THE 2022 Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching and we are starting to get a feel for how the markets for the meeting’s top races may shake out.
Some feel like unattractive punting propositions already – anyone want to take on odds-on favourite Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle?
That said, there is plenty of value to be found elsewhere and it’s time to start properly filling out those ante-post portfolios.
There will be hits and misses, with key meetings in the run up to the Festival and with almost inevitable injuries to contend with.
But all being well, we’ll make it to the start with a few healthy ante-post positions.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL ANTE-POST PORTFOLIO
The Nice Guy
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
16/1 with various firms
Ferny Hollow’s injury last week underlines the risks of ante-post punting and many, myself included, were left staring at a big hole in their portfolios.
Anyway the show must go on and this week I think I’ve found a horse at excellent value for the Albert Bartlett.
This is a race for which the market has yet to come together, with connections on many entrants still weighing up what festival race they’ll go for.
As such at least two or three of the leading players are possibles for the Ballymore and so I think 16/1 about The Nice Guy is an excellent play.
Granted it isn’t ideal to be going to Cheltenham on the back of a win in a maiden but I was really impressed with his performance at Naas on Sunday.
Over what looked an inadequate trip of 2m3f, he travelled strongly throughout and put clear distance between himself and the second after the last.
It was a powerful staying performance in conditions which were far from ideal – a point Willie Mullins was quick to point out afterwards.
What’s more, Mullins identified the Albert Bartlett as the horse’s Cheltenham target after the win.
That’s important because a commitment of sorts at this stage is valuable information for the ante-post punter and I’m happy to take 16/1 now under the pretence connections don’t change their mind.
Cheltenham Festival ante post tip: 25-1 Nicky Henderson hurdler is amazing value for Coral Cup
I think that price could be half on the day with the possibility that at least two of the top three in the market (Ginto, Journey With Me and Hollow Games) could be rerouted elsewhere.
You need a grinder in the Albert Bartlett, a horse who definitely has the ability to stay.
The Nice Guy won two bumpers over two miles in such style and the manner of his success on Sunday only underlined those credentials.
Winning this race on the back of a victory in novice or maiden company is not unheard of.
Kilbricken Storm did in 2018 and I think The Nice Guy is a far more exciting prospect than that.
Bets already advised
Ferny Hollow (Arkle) 11/10R edemption Day (Champion Bumper) 6/1 1pt double at 16/1 with Paddy Power
Call Me Lord (Coral Cup)
1pt e/w at 25/1
Allegorie De Vassy (Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle)
1pt win at 7-1 with Bet365
Shishkin (Queen Mother Champion Chase) 11/10
Honeysuckle (Champion Hurdle) 4/5
Galopin Des Champs (Festival Novices’ Chase) 7/4
1pt treble at combined odds of 8/1 with Paddy Power
Sir Gerhard (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
1pt win at 5/1 with Paddy Power
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