Cheltenham festivalCheltenham festival

2020 Cheltenham Festival betting developments. We run through the major market movers in the ante-post Cheltenham Festival betting, after a busy weekend of racing culminated with big Graded races at Wetherby and Down Royal on Saturday 2nd November.

Eye on Cheltenham – Lostintranslation cut for Gold Cup as Elliott’s Down Royal winners make waves in Festival markets

We run through the major market movers in the ante-post Cheltenham Festival betting, after a busy weekend of racing culminated with big Graded races at Wetherby and Down Royal on Saturday 2nd November.

As reappearances go, Colin Tizzard couldn’t have wished for much more from Lostintranslation, who’s road to the Cheltenham Gold Cup began at Carlisle on Sunday.

Robbie Power’s mount was the overwhelming favourite to triumph in the Colin Parker intermediate Chase and the odds-on favourite barely touched a twig throughout, cruising hometo win without ever breaking a sweat.

Last year’s Mildmay winner already sat second behind Kemboy in the Gold Cup markets, butafter that smooth success at Carlisle, Lostintranslation’s Cheltenham odds were slashed across the boards.  Unibet  were the most impressed, cutting Lostintranslation in from 10s to 6/1 second- favouritism, with most of the other high-street bookmakers listing Tizzard’s flag-bearer as an 8/1 shot.

There were further ripples in the Gold Cup betting at Down Royal on Saturday, as Road To Respect held off Clan Des Obeaux to retain his Ladbrokes Champion Chase crown. Bet365 decided to enter Noel Meade’s champion into the Gold Cup betting at 25/1, but the Ryanair – a race he finished third in last year – looks his most suitable Cheltenham objective once again, with Ladbrokes pulling Road To Respect into 10/1 to go two better in 2020.

Clan Des Obeaux, who is often beaten on his reappearance, lost nothing in defeat and remained a 20/1 shot in the betting for the 2020 Gold Cup. Delta Work, however, struggled a little on his first outing in open company over fences and slid back to 20/1 in the Gold Cup betting after an error-strewn fourth-place finish at Down Royal.

Delta Work’s underwhelming performance was the only negative during an excellent week for Gordon Elliott, who usually turns out many of his most promising talents during Down Royal’s November meeting. Elliott’s star performer this weekend was undoubtedly Envoi Allen, who produced a magnificent hurdling debut to win his maiden by a streak.

2020 Classic ante-post tips. With the flat season drawing to a close, we take a long-term look at the first four classics in 2020 and provides readers with our early tips in the 1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby.

2020 Classic ante-post tips – An early look at the betting for both Guineas, the Oaks and the Derby With the flat season drawing to a close, we take a long-term look at the first four Classics in 2020 and provide readers with our early tips for the 1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby.

The 2019 flat racing campaign comes to a close this weekend, as Newmarket stages their popular November Handicap Meeting. Several burgeoning stars have thrust their names into the spotlight over the last eight months and flat racing fans have been treated to some truly memorable races at all of the most high-profile meetings.

There’s plenty of time to reflect upon what’s unfolded during the 2019 season. Yet, with National Hunt racing set to take over the sport of horse racing, this seems the ideal opportunity to look ahead to the Classic showdowns we have to look forward to in 2020.

We’ve taken a look through the betting markets for the 2000 and 1000 Guineas, along with the Oaksand the Derby at Epsom, outlining the leading contenders while pointing out where the value could lie for ante-post punters.

2020 Classic Ante-Post Tips

2020 2000 Guineas Betting

There’s only one place to start when discussing the opening Classic of the 2020 campaign, Pinatubo. After a perfect, unbeaten season, Charlie Appleby’s colt ends 2019 with the highest juvenile rating any horse has been handed in 25 years, eclipsing the marks legends like Sea The Stars and Frankel reached at the end of their first year of racing.

If Pinatubo trains on like many are expecting he will, then I don’t see any reason why he won’t win the 2020 2000 Guineas. However, at 11/10, there’s very little value in backing Pinatubo ante-post and there are a couple of overlooked challengers I’d like to draw your attention to.

Arizona and Mogul may sit ahead of him in the betting, but the Aidan O’Brien horse I’d be keen to back early in the 2000 Guineas betting is WICHITA, who was last seen finishing a well-beaten third behind Pinatubo in the Dewhurst. Prior to that defeat, Wichita bolted up in the Tattersalls Stakes on the Rowley Mile and was clearly doing his best work during the final furlong in the Dewhurst. Stepping up to a mile will certainly suit this son of No Nay Never and he could give Pinatubo something to thing about.

As could THREAT, who’s been vastly overlooked in the ante-post betting, despite an extremely impressive juvenile campaign. Richard Hannon’s Gimcrack winner successful carried a penalty to victory in the Champagne Stakes, seeing out seven furlongs very nicely. A slow-start put Threat immediately on the back-foot when dropping back to six in the Middle Park Stakes, but Hannon’s charge finished off his race nicely. Threat looked a strong miler in the making last season and I don’t understand why his current odds are so long.

2020 2000 Guineas Tip One – WICHITA (20/1 BetVictor)

2020 2000 Guineas Tip Two – THREAT (33/1 Ladbrokes)

2020 1000 Guineas Tips

The colts division may be dominated by Pinatubo, but the betting for next year’s 1000 Guineasshows just how open the fillies division was in 2019. I agree with the bookmakers in the opinion that the best Guineas trial could turn out to be the Fillies’ Mile, so it’s no surprise to see Quadrilateral leading the way in the ante-post betting. Yet, I find myself drawn more to POWERFUL BREEZE than her Fillies’ Mile conqueror.

Powerful Breeze broke slowest that day, but worked her way nicely into the race, hitting the front a furlong from home. James Doyle switched Quadrilateral right coming out of the dip and the favourite responded well to her rider’s urgings, overhauling Powerful Breeze in the dying strides to claim a narrow victory.

While she may have eventually succumbed to defeat, Powerful Breeze built on her surprise victory in the May Hill Stakes and looks to have plenty of improvement left in her locker. Hugo Palmer is a shrewd trainer who will know exactly how to handle his stable star through the off-season and this daughter of Iffraaj could be the one to beat when she returns in the spring.

Of those sitting at longer prices, Raffle Prize catches the eye and could be a big player if she steps up to a mile. Alpine Star is of serious interest too, but my second wager would have to be on DAAHYEH, who progressed steadily throughout her two-year-old campaign and impressed with a runner-up finish at the Breeders’ Cup, despite going off as the short-priced favourite.

