*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
You can countdown from any distance or number really but there’s something about exactly a month that resonates.
In exactly four weeks’ times – that’s 28 days for those counting – thousands will head to Prestbury Park for what will feel like racing’s big release. Yes, we’ve had multiple meetings since March 2020, but the Festival is National Hunt’s cornerstone and will continue to be. Until we hear a roar pre-Supreme, it won’t quite land that we’re back in business.
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And with that in mind, your good friends at Paddy Power have gone Non-Runner Money Back on all races at the Cheltenham Festival, meaning your ante-post picks are in safe hands right now.
The Festival is four weeks away and on our themed countdown, we’re going to give you four bets – one for each day outside of the Championship races. Of course, the key benefit being that we can take a punt on these right now and if they don’t line up in the race, then your money’s safe anyway.
We can’t say fairer than that, surely?
This might be the first case of equine classism I’ve stumbled upon. If Jonbon didn’t cost what he did, everyone would be finding the positives in him.
So far, we’ve got a Grade 2 Kennel Gate win that was being picked apart totally differently than its pre-race billing; podcasts knocking him because he didn’t smile in a photo in the winners’ enclosure and pundits saying him having to find off the bridle at Haydock on bottomless ground was a negative.
Yes, he’s not as fat as Sir Gerhard and no, he doesn’t have as freakish a profile as Constitution Hill – but he does have tactical pace and given how hard they go in the Supreme Novices Hurdle traditionally, there’s an awful lot of horses in behind that could well be beaten three out. Jonbon will be going as well as anything at this stage, that much I can guarantee you.
It’s not his fault he’s expensive.
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I understand the price isn’t for everyone, but I do genuinely believe that if Willie Mullins sends him here, Galopin Des Champs be a wide-margin winner and we’ll be talking about distance markets rather than winners’ markets post-declarations.
It’s worth noting I think this horse’s long-term sweet spot is the Ryanair distance because of his ability to jump at speed, but with all the vibes suggesting he’ll go here to avoid the Bob Olinger clash, many will look to come down in trip to avoid him as well.
Bravemansgame looks all but certain to take him on, but his prep run in a handicap is a peculiar exercise just four weeks out. Obviously he was giving weight away so was never going to be a wide-margin winner, I just thought he was squeezed a touch more after the last than I’d have liked.
Ahoy Senor might go to Aintree and might go to the Gold Cup, L’homme Presse is probably going for the Turners’ and after that, you’re kind of struggling to find a potential Grade 1 horse in open company going forward.
There’s a lot in the betting that’ll either pitch into open company or into handicaps on the chance of being well-treated with their mares’ allowance. So there could be a lot of bolstering the price of others that will absolutely target this race alone.
That’s my logic when selecting Elle Est Belle.
Her profile makes her far more appealing and the betting is probably being dictated by the flashy nature of a Rich Ricci horse (is this 2015 again?). She was disappointing on her seasonal reappearance at Newcastle but he improved for each run since, including fourth in the Kennel Gate before Christmas and her prep run last week at Huntingdon suggests she can be versatile enough to win a race that has a lot of pace in its entries.
The fact she gets to run on the new course gives me even more hope than her third behind Sir Gerhard in last year’s Champion Bumper, too. The only lingering doubt is that she may be kept for Aintree, but we have the non runner money back concession to help us.
Now, while I fully accept the aim always seemed to be the Ballymore with him, you’d do well to convince anyone he wasn’t getting in the latter stages of that run at Naas last time out.
Journey With Me was a buzz horse in the ante-post market, primarily because of the owner/trainer combo that proved so fruitful in that race last year, but on all evidence I’ve seen, he needs further.
It might be the unfashionable thing to do because this race gets an awful rap but he’d be far more suited to it especially on the New Course at Cheltenham.
And of course, the irony is that he was comfortably ahead of Minella Crooner who will likely lead the betting when some of the likelier Ballymore types come out. With that in mind, it’s worth investing on the basis that your stake gets returned in Paddy’s non runner money back offer.
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