It’s Friday and it’s time for our Cheltenham Festival day four betting tips & predictions. Will the favourites pull through, or will outsiders bring home the bacon?
Sir Erec stood as one of the hottest picks in the ante-post markets with backers able to find no more than Bet365’s 11/10. That’s short, especially as we’ve already seen some strong market leaders struggle this week, so it will come as no surprise to our followers to see us oppose the traders and look to get a bit more of a price for our stake. If you’re going to back a winner at the festival, you’ll want it to be better than that.
Flying on a Friday
The runner to carry our hopes in this year’s Triumph Hurdle and the one we expect to get Friday off to a flyer is Gardens Of Babylon. There was some confusion on the trading floors regarding the price of our pick in the build-up with Ladbrokes offering 10/1 while some of their rivals went around the 8/1 mark. That alone makes him with a punt as backing overpriced selections in a sure-fire way to make money in horse racing. Each-way backers get ¼ the odds a place 1-2-3, but we prefer to trust him for the win in what will be a competitive opener.
A Grade 3 race run over 2m 1f, the County Hurdle is always an enjoyable watch but it’s far easier to follow if you are sitting on a nice priced selection with a real chance of bashing the bookies. Farclas helped followers achieve just that last year when winning the prize for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy ahead of Mr Adjudicator and Sayo. If we get a contest anywhere near as interesting as that one, we will be happy.
A Shot of Whisky
Nicky Henderson rates as the County Hurdle’s most successful trainer on six titles and he’s joined by Barry Geraghty on five as the most successful jockey to contest this prize. A few from the list appeal at this stage but we’re throwing the weight of our support behind Whiskey Sour at 8/1 with 888sport – 7/1 available with most other firms. The money has come for him over the last few weeks and we think it’ll pay-off.
Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle
The second Grade 1 race of the afternoon and three miles stands between a stacked field and the prize money. Followers of the trends will know Tony McCoy has won more times at this level than any other rider and Jonjo O’Neill rates as the top trainer, but there really isn’t a lot in it. Kilbricken Storm beat Ok Corral and Santini last year, giving Colin Tizzard and Harry Cobden a return to the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure.
No Clear Front Runner
There has been no clear favourite in the exchanges so far with Commander Of Fleet and Birchdale vying for position at the top of the market, both offered at 7/1. We always like to seize on any indecision amongst traders and will do so again by backing Rhinestone at 12/1 (Ladbrokes). Another from the O’Brien yard, this six-year-old was second in Grade 1 company in Leopardstown last time out, beaten ½ a length by Commander Of Fleet and, on that showing, deserves another chance.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
This is what it has all been about and we’ll see records broken on this race as fans flock to Prestbury Park and send the field off with that world-famous roar. First run in 1924, we’ve had some memorable winners of the Grade 1, including Native River for Colin Tizzard and Richard Johnson last year, beating Might Bite and Anibale Fly. The 2019 field boasts some of the best horses in the business at this level and we’re set for a cracker.
Backing the Jolly
Favourites don’t seem to do particularly well at the Cheltenham Festival but backing the jolly in this race has paid off in recent years and knowing that will push many casual punters into a bet on Presenting Percy at 7/2 (Bet365). We’re a real fan of Pat Kelly’s eight-year-old star and he has made followers plenty of profits over the years. He won each of his last two, including the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle in Gowran last time. Others worth a mention at a bigger price are Kemboy 10/1, Bellshill 12/1 and Thistlecrack at 16/1.
Stand Up And Fight has attracted attention in the early betting for this race but, after taking the favourite in the Gold Cup, we’re returning to our quest for big priced winners. The runner carrying our stake money in this 3m 2f contest is Shantou Flyer at 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
Looking for the Hat-Trick
The nine-year-old arrives seeking a hat-trick, having won each of his last two, including a hunters chase at Fontwell last month. He looks fit, healthy and in the right frame of mind and the price makes him easy to back. Each-way backers will get ¼ the odds a place 1-2-3.
Another big field is expected to go to post for the renewal of the Grand Annual and although the excitement of the festival usually dies down after the Gold Cup, there’s still reason to get involved and bookmakers offer attractive prices to lure you into a punt. Magic Saint is 11/2 favourite at the time of writing and deserves to be popular, but we’re having Le Prezien at 12/1 (Bet365).
A Repeat Performance
Paul Nicholls’ hope has finished in the top-three 14 times form 20 starts, including six wins, and that will catch the eye of each-way bettors who will get five places with some firms. Le Prezien was second behind Silver Streak in the Welsh Champion Hurdle recently and we’re hoping for a repeat.
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
This ungraded race over 2m 4f will close the show at this year’s Cheltenham Festival and it’s our last roll of the dice. Hopefully by this point we find ourselves ahead of the bookies but, if not, Early Doors will be asked to do us a favour at 12/1, top price with 888sport. Be careful who you trust with this one as most firms give only 10/1 on the same runner.