The greatest racing festival of all is now just a few days away and to further whet the appetite ahead of the start of Cheltenham this Tuesday, I have brought together a panel of 4 of the shrewdest racing brains to get their best Cheltenham 2014 Tips.
Fielding my questions were 4 times Racing Post naps champion and Easyodds columnist – Paul Jacobs, top racing writer and owner of the geegeez website – Matt Bisogno, SBC’s very own racing expert – Scott Armstrong and the highly-rated racing tipster – Rob from Pounds to Punters.
Below you can find out their 3 best bets for Cheltenham, their ‘darkhorses’ to watch, the short-priced faves they want to take on and much more besides…
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SBC: What race are you most looking forward to watching at Cheltenham this year and why?
Paul: Gold Cup – Purely because I was mesmerised by the way Bobs Worth came home after side stepping Silviniaco Conti. I was also cheering for my life (or should that be for my VAT payment), having backed him at 20/1 to win both the Hennessy and the Gold Cup. Such a brave and genuine horse.
Matt: The Cross Country, because I have my main bet of the week running. And it’s a great spectacle despite what the ‘purists’ may say.
Scott: The Champion Hurdle is a fascinating contest with the young guard – The New One, Our Conor and My Tent Or Yours taking on the old guard in the form of Hurricane Fly.
Rob: The race I’m looking forward to most this year is the Champion Hurdle on day 1. It looks like it will be electric with both Hurricane Fly and The New One fighting it out for favouritism but I’ll be taking them both on with My Tent Or Yours. My Tent Or Yours has already won two Grade One races this season. Perhaps a little fortunate beating The New One in the Christmas Hurdle after his rival messed up at the second last but I will take the chance and as long as he turns up fit I think he will go close.
SBC: If you could name your top 3 bets to watch out for at Cheltenham this year, who would they be and why?
Scott: Annie Power to win the World Hurdle is my banker bet secured at 5-2. Horses don’t often come back with the same panache after a tendon injury which will make life tough for Big Bucks. Throw in Annie Power’s 7lb mares allowance and the fact I don’t see the step up in trip being an issue and she becomes a very good bet. Red Sherlock I have backed in the Neptune Novices Hurdle each-way at 6-1. I believe this is a horse with a big future and despite having “swished” his tail in races he is a gutsy sort who’s resolution cannot be questioned. Indian Castle would be my third pick at current best odds of 6-1. The step up in trip looks sure to suit and the horse is Donald McCain’s best chance of the week.
Rob: My 3 best bets for the festival are – Corrin Wood who is likely to run in the RSA. He is an improving young horse who is unbeaten in 3 races over fences this season and you can’t help but be impressed by his win at Catterick back in December. I really fancy Goodwood Mirage for the Fred Winter, he hampered his chances by continually jumping left at the hurdles over Kempton last month so I would like to think the Cheltenham track will suit and finally My Tent Or Yours to win the Champion Hurdle.
Matt: My three are:
- Big Shu – very good horse who can carry the weight in the Cross Country.
- Quevega – story horse and a very strong stayer (would have won further last year but for being hampered).
- Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti ‘coupled’ in the Gold Cup – they’re around 8/11 the pair, and I simply can’t see anything beating both of them.
Paul: My three to back would be:
- Raya Star in the Grand Annual – the drying ground is perfect and although he has enough weight Alan King’s charge simply oozes class.
- Harbour Court in the Foxhunters – This really is the new kid on the block. Again the drying ground is a positive for a horse with speed as well as stamina running against, in the main, plodders.
- Bobs Worth in the Gold Cup – It’s a weak renewal and back on ‘home territory’ he will surely have too much up the hill for Conti…..who to my mind, against popular opinion took a tired fall last year.
SBC: Do you fancy any horses that might go off at big prices that we should keep an eye on? Perhaps there are 1 or 2 who might have gone under the radar so far and could be teed up for a big Cheltenham coup!
Matt: I’ve backed loads at prices, but it’s always the way that the ones I mention won’t win. Anyway, Caveat Emptor, Carlingford Lough and Many Clouds in the RSA; and Space Ship if he gets a run in the Fred Winter (crying out for good ground, rated 94 on the level)
Scott: I like Caid Du Berlais in the Martin Pipe conditionals handicap hurdle. The Pipe’s will of course target this race but the step up to 2m4f will suit Paul Nicholls’ Caid Du Berlais. The talented Harry Derham takes the ride and there’s confidence within the yard.
