Ballymore Novice Hurdle
It’s time for our Cheltenham Festival day two betting tips. Welcome to Wednesday and we get off and running with the renewal of this much-loved Grade 1 race decided over 2m 5f on what is expected to be testing ground for this time of year. Samcro won the title for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy last year but the stats are dead against the trainer defending his crown with each of the last four champions coming from different yards. Who will provide the 2019 ruler?
Champ is widely expected to live up to his name and those interested in supporting the ante-post leader can have him at 11/4 at 888sport, although he’s not for us as that looks a little tight. Sams Profile is 12/1 at 888sport and that’s more to our liking, especially with each-way terms of 1/4 the odds a place 1-2-3. He deserves more respect than the money men have afforded him, and that mistake should cost them.
Another Grade 1 with this run over the extended trip of three miles. Willie Mullins has won four titles to date and that puts him level with Fulke Walwyn as the most successful trainer. It makes sense that the former will pass that number and secure another piece of Cheltenham Festival history. No one jockey has won more than Pat Taaffe who scored five between 1953 and 1970.
Presenting Percy added his name to the winner’s list last year when landing glory for Pat Kelly and Davy Russell. Traders expect Delta Work to wrestle the crown on Wednesday and the current betting has him as favourite with no more than 15/8 up for grabs. Santini is a more attractive option at 7/2 and followers should do their betting at Unibet as many in the betting ring have the same outcome at 11/4.
A competitive renewal of the Coral Cup and the fact Uradel dominated the ante-post betting at 7/1 with Unibet suggests we’re set for a cracker. There’s little doubt the jolly deserves our respect, but we’d much prefer a punt on Whiskey Sour who leaps off the page at us at 12/1, top price when betting with 888sport.
Willie Mullins trains this six-year-old and he’ll arrive at Prestbury Park on a poor run of form, not winning a race of note since December 2017 when claiming the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardsown. That won’t do a lot to inspire confidence in backers but there’s talent in there, of that there can be no doubt, and if he runs to the best of his ability, he’ll ask questions of the more fancied runners in the pecking order. Worth an each-way bet.
Some of the hottest horses on the scene will be paraded at the start line for this race but odds makers expect a one-sided contest with Altior marked as odds-on favourite and he’s one of the hot picks of the week, according to those who hold the purse strings. Backers will have to make do with 4/9 – market best price at Unibet – and we expect him to appear in a fair share of accumulators. We can’t blame backers for following the money on that one either.
Hoping for an Upset
This is the Cheltenham Festival, however, and if Altior is going to win the race we’d rather let him do it and take a punt on a bigger price, hoping for an upset. Un De Sceaux is 16/1 and if he’s entered in the final field of the Champion Chase, we expect him to be a major player. Bet365 are giving 1/4 the odds a place 1-2-3, most firms going 1/5 the odds the first three.
Cross Country Chase
This promises to be a real slog over 3m 7f, but it’ll make for great viewing as the names in the frame are put to the test. Tiger Roll is 11/10 favourite with Coral – even money with most other firms – and it’s difficult to argue against that. He has the talent to win this race hands down, but we can’t back him at the price. It’s not what Cheltenham betting is about.
Find a Challenger
We find ourselves searching through the list for something capable of providing a challenge and found Tea For Two at 14/1 at 888sport as an outsider worth a punt. The fact the same horse is 12/1 in places caught our attention and the difference in price is astonishing. Back him each-way at 1/4 the odds the best three.
Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
A Grade 3 race over two miles, Gordon Elliott scooped the trophy last year thanks to Jack Kennedy’s ride on Veneer Of Charm and that’s the trainer’s second win in the last six years. We expect the prize to remain with its current owner and will be backing another from the Elliott yard in Lethal Steps.
Time to Shine
The four-year-old grey placed at Punchestown last month when ending behind Take Revenge and SP favourite Discordantly, but positives can be taken from that effort and he’ll shape all the better for it. Has been knocking on the door of late and this could be his time to shine on the big stage. 9/1 with Coral seems about fair and works for us.
The final race of Wednesday and we should have a few quid in our pocket by this stage, if things go according to plan. The one that will hopefully tip the balance in our favour and see us dent the bookies’ confidence is Envoi Allen at 7/2 at 888sport– as short as 3/1 in places, so tread carefully. This French-bred five-year-old – another flying the flag for Gordon Elliott – has won each of his three starts to date, scoring at Fairyhouse, Navan and, most recently, Leopardstown last month when bagging the Grade 2 Matheson over a couple of miles.
His 100% record is an obvious plus, but we think there’s more to come and should see improvement in this race against strong opposition. Four out of four serves as a real message of intent for the year ahead but he has it in him and Elliott will be excited about this one and he maps out the future.