It’s time for our Jan 26 Horse Racing betting tips and predictions. We are fast approaching the 2018 Cheltenham Festival with the bulk of January’s results already in the book. Interest begins to grow in the world-famous Prestbury Park meeting and eagle-eyed punters looking to catch a jump on traders are now finding themselves sifting through form, figures and even the industry’s gossip columns.
Cheltenham racecourse hosts what could be considered a bit of a dress rehearsal of the main attraction when staging a seven-race card on Saturday afternoon. Racing gets started at 12.40pm with the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle over two miles; there are also three other graded races on the schedule.
Bookies are keen to add extra drama to the occasion and offer early betting on each of the day’s biggest events. Their ante-post markets throw up a fair share of value, allowing backers to beat the crowds and secure a better price than most about their runner.
Our team of experts take you through the major talking points on an afternoon that should serve as an education for horse racing backers.
JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle
Adjali is favourite with all major bookmakers going into this one and punters happy enough to follow the crowd can get their hands on a market best price 2/1 with Ladbrokes. That may seem a touch tight, given some of the competitive renewals of this race we have seen over the years; however, there’s no doubt the market leader is fully deserving of his spot at the top of the tree.
The German-bred four-year-old gelding belongs to Simon Munir and Isaac Souede; they have entrusted their prize possession to the capable hands of star trainer Nicky Henderson, a man who isn’t short on success at Cheltenham.
The bay has raced only twice before in this part of the world after being shipped over from France. He made a winning debut at Market Rasen back in December over this trip when landing the Dynamic Lincoln Juvenile Hurdle. That was followed by a runner-up spot at Chepstow behind Quel Destin in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle.
Take a Chance on a Bigger Price
He was beaten by a neck that day, despite being sent off a 4/6 favourite; that minor slip-up, as well as his lack of experience of riding in the UK, puts us off backing him at the odds. Instead, we’ll take a chance on Chief Justice who is a rather more attractive 12/1 at Ladbrokes.
Gordon Elliott’s four-year-old has an impressive CV over the jumps; he’s won four of seven and finished second in the other three. He bagged a Grade 3 Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December at 5/1, holding 8/13 fav Coeur Sublime off a short-head. Worth a bet each-way at 1/5 the odds a place 1-2-3.
Others on the list that may catch your eye away from the two already mentioned are: Torpillo 2/1, Our Power 5/1 both at Ladbrokes; Protektorat 6/1 at William Hill; Nelson River 10/1 at Coral; Dogon 16/1 at Ladbrokes and Surin at a chunky 16/1 at Unibet.
Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle
A Grade 2 race, the Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle will be run over the 2m 4f trip and the early field consists of 14 runners. However, we are expecting that to be whittled down somewhat between now and the final declarations. With £18,000 on offer to the race winner, we have a few names of note in the current line-up; this includes race favourite Birchdale who leads the ante-post list with no more than 5/2 on the line at William Hill.
The five-year-old gelding, another progressive sort out of the Nicky Henderson yard, has run only once before. However, he made it a winning effort when claiming the prize over 2m 5f at Warwick in a maiden hurdle; the gelding smashed the field by four lengths and lived up to the expectations of bookies who had him a 9/4 fav. A smart winning distance and he won with such ease that punters instantly jotted his name down in their notebooks as one to keep on the right side of going forward.
Side with Experience
Another backers must give the benefit of the doubt to, but he’s not for us. We’re not denying just how good Birchdale was on debut and there’s plenty more to come from this horse, but there are still question marks hanging over his head and we’d want a little more than the 5/2 offered if we were to consider parting with our hard-earned cash.
Instead, we again find ourselves looking through the betting for a capable rival at a better price and the one to carry our stake money after careful consideration is Emitom, one that can be backed at as big as 4/1 at Betfred. If having a pop, please be careful who you trust with your stake as many firms are as short as 7/2 on the same bet and it would be foolish to throw away two points in what will be a tight race. Use your head and always take the best price possible, even if that means opening an account with a few bookmakers and casting your net further than before.
A Perfect Record
Warren Greatex is responsible for preparing this five-year-old who arrives at course with a perfect four-race record. He got off the mark at Warwick when scoring on good to soft last year off an SP 11/2; Emitom followed that with wins around Ascot 3/1, Ffos Las 2/1 and, most recently, Lingfield at a nailed on 1/8. Bookies learned their lesson.
The latter was over two miles and he ran his rivals into the ground that day with runner-up Megalodon crossing the line as runner-up, a full five lengths off the pace, carrying a 14/1 price tag. Playa Blanca completed the major places when ending third but was beaten just shy of nine lengths, proving the victor’s quality. This represents another step up in class for Emitom; however, from what we’ve seen from him so far, he’s more than good enough to answer the call and take his record to five.