2020 1000 Guineas Tip One – POWERFUL BREEZE (10/1 William Hill)
2020 1000 Guineas Tip Two – DAAHYEH (20/1 Coral)

2020 Epsom Oaks Tips

2019 Oaks winner, Anapurna didn’t make her debut until December 2018, so there’s a chance we haven’t even seen the winners of either Epsom Classic winner as of yet. However, from the evidence we’ve managed to gather during 2019, there are several who could progress into genuine Oaks challengers next year.

It’s very rare to see a juvenile of Aidan O’Brien’s win first time out, but that’s exactly what FANCY BLUE managed at Naas in September. This daughter of top Japanese sire, Deep Impact then came up against the experienced A New Dawn in a Listed contest at the Curragh in October and managed to get the better of her rival with a withering late run from the rear. There’s certainly more progression to come from this unbeaten filly and her breeding suggests staying a mile-and-a-half should be no
bother.

Of the British contenders, BORN WITH PRIDE makes an interesting case for early selection. William Haggas pitched his filly in at the deep-end on debut, running in the Listed Montrose Fillies Stakes and this well-bred newcomer rose to the challenge magnificently, responding to pressure on bottomless ground to hold off Aidan O’Brien’s Peaceful from the front.

Out of the mare who produced Raheen House and by Born To Sea, sire to Haggas’ former flag-bearer and Classic winner, Sea Of Grace, there’s no doubting Born With Pride is bred to reach a very high-level as a middle-distance horse. She could be one to keep on-side when she returns at the start of
next year.

2020 Epsom Oaks Tips One – FANCY BLUE (25/1 William Hill)
2020 Epsom Oaks Tips Two – BORN WITH PRIDE (25/1 William Hill)

2020 Epsom Derby Tips

Pinatubo again features at the top of the betting for the second colt’s Classic of the season, but I’d be very surprised if he progressed onto trips further than a mile. Kameko upset the Aidan O’Brien applecart when winning the rescheduled Vertem Futurity Trophy at Newcastle earlier this month. There were, however, a couple of Ballydoyle horses behind the impressive winner that day who will likely be pointed at the Derby, most interesting of those being MOGUL.

O’Brien immediately started this son of Galileo out over a mile when he made his debut, losing outto Jim Bolger’s Geometrical. A routine maiden triumph followed, before Mogul lived up to an extremely short price with a bloodless triumph in the Grade Two Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown. Mogul should improve significantly when he steps up beyond a mile and could even lead the way in the betting when the 2020 Derby eventually rolls around.

Such has been the Ballydoyle dominance in the Derby in recent seasons, I wouldn’t put anyone off backing a couple of Aidan’s horses at longer ante-post prices, with Innisfree and Royal Dornoch seemingly overlooked. The other trainer to have experienced success in the Derby in recent seasons is John Gosden and his big hope in the 2020 edition of this famous race could be ENEMY.

Enemy made a fairly inauspicious start as he locked horns with an odds-on Godolphin colt at Ascot, but Oisin Murphy’s mount warmed to his task nicely, eventually picking off the market leader on the run to the line. Although he’s by former top sprinter Muhaarar, his damn Prudenzia has produced many top middle-distance horses, including Irish Oaks winner Chicquita, so I’d be surprised if Enemy didn’t shape up into a Derby contender when the flat runners remerge in 2020.

2020 Epsom Derby Tips One – MOGUL (14/1 Ladbrokes)
2020 Epsom Derby Tips Two – ENEMY (33/1 Coral)

2019 BetVictor Gold Cup tips. Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for this lucrative handicap chase at Cheltenham's November Meeting and picks out two horses to back on Saturday 16th November.

2019 BetVictor Gold Cup ante-post tips – Two each-way tips in big handicap at Cheltenham’s November Meeting Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for this lucrative handicap chase at Cheltenham’s November Meeting and picks out two horses worth siding with.

Cheltenham’s November Meeting always draws huge numbers of National Hunt fans to Prestbury Park and the feature race on day two is the BetVictor Gold Cup, a two-and-a-half mile handicap chase won by greats like Gay Trip and Exotic Dancer down the years.

I enjoyed a particularly profitable renewal of the BetVictor Gold Cup 12 months ago, tipping emphatic winner, Baron Alco at 10/1 ante-post, while also pocketing some valuable place money with my second selection Guitar Pete, who ran a cracker to finish third. The weights for this year’s edition of this fantastic handicap were released earlier this week and I was eager to take a look through the betting to find my two ante-post selections. 2019 BetVictor Gold Cup Tips

Cheltenham Betvictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2M4F

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Following the expected withdrawal of Aso, Janika and Black Corton, Saint Calvados has been left carrying top-weight into battle on Saturday. This leaves current hot-pot Slate House with just 11-00 on his back and Colin Tizzards will fancy his charges chances. Slate House started his second season over fences with a superb victory in a novice contest at Cheltenham, surging clear of his rivals rounding the bend before securing a lengthy victory without ever coming off the bridle. A clear love for the course makes Slate House a very dangerous prospect. However, Tizzard’s seven-year-old has never experienced the rough-and-tumble of a handicap of this ilk and I’d rather side with a runner with more handicap experience. Siruh Du Lac is a horse I'm fond of, having tipped him successfully on Cheltenham Trials Day and again in the Brown Advisory Plate at the Festival. I’ll be taking a watching brief as he makes his reappearance off a career-high mark, but I wouldn’t put anyone off backing Nick Williams’ chaser. Spiritofthegames is another chaser I like, having enjoyed a consistent novice campaign and Dan Skelton will have high-hopes for his seven-year-old when he returns to Prestbury Park.

Despite being lumbered with top-weight, Saint Calvados is greatly respected and could be a big danger if he takes to this extended trip. Us And Them was campaigned at a very high level during his novice chasing campaign. Joseph O’Brien was keen to step his charge up beyond two miles heading into the new season, and Us And Them ran a lovely race on his reappearance, where only a final flight error cost him the chance to really challenge Snow Falcon in the Grade Two PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park. All four of the horses sitting immediately behind State House warrant great respect, but this history of this race is against them slightly, as only three of the last 12 BetVictor Gold Cup winners have carried 11-00 or more to victory.

Count Meribel

Count Meribel

Baring that in mind, I was delighted to see COUNT MERIBEL (14/1 BetVictor) remain in the running. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ chaser ran a screamer behind Lostintranslation up at Carlisle on his reappearance. and he could be a huge danger to the market leaders with just 10-13 on his back.

