Saturday, February 24, 2024

Cheltenham Festival tips: View from the trader

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Sky Bet trader Kieran Betteley reveals his Cheltenham Festival fancies.

Who is your banker of the meeting?

If we take price out of the equation, Gaillard Du Mesnil looks very tough to beat in the National Hunt Chase having already proven stamina and class. One that represents a little more value is Gaelic Warrior in the Ballymore who sets a high standard having won a handicap at the Dublin Race Festival very easily off top weight and a mark of 143. Although there’s obvious concerns about him jumping right handed, I’d expect him to be ridden sensibly up the inside which should negate any wayward tendencies. His main market rivals have been visually impressive, but the substance of Gaelic Warrior’s form makes him my strongest fancy of the week.

Which short-price favourite do you think looks vulnerable?

Gerri Colombe has been popular at many a preview evening, but I’d be willing to take him on in the Brown Advisory. Despite being unbeaten, I’ve never been too impressed by what he’s achieved, including at Sandown last month. He looked in trouble against a couple of rivals who had shown limitations in both handicaps and graded races and, with his price contracting over the last few weeks, I think he’s well worth taking on. Although he looks sure to be suited by the step up in trip, he looks vulnerable to a classier type.


Is there anything you could see going well at a double-figure price in a graded race?

The Sky Bet Supreme looks a wide open affair, so there could be plenty of value in those a little further down the betting. High Definition was a former Epsom Derby favourite and he showed an appetite for the jumping game when making a winning start over Hurdles at Leopardstown over Christmas. The form of that maiden hurdle appears fairly strong with the second (Jetara) since finishing second in a Grade 3, and the third (Parmenion) winning at the same venue by 14 lengths. Also behind him that day included Diverge who will reoppose having won a Punchestown Maiden by 23 lengths. High Definition will need to sharpen up his jumping having shown a tendency to jump right, including when unseating rider at the Dublin Racing Festival, but reports from the yard suggest he’s had plenty of practice since.

Is there anything that catches your eye in the specials markets?

Most firms are up with a market for “the race to be won by the widest margin” and I’d fancy the National Hunt Chase at 7/1. Gaillard Du Mesnil has already beaten most of these rivals by double figure distances throughout the season and I see no reason he won’t do the same again over a trip he should relish. With plenty of rain forecast between now and Tuesday, the finale on day one could see the worst of ground conditions.

Which horse is the firm’s biggest ante-post liability?

Facile Vega is a loser in all of our Antepost, NRNB & Money Back books. Last year’s Champion Bumper winner has been favourite for this race since last March and despite getting beat at the Dublin Racing Festival, he’s been heavily supported in the last couple of weeks. He was 7/2 following his defeat at Leopardstown, but he’s all the rage now and currently 2/1 favourite. Not only would he be a bad result as a single, he would also kick off any multiples including Mullins runners.

Which horse has been best backed since the handicap weights came out?

A horse with a very interesting profile is Bad who runs in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap for the Ben Pauling team. He’d been as big as 25/1 at the start of the week but he’s now single figures after sustained market support. He’ll be making his UK debut following a trio of runs at Bordeaux in France and plenty of punters seem confident he’s been let off lightly by the handicapper on a mark of 126. He’ll be looking to go one better than Gaelic Warrior who followed the same path last year, and is bidding to emulate Diego Du Charmil who won this on his first UK start back in 2016.

Which horse could you see being well backed on the day?

I’d be surprised if Ashroe Diamond doesn’t come for significant support in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. She’s been mixing it with Grade 1 Horses all season and there’s ample opportunity for her form to be boosted before the Thursday afternoon. Punters rarely need much of an excuse to latch onto a Willie Mullins horse, and she looks like his best chance in the race.



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