Conti 3/1, Last Instalment 7/1, Captain Chris 14/1, First Lieutenant 14/1, The Giant Bolster 20/1, Harry Topper 25/1 & 33/1 Bar.
Hislop admitting to backing Bobs Worth after his flop in the Betfair Chase but thinks the price has all gone now he’s into 7/4. Melish couldn’t separate the top two in the betting and made a good case for Teaforthree to run into a place in what is a poor Gold Cup.
Turner is also having a couple of each-way dabbles on Teaforthree and Long Run at 33/1.
WHAT DID WE LEARN:
• Jockey Danny Mullins is a big negative for Our Conor.
• Owner of Al Ferof is brimming with confidence ahead of the Ryanair.
• 40/1 Teaforthree is good enough to place in the Gold Cup, according to Melish and Turner.
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