Count Meribel was victorious at the November Meeting last year, staying on gamely to deny Le Breuil and Mr Whipped in a thrilling renewal of the Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase. A poor outing then followed in the Noel Novices’ Chase at Ascot, before Count Meribel rounded off his first campaign over fences with a highly respectable seventh-place finish in the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival.

Lostintranslation was always in command up at Carlisle and the Gold Cup contender didn’t need to hit top gear to get the job done. That doesn’t take anything away from Count Meribel’s efforts, as Twiston-Davies’ seven-year-old passed the post a three-length runner-up, some nine lengths clear of the classy Kildisart.

Mark Grant’s favourite mount has previous on the Old course here at Cheltenham and his trainer has won this handicap on four previous occasions. Count Meribel comes into the race on the back of an excellent run, likes softer ground and looks extremely well handicapped.

With 18 runner likely to be left in the running, there’s plenty of scope for a second each-way punt in Saturday’s renewal and there are a couple of names even further down the market who really catch the eye. I’m half tempted to go in again on Guitar Pete, who’s career-best effort to win a Listed race on his reappearance leaves him carrying six-pounds more on his back than last year. Eamon An Cnoic may have struggled at Aintree and Punchestown in the spring, but
Martin Pipe’s charge boasts some solid form here at Cheltenham and often does his best work when fresh. Sitting just behind Guitar Pete in the current market is HAPPY DIVA (16/1 BetVictor) , who followed Nicky Richards' charge home up at Wetherby. Like her rival, Happy Diva has shown a real liking for Cheltenham in the past and Richard Patrick’s claimer will see Kerry Lee’s consistent mare carrying just 10-7 into battle on Saturday.

Happy Diva has been brilliantly consistent over the past 18 months. Discounting a failure to finish at Newbury in March, where an uncharacteristic error saw Patrick flung frim the saddle, Lee’s mare has clocked an RPR in the 140s in nine of her last eleven appearances. Happy Diva was travelling beautifully in this race last year coming down the the fourth last, but was unluckily brought down as Willie Boy departed the scene. Lee’s flag-bearer bounced back from that misfortune with a solid second behind Aso in another Grade Three Handicap here at Cheltenham and Happy Diva went on to beaten future Grand National runner-up, Magic Of Light in a Listed Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon two starts later. Happy Diva often comes on from her first start of a new season and goes well on all types of ground. Course form is always important here at Cheltenham and Richard Patrick’s mount boasts that in spades. She looks a solid second selection at 16/1.

2020 Cheltenham Festival ante-post tips. We take a look through the “win any race at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival” special markets and highlight our top five ante-post punts for the Cheltenham Festival which starts on Tuesday 10th March.

2020 Cheltenham Festival ante-post tips – Top five bets in the “win any race” special market We take a look through the “win any race at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival” special markets and highlight our top five ante-post punts.

Personally, I love having an ante-post punt. Sure, you get your hands burnt on a regular basis, but you can find excellent value in the ante-post markets, if you’re willing to take the risk.

When it comes to the Cheltenham Festival, most punters chose to wait until the New Year, where many bookmakers attach Non-Runner No Bet stipulations to their Festival markets. If you don’t wish to wait that long and want the ideal bet with a safety net, then the “win any race” market is where you should look.

Several bookmakers are currently providing a special “win any race” market for the Cheltenham Festival, and the list of runners available to back in said market is pretty vast. We’ve taken a look through the list in full and identified our top five ante-post bets in the “win any race” at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

5.Laurina

Laurina was one of the most disappointing horses at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Willie Mullins’ mare carried an unbeaten record into the Champion Hurdle, but produced a surprisingly flat performance, failing to land a blow as Espoir D’Allen scooted to victory. It will take more than one poor performance, however, to halt Laurina’s rise to the top of the sport and there are plenty of options open to Mullins and his team during the upcoming campaign.

The plan seems to go chasing with this big, scopey mare and it would be a surprise if Laurina didn’t take to the larger obstacles. She currently sits prominently in both the betting for the Arkle and the JLT at Cheltenham. If things were to go wrong over fences, then Mullins has the option of the Mares’ Hurdle, a return to the Champion Hurdle, or even an ambitious tilt at the Stayers’ Hurdle. 5/1 about Laurina to win any of those races looks very good value to me!

4.Champagne Classic

Champagne Classic was unfairly branded “the worst horse” Gigginstown Stud owned after winning the 2017 Martin Pipe, and Gordon Elliott’s charge made Michael O’Leary eat his words by beating Penhill in a Grade One at Punchestown a few weeks later. Elliott’s charge then spent over 600 days on the sidelines, returning with two strong- placed efforts in Graded novice chases before suffering another set-back in the spring

Elliott’s eight-year-old began his second season as a novice chaser with a comfortable victory at Fairyhouse, before beating National Hunt Chase runner-up, Discorama to a Listed prize at Wexford two weeks later. That three-and-three-quarter mile Grade Two looks to be Champagne Classic’s first choice at Cheltenham, but he could be rerouted to the RSA, if the likes of Battleoverdoyen, Dallas Des Pictons and Samcro fail to prove themselves to be genuine stayers.

3.Champ

I was a little surprised when Nicky Henderson revealed Champ was to go novice chasing this season. Certainly, he has the size and scope to deal with fences. I just felt he had untapped ability as a top- draw staying hurdler and Henderson would fancy his charge’s chances if he ever were to come up against Paisley Park.

Champ will set out on the road towards the RSA Novices’ Chase at Newbury later today and should make a winning debut over fences. Henderson has spoken of his regret at not taking Champ to the Albert Bartlett last year, instead of the Ballymore, where he was beaten by City Island. Despite Henderson obviously favouring the three-miler this year, the JLT could turn out to be an option for Champ and it also wouldn’t be a shock if Henderson’s eight-year-old ended up in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
He’s certainly capable of winning any of the three.

2.Defi Du Seuil

Despite plenty of talk surrounding a late switch to the Arkle, Defi Du Seuil turned up in the JLT at Cheltenham and saw off Lostintranslation to scoop a second Grade One over fences. Philip Hobbs’ charge then looked a little tired at Punchestown, where he was beaten over two-miles by the hugely impressive Chacun Pour Soi, leaving many with the false impression that he doesn’t have the pace to triumph over the minimum trip.