Rob: One that I fancy and is sure to be overlooked at the Festival is Baby Mix in the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase. He is in great form this season and looks to have matured and improved since joining the Warren Greatrex yard, Davy Russell is also booked and I think at 20/1 its worth taking an each way punt.
Paul: See my ‘value bets’ piece on the Easyodds site …although I have to say I am dumbfounded by the decision to send Module for the Queen Mother rather than the Ryanair. I can see Cause for Causes being a big mover if he runs in the Baylis and Harding and ending up favourite for that race.
SBC: How about a short-priced horse to take on? Are there any you just don’t fancy at skinny odds?
Rob: I personally believe Quevega is worth taking on at 4/6 in the Mares Hurdle. You have to respect Quevega for obvious reasons, she will be going for her sixth consecutive win in the contest and she’s a legend – there is no disputing that. However, this year I’ll be backing Sirene D’Ainay each way as she looks to be a massive each way alternative at 10/1 against the red hot favourite. Sirene D’Ainay finished second in the race last year after getting caught in the last 100 yards and I don’t see why she won’t go close again.
Will she spoil Quevegas party? or will I be made to look like an idiot?.. we will see next week.
Paul: I will be taking on Ruby Walsh for top festival jockey – as the investment firms suggest past performances are no guide to future profitability and ‘in-running’ there is plenty of value further down the list especially if Vautour doesn’t win the opener.
Matt: I’d be hopeful that fielding against the Mullins novice favourites (Faugheen, Vautour, Champagne Fever, etc) would yield a small profit. But I prefer to back a couple against them.
Scott: Not so much one I don’t fancy but of the favourites, Sire De Grugy would be the one I’d take on with the track not playing to the horses strengths.
SBC: Although the Gold Cup doesn’t quite have the vintage line-up of recent years, who do you fancy to oblige here? Can you see beyond either of Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti?
Rob: Yeah, I like both Captain Chris and First Lieutenant for the Gold Cup. Either of the two could be the shockers of the festival.
Scott: I would much rather back the front two in the market than take them on. Of the two I feel Silviniaco Conti is the better value at the current best price of 3-1 rather than Bobs Worth at 15-8.
Matt: As I mentioned earlier, I can’t see past the first two. Rocky Creek could run into the frame as progressive and lightly raced.
Paul: Bob’s worth for me as I stated in the first question.
SBC: Do you think there is any value in Ireland to take the inaugural Prestbury Cup (To be won by the country that trains the most winners between GB and Ireland?). The Irish are currently a best priced 5/1.
Scott: I would expect Great Britain to come out on top but with Betfair offering this market and hopefully turning it in-play I’d expect the 5-1 to shorten with patriotic Irish punters getting involved in backing their own. A small punt at the current 5-1 with a view to laying off before the festival begins may have some worth but it’s anyone’s guess whether there will be any liquidity in this market.
Paul: Again from an in-running point of view yes. They have a strong line-up on day one…so you could take the strategic view and back to lay.
Matt & Paul: Not interested in this sort of market.
SBC: Finally, if you could give just one bit of advice for punters looking to profit from their betting at Cheltenham this year, what would it be?
Matt: Know your strengths, and plan for a four day battle, not a one or two day sprint. It’s a long way to the Grand Annual, and if you need the winner of that to get out of jail, you’re in trouble!
Paul: Remember a 5/1 winner at Cheltenham pays the same as a 5/1 winner at say Uttoxeter the following Saturday so don’t go overboard simply because it is the greatest racing festival in the world.
Scott: Remember the hill. You need a horse that shall stay the distance at top speeds. For a horse running at 2m be confident they get the trip of 2m4f. For 3m be confident the horse would stay 3m2f. Apply this logic to all distances.
Thanks Go To Our Expert Contributors!
My thanks go to all 4 of our expert contributors for taking the time to answer these Cheltenham questions.
Whatever you bet on at the famous festival – I hope its a profitable one for you!
Peter – SBC Editor
Download Your Free Cheltenham Profit Pack
If you enjoyed this Cheltenham Q and A session, why not grab hold of the Smart Betting Club’s 74-Page Profit Pack, which features a lot more from each of these 4 racing experts including…
- Exclusive Tips From 4 Times Racing Post Naps Champion – Paul Jacobs
- Cheltenham Analysis & Tips From Racing Guru Matt Bisogno
- The Best Ante-Post Cheltenham Tips From Expert Scott Armstrong
- Free Champion Hurdle Analysis & Tips From The ‘Value Bettor‘
- 57 Pages Of Key Trends For All 27 Cheltenham 2014 Races From Pounds to Punters