It’s a real boon for us punters that Paddy’s gone non-runner, no bet (NRNB) on the big four championship events for Cheltenham 2017.
There will be much better each-way opportunities closer the time when all the races are NRNB so for now I’ll go for the jugular and hit the win button.
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” – Francis Bacon.
But even the father of empiricism can be wrong, so let’s turn that theory on its head and start with the anchor leg. As much as my natural betting mentality is to oppose a short-price favourite, granted a clear round DOUVAN will win Wednesday’s Champion Chase so let’s bank the odds, get a winner on the betslip and move on.
The hardest part of this ante-post play is the Champion Hurdle, the feature race on the opening day, Tuesday, March 14.
Time is rapidly running out for 2015 champ Faugheen. Although Willie Mullins is undoubtedly a master of his craft, this now nine-year-old is potentially vulnerable despite 2017 being a far from vintage year for this famous race.
However, let’s go back to basics and the fact remains that the 2015 champ has only been beaten once in 13 starts and that came first time out last year in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, when Mullins admitted he had left his ace short of work against a tight, fit Nichols Canyon.
I love Brain Power as an individual, but he has a massive gap to bridge with the former champ even if Faugheen runs 6lbs below his best. Yanworth to my eyes can only win if this is run at a hectic pace as he is essentially a stayer running over two miles.
If FAUGHEEN lines up (due to run at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Hurdle on Jan 29) you can be sure Mullins will have him ready to run for his life and if he doesn’t run then your single stake is returned. So by a process of elimination, he is the hesitant early call at 5/4.
With a couple of shorties in the Lucky 15, we need to get a semblance of value into the investment and it comes in the form of CLONDAW WARRIOR in Thursday’s Stayers Hurdle.
If there is one horse in training I would love to own it’s this tremendously tough and classy dual purpose horse.
Apart from the fact that he would have banked me nearly on £500k in prize money to date, as a 10-year-old he is, incredibly, still unexposed over three miles.
His second in the Christmas Hurdle behind Vroum Vroum Mag is right up there with the best form on offer for the race.
With Annie Power rumoured to be Mares Hurdle bound, I think Clondaw has the fav UnowhatImeanharry to beat. I am clinging to the hope that good ground prevails on the Thursday as the ‘Warrior’ bounces off it and the Harry Fry charge is without doubt best with a degree of give. Hello 12/1!
And so to the final day’s Blue Riband event and Thistlecrack versus the world!
Cue Card is a much better horse going left-handed so his chance is clear for all to see. To my eyes Native River still isn’t good enough and will do well to get Thistlecrack off the bridle which possibly leaves the twice-placed Djakadam as the each-way value at 8/1.
However, it’s boring, it’s straightforward, but it’s bloody obvious, THISTLECRACK wins.
If Faugheen is 5/4 for the Champion, shouldn’t the King George hero be 8/13 for the Gold Cup?
So in theory, 10/11 is relative value for a horse that is proven on the Prestbury Park gradients, has no ground issues and is highly likely to improve on his Kempton win for this greater test of stamina on only his fifth starts over fences.
So consider this, if the three ‘shorties’ all win it will yield a profit of just over six points. Food for thought?
However, should Clondaw Warrior knockout UnowhatImeanharry then your profit rockets to 292 points. Happy days!