The Ryanair looks the obvious target for Defi Du Seuil and he currently leads the betting for that Grade One on a top-price of 8/1. However, with Altior’s route back to Cheltenham looking a little foggy, thanks to his planned tilt at the King George, the two-mile division is looking decidedly open. Hobbs and owner, JP McManus could favour a tilt at the Queen Mother Champion Chase over the Ryanair, making Defi Du Seuill’s price in the “win any race” market look extremely appealing.

1.Envoi Allen

At this moment in time, Envoi Allen is the only horse I have backed to win at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. Gordon Elliott’s Champion Bumper winner looked a natural on his hurdling debut, winning comfortably without ever coming off the bridle. I would be surprised if Envoi Allen didn’t win a Grade One over hurdles before Christmas and he could even enter Cheltenham as the best-backed horse of the entire meeting.

Gordon Elliott has chosen to target the Ballymore with his top novice hurdler in recent seasons and that race would suit Envoi Allen perfectly. That being said, Elliott’s charge didn’t look short of speed when winning over two-miles on his reappearance and, with the fitness of stablemate Malone Road still up in the air, there is a chance Envoi Allen could end up in the Supreme. Whichever race he enters at the Festival, I won’t be keen to side against Envoi Allen and he’s certainly the best horse to
back in this special market.

2019 betfair chase2019 betfair chase

2019 Betfair Chase tips. Brian Healy takes an early look at the contenders for the jumps season’s first Grade One race of the season at Haydock, the Betfair Chase.

2019 Betfair Chase tips – An early look at the contenders for Haydock's Grade One feature Brian Healy takes an early look at the contenders for the jumps season’s first Grade One race of the season at Haydock, the Betfair Chase.

The first leg of the jumping Triple Crown goes to post later this month at Haydock as the latest renewal of the Grade One Betfair Chase takes centre stage on 23 November, and the early list of possible runners paints an mouth-watering picture packed with potential Cheltenham Gold Cup candidates.

Boasting a first prize north of £110,000, the extended 3m 1f contest could see as many as eleven top-class performers head to post, including hat-trick seeking Bristol De Mai who has won the last two renewals of this formidable contest which represents the first Grade One contest of the new UK Jumps season.

Other notable past winners include four-time winner Kauto Star, and triple-winner Cue Card as well as dual-champion Silviniaco Conti and former Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander so the race boasts a very rich pedigree and may well feature the next Gold Cup winner.

Brian Healy looks at the early field of entrants for the fantastic Grade One contest and gives his runner-by-runner thoughts and big race tip for the first stage of the jumping Triple Crown which carries a £1million bonus should any horse win this race and add the King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup to their CV this season.

2019 Betfair Chase – 3.00pm Haydock, Saturday 23 November

Defending champion Bristol De Mai (7/4, Coral) will be of interest to many having won this race not only last year, but also the preceding year and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has a real affinity with the Merseyside track where he is unbeaten in four outings at this venue.

The bold-jumping grey saw his Triple Crown challenge evaporate in Kempton’s King George VI Chase when falling, but he bounced back with a very creditable third behind Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup, and the race possibly just came too soon at Aintree in the Betway Bowl where he finished fourth of six runners and beaten around ten lengths behind Kemboy.

With a good record fresh and proven versatility on a range of underfoot conditions, his record at Haydock makes him of real interest and he looks sure to make a bold bid in defence of his crown.

Bristol De Mai bids for a hattrick of wins in the Betfair Chase

Bristol De Mai bids for a hattrick of wins in the Betfair Chase

Ballyoptic (12/1, Paddy Power) saw off Elegant Escape to win the recent Charlie Hall Chase, and the Old Vic gelding has really got his act together over fences and gives Nigel Twiston- Davies a powerful second string in addition to defending champion Bristol De Mai.

The nine-year old hasn’t always convinced with his chasing technique, but he has taken some notable scalps when his jumping has held up including Elegant Escape and Vintage Clouds, and he was unlucky not to win the 2018 Scottish Grand National when denied by a nose by Joe Farrell where he was giving the winner a stone in weight.

Things didn’t go to plan last term, and he completed the course just one from four runs last term, when finishing sixth in the Welsh Grand National; but he is 2-2 this campaign, beating Lil Rockerfeller at Chepstow, and then taking Grade Two honours at Wetherby latest.

Versatile with regards to ground, it remains to be seen whether he’s quite good enough to mix it at Grade One level; but guaranteed to stay the trip, his chances would be enhanced by softer ground and if the conditions were to turn up testing then he has to be respected despite probably having to find more on balance to get competitive.

Perhaps the most interesting entrant for this race is reigning Champion Chase winner Altior (9/1, Bet365) who is unbeaten over obstacles but would be taking a massive step up in trip if Nicky Henderson elects to throw his superstar chaser into a potentially white-hot renewal of this contest.

The High Chaparral gelding has carried all before him over two miles in recent seasons where his unbeaten record was extended to 19 wins with success in the Celebration Chase at Sandown back in April.

However, while he has continued to beat everything put in front of him thus far, there has been a suggestion that he might benefit from stepping up in trip having taken a bit more stoking up from the saddle in his recent starts.

This would represent a big step up in distance given he has yet to race beyond 2m 2f – he’s only contested once at that distance – and he’s not obviously bred for an additional mile. However, he has often travelled really well in his races and with this likely to be run at a decent pace then his high cruising speed might help him, and if he sees out the longer trip then he is entitled to go close.

Could Altior be stepped up to three miles to contest the Betfair Chase?

Could Altior be stepped up to three miles to contest the Betfair Chase?

The Seven Barrows trainer could also be represented by Might Bite (14/1, Paddy Power) who was sent off favourite for this race twelve months ago, but the Scorpion gelding had a season to forget after only managing to finish fifth, and he subsequently finished well-beaten in the King George VI Chase before failing to complete the course in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

A hugely-progressive novice chaser, winning the 2017 RSA Chase and Mildmay Novices’ Chase, he continued his improvement into the following season where his sole defeat came behind Native River when outstayed in the Gold Cup; but he bounced back to beat Bristol De Mai to win the Betway Bowl.

Given his top-class form the season before last, he would be a danger to all the Seven Barrows maestro was somehow able to get the Scorpion gelding back to that level; but he would turn out here with a question to answer.

A third Seven Barrows inmate in Valtor (33/1, Ladbrokes) could also make the final line-up, but the Ut*nidor gelding would need to find significant improvement to make his mark at this level, and given he’s a ten-year old that would seem unlikely and he would likely find himself outclassed.

