Analysing the Four Feature Races at Cheltenham 2018
The 2018 Cheltenham Festival (13th-16th March) is mere weeks away, with the excitement palpably building each day that the national hunt racing showcase draws closer. As ever, much of the focus of the build-up to Cheltenham is on the four marquee races – the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Gold Cup. These four inevitably get the most scrutiny, usually driven by the buzz surrounding a big betting favourite.
However, there are questions hanging over some of the ‘big players’ in each feature race this year, which leads to more open betting markets and, perhaps, something of an opportunity for punters.
Champion Hurdle, 15:30pm 13th March:
The only feature race at the Festival to currently have an odds-on favourite in the ante-post betting markets. That is, of course, Buveur D’Air (8/13), who will be looking to join Hurricane Fly and Hardy Eustace as a two-time Champion Hurdle winner in the 21st century. The main threat comes from Faugheen (5/1, BetBright) who puzzled everyone with his performance at Leopardstown over Christmas. The good news for punters is that we should see the two in action at the Irish Champion Hurdle in Dublin in early-February. A win for either will really firm up the betting markets.
Queen Mother Champion Chase, 15:30pm 14th March:
Most horse-racing fans were licking their lips in anticipation of a showdown between Altior and a fully-fit Douvan. Unfortunately, Altior is in a race against time to recover from a wind operation and Douvan is still dealing with the issues that blighted him in last year’s Champion Chase. The markets have reacted, putting Altior in at 11/8 and installing Politologue as second-favourite at 7/2 (Ladbrokes). Such is the confusion over his fitness, Douvan is as low as 3/1 with major bookmakers like Paddy Power and Betfred, but as high as 7/1 with Sporting Bet. Put simply, nobody really knows what is going on. In that respect, it might be the perfect race to use a promotion on, so follow the link to claim a free bet for Cheltenham Festival 2018.
Stayers’ Hurdle, 15:30pm 15th March:
Another race that has a very open feel about it. Sam Spinner, who had a marvellous performance in the Long Walk Hurdle, leads the ante-post markets at 4/1 with nearly all major bookmakers. However, a lot of cash has been placed on the likes of Supasundae (7/1), Finian’s Oscar (8/1) and L’Ami Serge (10/1, Bet365). Last year’s favourite, Unowhatimeanharry, also seems to be finding those who believe he can rediscover his old form with odds of 14/1 available. That one might be the smartest bet of the Festival.
Cheltenham Gold Cup, 15:30pm 16th March:
The general consensus is that the 2018 Gold Cup is Might Bite’s race to lose this year. A stunning 2017 culminated in victory in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, which drove the betting markets in his favour. Such is the toughness of the Gold Cup however, Might Bite is still available at odds of 7/2 with most UK bookmakers. Those who believe that the recent poor performance at Leopardstown of last year’s winner, Sizing John, was just a blip can still find Jessica Harrington’s charge at 6/1 generally. Native River (8/1), Coney Island (8/1), Our Duke (8/1) and Road to Respect (10/1) also offer enough class to ensure that the 2018 Gold Cup race could be a vintage one.