It will take little more than a passing glance at the sport section of a newspaper to realise that there’s mounting excitement over what’s about to get underway in one small corner of Gloucestershire. When it comes to jump racing there are two main events: the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival. We’re still more than a month away from National Weekend at Aintree, but we’re now just a matter of days away from the return of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. That means now is the perfect time to be having a look at the various ante-post bets you can place, taking advantage of that golden period of time just before the odds begin to take a tumble and bookmakers settle on their favourites for the races.
This blog is a chance to have another look at the various horses that are being favoured for the Big Five races, seeing how the odds have shifted since I first looked at them a couple of months ago. You’ll likely have your own betting patterns, but personally I like to get a couple of ante-post bets in ahead of the start of a meeting before adding a couple more on the days of the races, depending on how much the odds have moved in the build-up to the starter’s orders.
Hopefully this will help you to make your own decisions on that front, including deciding whether or not to get your bets on now if the odds on certain horses only seem to be heading in one direction. Cheltenham is such an exciting week of racing, I hope that you’ve been following my blogs and now feel ready to take on the bookies when the Cheltenham Roar kicks things off!
How Have The Odds On The Top Cheltenham Runners Changed?
It’s inevitable that markets will shift as the Cheltenham Festival gets ever closer. That means that it’s difficult to decide whether any shortening of the odds is because of the performance of horses in recent races, or whether it’s all simply because the bookmakers are feeling more confident in their predictions.
Throughout the week there are unquestionably races that particular trainers and jockeys seem to prefer, so have a read through the guides to all of the races once you know which horses will be ridden by which jockeys and make informed decisions from there. For now, though, let’s have a look at the Big Five and explore whether or not the odds have moved much over the last couple of months:
One of the most interesting things about the Champion Hurdle is the extent to which there is a very clear favourite in the eyes of the bookmakers and how it hasn’t changed much at all over the past couple of months. In my first blog post I noted that Buveur D’Air was the runaway favourite at 8/15, with the next closest horses being Faugheen at 5/1 and then Melon at 7/1.
In my most recent piece I pointed out that Buveur D’Air was still way out in front, but that the odds had lengthened ever so slightly to 2/5. They’ve come back in since then, however, currently sitting at 4/9. Faugheen had moved to 6/1 and has since dropped back in to 5/1, whilst Melon lengthened to 12/1. You’ll be able to get 10/1 for Melon now, which are the same odds as you’ll find for both My Tent Or Yours and Yorkhill. The price for the latter two hasn’t actually moved since my last blog, it’s just that Melon is now the same as them when he was longer quite recently.
If there’s always been a favourite for the Champion Hurdle then that’s as nothing when compared to the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Altior started at 5/4 a couple of months ago, was still there in the wake of Festival Trials Day and has actually come in to 8/11 since then. If the bookies are to be believed then you might want to have a look at the market without Altior if you’re hoping to find a little bit of value. If you think there might be an upset, however, then Min might be the horse to bet on – having been 9/2 he moved to 3/1 and is now 11/4.
Douvan is also an interesting choice, having been nowhere near the top of the betting when I wrote my first piece but shifting into the third-favourite position at 4/1 when I wrote my blog after the Festival Trials Meeting. Now Douvan is 9/2, meaning that the odds have lengthened but that he’s not being ruled out altogether. Politologue might be a horse whose name encourages a flurry of bets in the current climate, so bettors will be pleased to see that he’s been gradually lengthening. He’s moved from 3/1 to 4/1 and is now as long as 8/1. Worthy of an Each-Way punt, perhaps?
There’s been steady movement over the odds for the Ryanair Chase, with bookmakers becoming more and more cautiously optimistic that they know which way the race is going to go. Un De Sceaux has long been the favourite, but his price is coming in with every passing day. He began at 4/1 a couple of months ago, dropping to 3/1 last month and is 2/1 at the time of writing. An ante-post bet now might your last chance to get decent odds before they fall even more in the build-up to the race.
Fox Norton was one of the favourites but has since been withdrawn from the running for the Ryanair Chase, showing the importance of trying to make sure that you’ve placed your bets with Non-Runner, No Bet offers in place. Waiting Patiently wasn’t in the top five horses when I wrote my first blog but was 7/1 after the Cheltenham Trials. The horse is now 3/1 second-favourite, perhaps indicating just how open this race is likely to be. You’ll recognise plenty of other names in there too, such as Top Notch and Douvan, but a bet on them is risky as they’re likely to run in other races instead.
Paddy Power have had Apples Jade as the favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle pretty much from the first moment that started issuing odds, with the site having a nice feature on it that tells what the horse has been offered at previously. Having started life at 3/1 it moved to 11/4 and has remained there since. Supasundae, meanwhile, was 7/2 before dropping to 3/1 and has now moved out to 4/1.
Sam Spinner remains a horse that the bookmakers just aren’t all that sure about. He began Stayers’ Hurdle betting life at 4/1 and didn’t move at all in the wake of the Festival Trials, but has shifted to 5/1 as we creep closer to the start of the Festival. Yanworth, on the other hand, is now seen as the main challenger to Apples Jade. He was 10/1 when I wrote my first blog, closed in to 7/1 last time out and is now the 7/2 second-favourite.
Obviously the race that the majority of casual punters will be most interested in is the Gold Cup and those that are wondering if they should be regretting not getting an ante-post bet on sooner will be glad to see that there’s been no real shift in prices since my last piece. Might Bite was 7/2 with BetBright initially and is now the same 10/3 price that he was last time out. Sizing John is shifting about like a paper bag in the wind, having been 6/1, lengthening to 7/1 and now coming back in to 6/1.
There’s a nice little bit of intrigue building up around the Gold Cup at moment in the form of the movement of Native River. The horse was 11/1 joint-fourth favourite when I wrote my first blog post on the Cheltenham Festival, moving to 10/1 but remaining fourth-favourite after Festival Trials. He’s now shifted to the second-favourite position, despite the fact that his odds haven’t moved all that much. You can get 11/2, which is worth a punt if you fancy an ante-post bet but think Might Bite isn’t good value for your money. Definitely Red, meanwhile, remains at 16/1 despite winning the Cotswold Chase on Trials Day.