A decent sort in France, he arrived at Nicky Henderson late in his career, and he made the perfect start to live at his new yard when posting an easy success over Jammin Masters at Ascot in a Listed race.

However, he pulled up in the Cotswold Chase won by Frodon, and although he completed the Grand National course in April he crossed the line almost 80 lengths adrift of winner Tiger Roll.

He’s clearly a smart sort, and he won his fair share of races in France; but this looks too toughand if he were to take his chance then he’d likely struggle to get competitive.

Frodon (13/2, Paddy Power) went from strength to strength last term, racking up four wins from five starts which included a breakthrough Grade One success when winning the Ryanair Chase, and Paul Nicholls’ charge will strip fitter for his reappearance in the recent Old Roan Chase.

The Nickname gelding also proved stamina for three miles when holding on dourly to land last season’s Cotswold Chase, and he may appreciate a return to this longer trip in the wake of his reappearance over shorter.

Tough and consistent, and one who wears his heart on his sleeve, he has been a revelation since switching to more forceful front-running tactics although he’s not certain to get his own way up front this time around.

Given that the Old Roan Chase didn’t play to his strengths with the last half-mile being run as a flat race, he’s not one to discount on the back of that reappearance and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in there pitching once again.

Black Corton (20/1, Bet365) could also represent the Nicholls camp, and the Laverock gelding wasn’t quite able to match his excellent novice season last term, but he continued to run with plenty of credit despite needing six runs to open his account for the season when beating Gold Present in the Oaksey Chase.

The Ditcheat runner had finished runner-up in four of his five previous starts, which included in the Charlie Hall Chase and a trio of Listed contests; while he failed to complete the course in an attritional Ladbrokes Trophy Chase when pulled up.

Fit from a couple of spins on the flat and over fences during the summer, he ran respectably back from three months off the track when third of 16 runners behind Vinndication at Ascot recently, but surely he needs more to be competitive at the top table.

Colin Tizzard could also have two in the contest, with LOST IN TRANSLATION (9/4, Ladbrokes) potentially joined by Elegant Escape, and the former could continue his rise up the ladder having looked a hugely progressive sort last term.

The Flemensfirth gelding took a little time to get to grips with the larger obstacles last term, twice beaten behind La Bague Au Roi, although the latter occasion at Newbury might have been an altogether different result had he not taken the third-last fence by the roots.

He beat Defi De Seuil next time though in the Dipper Novices’ Chase, after which he found the same rival too good in starts at Sandown and Cheltenham respectively, the latter coming in the JLT Novices’ Chase.

The step up to three miles for the Mildmay Novices’ Chase produced another jolt of improvement to beat RSA Chase winner Topofthegame, and he made an impressive return to action to beat Count Meribel at Carlisle in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Chase, where aside from a late mistake he jumped for fun at the head of affairs, and he remains a hugely exciting chase prospect who could have even more to offer this campaign.

Stepping into an open Grade One will demand more from him, but he is capable of making his mark this term as a bona-fide Gold Cup contender.

Elegant Escape (20/1, Paddy Power) was smart as a novice during the 2017/18 season, and he carried on the good work last term, winning two of his first three starts which included the Welsh Grand National where he had Ballyoptic back in sixth.

Subsequently not disgraced behind Frodon in the Cotswold Chase, battling all the way to the line
but denied by three-parts of a length, that run may just have left a mark as he could only finish
sixth to Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup, and the run at Aintree behind Kemboy in the Betway
Bowl was disappointing as he pulled up.

His reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase was a solid run, conceding fitness to the winner when beaten around four lengths behind Ballyoptic, and likely to be sharper he could post a better effort although probably needs a shade more to feature but soft ground could make him of interest if taking his chances.

The jury remains out on whether 2018 Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos (20/1, Bet365) truly gets three miles, but Henry de Bromhead’s charge has plenty on his plate nonetheless despite failing to add to his tally following his Cheltenham success.

Fourth at Aintree behind Politologue in the Melling Chase on his next outing following his Cheltenham win, he was winless in five starts last campaign which included behind Min in the John Durkan Memorial Chase, and he could only finish seventh when defending his Ryanair crown.

He did run a better race back at Aintree when finishing ten lengths’third behind Kemboy in last season’s Aintree Bowl, but he went out quickly on his reappearance behind Jett in the Irish Daily Star Chase despite travelling much the best in the race.

He may be better over shorter than this trip, and his overall profile would make him opposable for win purposes although he’s sure to strip fitter for that Punchestown reappearance.

Tout Est Permis (25/1, Bet365) finished one place ahead of Balko Des Flos in that Punchestown contest, and the Linda’s Lad gelding could have more to offer over fences this term.

A switch to Noel Meade from Mouse Morris’ yard has coincided with a revival of fortunes, and he won his first three outings last term, which included beating Sub Lieutenant in a Grade two at Thurles, although he could only finish eighth in the Irish Grand National on his next outing three months on.

That longer trip possibly just stretched him, and he ran respectably back at this distance on his return where he was beaten seven lengths by Jett, keeping on. This would be a much tougher test however, and he would have plenty to find if lining up although he can give a good account if lining up without quite being good enough to win at this level.

VERDICT

Altior is a very interesting candidate, but the unbeaten chaser would have to prove stamina over a considerably longer trip than any he has contested thus far. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Altior go well if lining up, while Might Bite would be dangerous if coming back to the level of for he showed a couple of seasons ago. Frodon can’t be easily dismissed either back over a longer trip and with a run under his belt.

However, LOSTINTRANSLATION (9/4, Ladbrokes) looked one with a big future over fences last erm when faced with a longer trip, and having acquitted himself well over shorter trips last term, he produced a much improved performance to score at Aintree to end his season on a winning note when stepped up to three miles.

Colin Tizzard’s charge made an equally impressive return when facing a relatively straightforward task at Carlisle last time out, jumping well on the sharp end over shorter and readily coming clear of his rivals to post a facile win; and there’s likely plenty of further improvement to come from the Flemensfirth gelding who can enhance his growing reputation as a Gold Cup candidate with success in this race if taking his chance.

Hat-trick seeking defending champion Bristol De Mail boasts an unbeaten record here and has to be respected, while recent Charlie Hall Chase winner Ballyoptic won’t mind a slog if the conditions deteriorate and spearhead a strong challenge for Nigel Twiston-Davies,and both could run well.

