Four Festival Fancies

I have always baulked at this blog turning into another “Big winners advised daily!” tipping line, but sometimes you have to nail your colours to the mast. Note that I’m giving you these selections for free, whether you want them or not, and without you having to subscribe or phone a premium rate number. If by some miracle you win anything from them, feel free to reciprocate with cash.

Let me start with the caveats:-
1) Punting at the Cheltenham Festival is like standing in a field tearing up £10 notes. Ante-post punting at the Festival is like losing your wallet before you even get to the field.

The winners are in there somewhere.....

The winners are in there somewhere…..

2) If I were a successful tipster I would not still be trying to sell copies of my book (remarkably, still a few left at the absurdly generous price of £15 from www.atried.com/shop)
3) The value of your investments can go down as well as disappear altogether, etc etc.

If you are still reading then presumably you understand all the things that can go wrong, but as a true gambler you choose to see the positives in life, the glass is half full, and your next big win is just around the corner. Here we go:-

Champion Hurdle – Camping Ground 2pts e/w 25/1 Bet 365 (NRNB)

With Faugheen and Arctic Fire out of the race, the market has really cut up and there could be room for an outsider to feature. Camping Ground sprang to prominence when slamming the progressive and tough Lil Rockerfeller by 11 lengths at Cheltenham on New Years Day, with World Hurdle winner Cole Harden and Top Notch behind. That was over two and a half miles on heavy ground, and was notable for the winner pulling hard through the race and yet still getting home easily.

Stepped up to three miles in the Cleeve Hurdle, he again pulled hard and raced wide, which eventually caught up with him in the straight on again very testing going. His disappointing 5th place has made him the forgotten horse of the race, but he won’t have to reoppose Thistlecrack in the Champion (a clear argument for not heading towards the World Hurdle) and the stronger pace should help him to settle. Yet again we see that small stables (in this case the trainer is Robert Walford) are overpriced in big races.

You could argue that he doesn’t have the class to win a Champion Hurdle, but it doesn’t look a very classy race now and it’s hard to work out why Top Notch is shorter in the betting. The favourite is Annie Power and it is difficult to argue with her record but she hasn’t run over the minimum trip for years and can get flighty on the big stage. She is the likeliest winner of an open race but I think she is poor value at less than 2/1.

The next four in the betting all have chances, but it’s hard to make a case for them at around the 5 or 6/1 mark. Nichols Canyon and Identity Thief are closely tied on form, My Tent Or Yours hasn’t run for two years, and The New One could finish only fifth last year. With firms offering ¼ the odds the first 3, I think an each way tickle is advisable. The NRNB concession means you get your money back if he does go for the stayers race.

Neptune Investment Novice Hurdle – Shantou Village 1pt e/w 20/1 Betway or 14/1 Bet365 (NRNB)

I spotted this fine animal in the early stages of my racecourse odyssey back in March last year when he won a NH flat race very cosily, and he has done nothing but progress since, giving some useful sorts a thrashing at Cheltenham’s November meeting and then finding only Yanworth too good at the end of January. It is quite possible that connections choose to avoid that rival and go for the longer Albert Bartlett over 3 miles (which is why I would advise going for Bet365 again who are now NRNB on all Festival races).

That does indeed look an easier task, and it is likely Shantou Village will stay, but he is only 6/1 for that. It is possible that the heavy ground in January didn’t suit him and I think a fast run 2m5f around Cheltenham will. With Yanworth odds-on, the value in the market seems to be in backing one each way against the worthy favourite.

Ryanair Chase – Village Vic 1pt e/w 12/1 Bet365 (NRNB)

Something seems to have clicked with the nine year old this season, and with proven Cheltenham form he looks the one to beat. Those two wins were in the winter mud, but he also has form on better ground and champion-jockey-elect Richard Johnson is likely to ride. He has entries in some of the handicaps, so again I prefer the Bet365 concession (and no I don’t work for them!) but with market-leader Vautour almost certainly heading to the Gold Cup this looks a winnable renewal of the race.

World Hurdle – Lil Rockerfeller ½pt e/w 33/1 Skybet NRNB

This tough little 5 year old has raced six times this season but still seems to be improving. Possibly his most impressive runs have been in defeat, finding Camping Ground too good and then shouldering top-weight in a competitive Ascot handicap. He may not be good enough to win, but at 33/1 will give you a run for your money.

Thistlecrack has been mighty this year and is a worthy favourite, but I can’t have him at Even money when there are big each-way odds elsewhere. With many of the others prominent in the betting likely to go elsewhere, this market has an attractive ante-post feel to it.

Accumulator – ½pt e/w 131819/1 Bet365 NRNB

For the dreamers amongst us, and to make it up to a round 10 points, the four-way accumulator should certainly pay for the celebration afterwards.