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Between March 2010 and April 2017, this blog recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, resulting in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 on cumulative stakes of £5,726 - this is equivalent to a Return On Investment of 26.60%.


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Friday 5 January 2024

Cheltenham Festival 2024 - Antepost guide

It's been a long time, but the Wayward Lad blog is back with a focus on the 2024 Cheltenham Festival and building-up a profitable antepost wager portfolio.  There's been some tremendous racing in Britain and Ireland over the Christmas and New Year period, which has been (as  usual) very informative.   

Let's start with the Championship races, and to be fair I was going to look at the main races in depth; but they look fairly well cut & dried. It's very difficult to see anything beating Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle.  Then Galopin Des Champs laid down a significant marker to suggest he will be able to retain his Gold Cup crown. And with Energumenee injured, there appears nothing capable of preventing last years Arkle winner El Fabiolo from taking the Champion Chase

The current best odds available (from Bet365) are 4.1/1 on Constitution Hill, Galopin Des Champs, and El Fabiolo all succeeding and, to be honest, those odds appear a fair shout to me; you would likely snap the bookies hand-off to get 4/1 come the morning of Tuesday 12th March.

If you want to find longer odds for an antepost wager, then you are going to have to seek wagers amongst the other races on offer. The Championship race that looks wide open is the Stayers' Hurdle over 3-miles. 

The current fav is Teahupoo at 4/1; but he couldn't win last year (ran 3rd) and he shows his best form invariably when going right-handed on very soft or heavy ground - and he will get neither of those at Cheltenham in March!  
The 2nd-fav is the French-trained Theleme (available at 9/2); who has never run outside of France and (other than his debut flat race at Pau) has only ever raced at Auteuil - a figure-of-8 track which usually has heavy ground. Based on his win there in May-23 with Klassical Dream in 3rd and Hewick in 4th, it certainly seems that he has the ability to win the Stayers Hurdle - if it was run at Auteuil. However, I think for him to come to Cheltenham and win on the first-time of asking outside of his usual comfort zone will prove difficult, especially as I don't think he will hold enough of a distinct ability advantage. I'd rate him at OR158-160.
Irish Point is a new kid on the block: and he looked a good winner of the 3-mile Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on 28Dec. Personally, I don't think that he's shown he's good enough just yet and, at his current best odds of 6/1, he doesn't look value. 
That can't be said of Impaire Et Passe who won the Ballymore over 2m5f last March in impressive fashion, and would certainly be my idea of the winner if he lines-up for this race. I just feel he's more likely to run in the Champion Hurdle if he runs at the Festival, as his ultimate target is the 2m4f Aintree Hurdle.  I will hold-off punting on him just yet until his plans are known, but I would not put anyone off taking the 10/1 offered by Bet365 and Betfred. 
Crambo, who won the recent "Long Walk" Hurdle at Ascot, doesn't look good enough to me. Sure, he went head-to-head and beat Paisley Park at Ascot, but that horse is nothing near the horse that won this race in 2019 beating Thistlecrack.  Crambo is only a 7yo and is still improving, but remember he was well behind Irish Point (also a 7yo) at Aintree last April, and I'd say based on that race that Irish Point still holds the upper hand. As above, I don't think Irish Point is good enough, so (by default) neither is Crambo.
Sir Gerhard appears to have his best days behind him, and he didn't win a particularly strong race at Punchestown on 31Dec which, based on the comments post-race from trainer Mullins, has thrust him into contention. Sir Gerhard has not looked 'comfortable' at trips around 3-miles, and in my opinion that trip is beyond his stamina limits.
I will be very surprised is any of the old-hands of Sire Du Berlais, Paisley Park, or even Flooring Porter can win this race come March. I'm sure that they will be on the premises, but age catches-up eventually.
For me, the value in the betting is BOB OLINGER: after a period in the doldrums trying his hand, and failing, at chasing; he bounced-back with a good win on New Years Day at Cheltenham over and extended 2m4f.  I will be honest and advise that I took odds of 33's (just a couple of quid) before he won the NYD race.  He's another "Ballymore" winner, and while he's probably not as good as Impaire Et Passe, this race likely represents his best chance of Cheltenham glory given the weakness of this race and the likelihood that his main rivals could well give this race a miss. He's only raced at 3-miles once as a hurdler, but he was out-of-form at that time, so I'm ignoring that run. It's possible that he will go for the Champion Hurdle, but why run 4th in that race when there's a potential winning chance if running in this?

Antepost Selection:
Stayers Hurdle: BOB OLINGER 
£5 eachway @ 14/1 with Hills (NRNB: 5th odds a place 1,2,3)

Stayers Hurdle: BOB OLINGER 
£2 WIN @ 25/1 with Paddy Power

Total Staked = £12.00
The intention is to add to this selection over the next few weeks, and combine with another 1 or 2 into doubles and trebles.

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