Cheltenham 2020Cheltenham 2020

2020 Cheltenham Festival betting developments | A look at this weekend’s market movers in the Cheltenham Festival betting after big racing at Wincanton, Sandown and Navan on Sunday 10th November.
2020 Cheltenham Festival betting developments. We run through the major market movers in the ante-post Cheltenham Festival betting, after a busy weekend of racing culminated with major meetings at Wincanton, Sandown and in Ireland on Sunday 10th November.

Eye on Cheltenham – Apple’s Jade slides down all Festival markets after surprising flop at Navan

We run through the major market movers in the ante-post Cheltenham Festival betting, after a busy weekend of racing culminated with major meetings at Wincanton, Sandown and in Ireland on Sunday 10th November.

ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE

The two previous campaigns, Apple’s Jade has run roughshod through the competition at home in Ireland during the Autumn and Winter months, collecting five Grade One honours along the way. The Lismullen Hurdle was Apple’s Jade’s starting point in 2017 and 2018 and Gordon Elliott’s mare went into Sunday’s renewal as the 1/4 favourite to secure a hat-trick in that Grade Two.

Poor performances during Festival season hadn’t stopped Apple’s Jade trouncing her rivals in the Lismullen Hurdle in either of the two previous seasons. However, it seems those losing efforts at Cheltenham and Aintree back in the spring have taken their toll this time around.

Gordon Elliott’s favourite didn’t have the same sparkle she usually displays during the first half of the season. The favourite was picked off at the front of the field by Bacardys with two hurdles to jump and succumbed to defeat quickly, trailing over the line some nine-lengths behind the winner.

As a result, Apple’s Jade has slid down the betting for three prestigious Grade Ones at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.  Unibet  go 33/1 from 20s on Apple’s Jade in both the Champion Hurdleand the Stayers’ Hurdle, while also pushing Elliott’s mare out from 7s to 9/1 in the betting for the Mares’ Hurdle, which now seems he most likely Cheltenham objective.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Gordon Elliott’s over the weekend, however, as two of his top novices made winning starts to life over hurdles. Abacadabras won nicely over two miles at Navan on Sunday, leading to Ladbrokes cutting his price from 25s to 12/1 in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Andy Dufresne was even more impressive in the two-and-a-half mile maiden later in the afternoon, cursing to an effortless ten-length triumph. He too was cut into 10/1 for the Supreme by  Unibet . The three-mile Albert Bartlett looks his most suitable assignment though, and  Unibet  now list Andy Dufresne as the new 10/1 ante-post favourite for that Grade One on Gold Cup day.

Reserved Tank

Reserved Tank

Speaking of the Gold Cup, Nicky Henderson’s leading contender for this year’s main event at Cheltenham made his first outing of the new campaign at Sandown on Sunday. Santini was expected to brush aside three inferior rivals with ease in the three-mile Intermediate Chase, but the 2019 RSA runner-up made hard work of the task at hand, beating 144-rated Now McGinty by just a head.

Santini is sure to come on from that reappearance on heavy ground and Ladbrokes were impressed enough to cut Henderson’s charge in from 10s to 8/1 to triumph in the 2020 Gold Cup. Bet365, on the other hand, were less than convinced, pushing Santini out from 8s to 10/1. Two Cheltenham Festival hopefuls headlined the action at Wincanton on Saturday, but their performances also received mixed reviews from the major bookmakers. Reserve Tank secured a comfortable victory in the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase, before Fussil Raffles outfought Grand Sancy to secure a narrow triumph in the Elite Hurdle. Unibet cut Reserve Tank into 6/1 from 10s to win the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, while also handing Fussil Raffles a fresh price of 10/1 from 14s in the Champion Hurdle betting. Meanwhile, Betfair remained unmoved in the betting with both, listing Reserve Tank as a 10/1 shot in the JLT and Fussil Raffles as a 16/1 outsider in Tuesday’s Championship race.

Nicky Henderson was much more impressed with Champ’s performance at Newbury this week, as his Grade One winning hurdler jumped nicely on his way to a comfortable triumph over two-and-a-half miles. The RSA Novices’ Chase will be his end-of-season goal and Champ was pushed into solo-favouritism for that three-mile contest, with  Unibet  going as short as 4/1.

Two-time Festival runner-up, Melon made his first start over fences at Navan on Sunday, but Willie Mullins’ charge was upstaged by Fakir D’Oudairies, who hacked up on his chasing debut to defeat his older rival by three lengths. Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old was cut into 8/1 second-favouritism for the Arkle by Paddy Power, while also earning fresh quotes of 16/1 to win the JLT.

Cilaos Emery proved he was a force to be reckoned with in the two-mile chasing division with a convincing win this weekend, earning fresh quotes of 9/1 in the Champion Chase betting with bet365. The following afternoon, Ballyoisin upset market leaders Duc Des Genievres and A Plus Tard to win the Fortria Chase, forcing bet365 to push Duc Des Genievres out to 25/1 in the Champion Chase betting, with A Plus Tard drifting further out to a new price of 33/1.

Cheltenham festivalCheltenham festival

2020 Cheltenham Festival betting developments | A look at this weekend’s market movers in the Cheltenham Festival betting after big racing at Wincanton, Sandown and Navan on Sunday 10th November.

2020 Cheltenham Festival betting developments. We run through the major market movers in the ante-post Cheltenham Festival betting, after a busy weekend of racing culminated with major meetings at Wincanton, Sandown and in Ireland on Sunday 10th November. Eye on Cheltenham – Apple’s Jade slides down all Festival markets after surprising flop at Navan

We run through the major market movers in the ante-post Cheltenham Festival betting, after a busy weekend of racing culminated with major meetings at Wincanton, Sandown and in Ireland on Sunday 10th November.

2020 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

The two previous campaigns, Apple’s Jade has run roughshod through the competition at home in Ireland during the Autumn and Winter months, collecting five Grade One honours along the way. The Lismullen Hurdle was Apple’s Jade’s starting point in 2017 and 2018 and Gordon Elliott’s mare went into Sunday’s renewal as the 1/4 favourite to secure a hat-trick in that Grade Two.

Poor performances during Festival season hadn’t stopped Apple’s Jade trouncing her rivals in the Lismullen Hurdle in either of the two previous seasons. However, it seems those losing efforts at Cheltenham and Aintree back in the spring have taken their toll this time around.

Gordon Elliott’s favourite didn’t have the same sparkle she usually displays during the first half of the season. The favourite was picked off at the front of the field by Bacardys with two hurdles to jump and succumbed to defeat quickly, trailing over the line some nine-lengths behind the winner.

As a result, Apple’s Jade has slid down the betting for three prestigious Grade Ones at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.  Unibet  go 33/1 from 20s on Apple’s Jade in both the Champion Hurdleand the Stayers’ Hurdle, while also pushing Elliott’s mare out from 7s to 9/1 in the betting for the Mares’ Hurdle, which now seems he most likely Cheltenham objective.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Gordon Elliott’s over the weekend, however, as two of his top novices made winning starts to life over hurdles. Abacadabras won nicely over two miles at Navan on Sunday, leading to Ladbrokes cutting his price from 25s to 12/1 in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Andy Dufresne was even more impressive in the two-and-a-half mile maiden later in the afternoon, cursing to an effortless ten-length triumph. He too was cut into 10/1 for the Supreme by  Unibet . The three-mile Albert Bartlett looks his most suitable assignment though, and Unibet  now list Andy Dufresne as the new 10/1 ante-post favourite for that Grade One on Gold Cup day.

Reserve Tank

Reserve Tank

Speaking of the Gold Cup, Nicky Henderson’s leading contender for this year’s main event at Cheltenham made his first outing of the new campaign at Sandown on Sunday. Santini was expected to brush aside three inferior rivals with ease in the three-mile Intermediate Chase, but the 2019 RSA runner-up made hard work of the task at hand, beating 144-rated Now McGinty by just a head.

Santini is sure to come on from that reappearance on heavy ground and Ladbrokes were impressed enough to cut Henderson’s charge in from 10s to 8/1 to triumph in the 2020 Gold Cup. Bet365, on the other hand, were less than convinced, pushing Santini out from 8s to 10/1. Two Cheltenham Festival hopefuls headlined the action at Wincanton on Saturday, but their performances also received mixed reviews from the major bookmakers. Reserve Tank secured a comfortable victory in the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase, before Fussil Raffles outfought Grand Sancy to secure a narrow triumph in the Elite Hurdle. Unibet cut Reserve Tank into 6/1 from 10s to win the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, while also handing Fussil Raffles a fresh price of 10/1 from 14s in the Champion Hurdle betting.

Meanwhile, Betfair remained unmoved in the betting with both, listing Reserve Tank as a 10/1shot in the JLT and Fussil Raffles as a 16/1 outsider in Tuesday’s Championship race. Nicky Henderson was much more impressed with Champ’s performance at Newbury this week, as his Grade One winning hurdler jumped nicely on his way to a comfortable triumph over two- and-a-half miles. The RSA Novices’ Chase will be his end-of-season goal and Champ was pushed into solo-favouritism for that three-mile contest, with  Unibet  going as short as 4/1.

Two-time Festival runner-up, Melon made his first start over fences at Navan on Sunday, but Willie Mullins’ charge was upstaged by Fakir D’Oudairies, who hacked up on his chasing debut to defeat his older rival by three lengths. Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old was cut into 8/1 second- favouritism for the Arkle by Paddy Power, while also earning fresh quotes of 16/1 to win the JLT.

Cilaos Emery proved he was a force to be reckoned with in the two-mile chasing division with a convincing win this weekend, earning fresh quotes of 9/1 in the Champion Chase betting with bet365. The following afternoon, Ballyoisin upset market leaders Duc Des Genievres and A Plus Tard to win the Fortria Chase, forcing bet365 to push Duc Des Genievres out to 25/1 in the Champion Chase betting, with A Plus Tard drifting further out to a new price of 33/1.

Cheltenham FestivalCheltenham Festival

2020 Cheltenham Festival ante-post tips. Jon Vine looks ahead to the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and throws up this massive 428/1 ante-post four-fold for National Hunt racings premier meeting which starts on Tuesday 10th March. Cheltenham, Festival, ante-post, tips, four, fold 2020 Cheltenham Festival ante-post tips – Massive 428/1 four-fold for jumps racing’s premier event

Jon Vine looks ahead to the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and throws up this massive 428/1 ante-post four-fold for National Hunt racings premier meeting which starts on Tuesday 10th March.

I understand we’re a long way out from this season’s Festival and many punters don’t like betting ante-post on a sport as unpredictable as horse racing. However, when I checked the price of this four-fold, I was blown away by the odds.

The four horses featured are proven winners at the track and look nailed-on to appear in their respective races. If everything goes to plan between now and March, I could see all four carrying very short prices into their respective races, so to see this four-fold offering huge odds of 428/1 with  Unibet  is a chance I simply couldn’t pass up!

2020 cheltenham ante post acca

2020 cheltenham ante post acca

Sign up with Unibet today, place your first £10 bet and you’ll not only receive £40 in free bets, and you’ll also get a free £10 casino bet!

10/11/19 Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade One) 2m½f

For me, KLASSICAL DREAM’S victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle was one of the stand-out performances of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Ruby Walsh’s mount looked keen throughout, carrying his head low in fairly awkward fashion. As rivals stacked up behind the leader coming down the hill, Ruby asked his mount to go and go he certainly did. Klassical Dream pulled effortlessly away from some decent rivals and a superb leap at the last allowed Willie Mullins’ charge to saunter over the line virtually unopposed.

Klassical Dream backed up that showing at Punchestown, claiming the Herald Champion Novices’ Hurdle crown with the minimum of fuss. The way he progressed throughout the campaign bodes well for the future too and another unbeaten season could be on the cards for this talented young jumper.

10/11/19 National Hunt Chase Challenge Trophy (Grade Two) 3m6f

While both Klassical Dream and Envoi Allen offer plenty of value at their current prices, I think my best ante-post punt for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival could be CHAMPAGNE CLASSIC.

Unfairly branded “the worst horse Gigginstown own” after his triumph in the 2017 Martin Pipe, Champagne Classic made Michael O’Leary eat his words by defeating Penhill in the Grade One staying hurdle at Punchestown a few weeks later. Gordon Elliott’s charge then missed a whole year through injury, but shaped nicely on both his starts over fences last season, placing in two good-quality Graded races.

Champagne Classic was my ante-post selection in the 2019 running of the National Hunt Chase, only for injury to intervene again and rule Elliott’s eight-year-old out of the meeting again. The former Festival winner has been out twice already this season – a fact which points towards a trouble-free off season – winning novice contest at Fairyhouse before an effortless triumph over Discorama in a Listed race at Wexford.

Such has been the quality of his performances during the autumn, I don’t think Champagne Classic would look out of place if he ran in the RSA at Cheltenham. However, Elliott has already identified the National Hunt Chase as his Festival objective and Jamie Codd will more-than-likely take the ride. If he stays fit – and that has proven a very big if over the last two years – then Champagne Classic will be very hard to beat in this three-and-three-quarter mile contest.

11/11/19 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade One) 2m5f

ENVOI ALLEN couldn’t have been any more impressive on his jumping debut earlier this month. Gordon Elliott’s Champion Bumper winner looked a natural on his hurdling debut, winning comfortably without ever coming off the bridle. I would be surprised if Envoi Allen didn’t win a Grade One over hurdles before Christmas and he could even enter Cheltenham as the best-backed horse of the entire meeting.

Elliott’s charge didn’t look short of speed when winning over two-miles on his reappearance and, with the fitness of stablemate Malone Road still up in the air, there is a chance Envoi Allen could end up in the Supreme. That being said, Gordon Elliott has chosen to target the Ballymore with his top novice hurdler in recent seasons and that race would suit Envoi Allen perfectly.

11/11/19 Glenfarclas Chase (A Cross Country Chase) (Class 2) 3m6f

A fairly obvious selection you might say, but by the time Cheltenham rolls around, you won’t finda price better than evens on TIGER ROLL making it three in a row in the Cross Country, so the time to back Gordon Elliott’s stable star is right now.

Elliott has already outlined Tiger Rolls route back to the Grand National, where he will bid to become the first horse in history to win that famous handicap three times in a row. A return to the Boyne Hurdle Tiger Roll won last season is first on the agenda, before Keith Donoghue’s mount bids to land a hat-trick of Cross Country victories, having retained his crown with a stunning 22- length triumph in 2019.

I could see this four-fold returning around 30/1 or 40/1 if all four make it to the Festival as planned, so the price currently on offer with  Unibet  offers fantastic value for money!

Klassical DreamKlassical Dream

2019 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle tips. Our expert takes a look through the betting for Saturday’sfeature Grade One at Punchestown and provides readers with his tips on Saturday 16th November.Unibet, Morgiana, Hurdle, tips, Punchestown 2019 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle tips – Who will triumph in battle between Mullins’ Champion Hurdlecontenders?

Our expert takes a look through the betting for Saturday’s feature Grade One at
Punchestown and provides readers with his tips.

During it’s 30-year history, Ireland’s premier trainers have often used the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle as a starting point for their Champion Hurdle hopefuls. Greats like Moscow Flyer, Brave Inca and Hurricane Fly – a three time winner of the Morgiana – kicked off their campaigns with victory here, before going onto secure prestigious prizes at Cheltenham or Punchestown later in the season.

Only five horses have been entered into Saturday’s renewal of the Morgiana, and I don’t think either Petite Mouchoir (20/1  Unibet ) or 100/1 outsider, Yaha Fizz (100/1  Unibet ) have any chance at all. At the head of the betting we find a trio of Willie Mullins’ finest hurdlers and all three will likely take their chance in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham come March. Leading the way in the market is Klassical Dream (8/15  Unibet ), the outstanding novice hurdler in 2019/20. A month after arriving at Willie Mullins’ yard from France, Klassical Dream hacked up in a maiden at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival. Mullins then threw his recruit into Grade One company on just his second start for the yard, and Klassical Dream proved he was a force to be reckoned with by holding Aramon at bay and claim the Chanelle Pharma Novices’ Hurdle. With his head swung low in an awkward manner, Klassical Dream dragged Ruby Walsh to the front a long way from home in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and I was expecting those signs of inexperience to come back and haunt Mullins’ star in the closing stages. That, however, was not the case, as Klassical Dream powered up Cleeve Hill to secure victory in imperious fashion.

Klassical Dream

A third Grade One victory followed at Punchestown a few weeks later, where Klassical Dream cruised to victory in the Herald Champion Novices’ Hurdle. His unbeaten record will be on the line this weekend, but the bookmakers clearly feel Klassical Dream will be good enough to get the win and I’m loathed to side against him.
Sharjah (3/1  Unibet ) was expected to play second-fiddle to Faugheen in this race 12 months ago, but went on to upstage his stablemate and secure the first Grade One of his career. The former Galway Hurdle winner then repeated that feat at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, where Sharjah put a field containing Samcro and Supasundae to the sword with an excellentdisplay in the Ryanair Hurdle.

Patrick Mullins then took the ride in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, but their race came to an unfortunate end, as Sharjah was brought down by the falling Buveur D’Air. Sharjah excelled on quick ground last winter, but he boasts plenty of winning form on bottomless going too and a two-time Grade One winner can never be discounted.

Saldier (8/1  Unibet ) also has a Grade One victory to his name, that win coming at the season-ending spectacle here at Punchestown in 2018. Having finished fifth and third in the big juvenile Grade Ones at Cheltenham and Fairyhouse, few gave Saldier much of a chance that day, but Mullins’ charge produced an excellent performance under an inspired Robbie Power to secure a three-length triumph in the AES Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle.

Sharjah

On his only start last season, Saldier looked to have future Champion Hurdle winner, Espoir D’Allen covered in the Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas, only to come a cropper at the final flight. Mullins decided to give his charge a year to recover from that heavy fall and Saldier could be the forgotten horse to fear in all of the big graded hurdles this term. He does, however, have a little catching up to do before he can rub shoulders with the two ahead of him in the betting.

Out of the three, there’s no doubting that Klassical Dream is the best long-term, and possibly short-term, prospect. I’ve already backed last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner to win the Champion Hurdle and I see no reason why Mullins’ charge won’t continue his unbeaten streak in Saturday’s Morgiana Hurdle.

However, from a betting stand-point, there’s no value to be found backing Klassical Dream this weekend and maybe the best time to catch him cold is on his first start of the season. SHARJAH, on the other hand, has previous in this race, goes well fresh and won’t be afraid to get one over on his stablemate. Sharjah opened his account for Willie Mullins with two smart victories on heavy ground during his novice campaign and his runaway triumph in the Galway Hurdle came on genuinely soft ground. Heavy going won’t be a cause for concern for Rich Ricci and his team and Sharjah has tons of good form from last season to bolster his chances.
I would love to see Klassical Dream get the win on Saturday, but punting is about finding value and the only bet worth taking in this year’s Unibet Morgiana Hurdle is to side with Sharjah to score another upset.