With England over in New Zealand it is almost time for our boys to come back to UK soil for the domestic season. As the snow gives way to the first sign of Summer we can begin to look forward to a summer of cricket. But before that happens, our betting partners SportNation.bet are kicking off the start of the horse racing jumps season with Cheltenham festival on Tuesday next week.
We had hoped Elysium Dream (Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Eoin Morgan’s syndicate horse) may have made an appearance but his turn out at Ascot last year, coming 5 out of 15 was not quite strong enough to get a call up.
SportNation.bet are offering Barmy Army members some great sign up offers to go for and with a heavy dump of snow and the clerk of the course currently predicting a soft / good to soft ground there will likely be some outside horses in the 15 - 30/1 range coming in and may be worth a flutter.
SportNation.bet are offering a lovely little bet. Put £25 on any race with odds of 1.6 or more and get 28 free bets of £2.50. Click on the link here and put your offer code of SNCHELTBARMY to get involved.
We have had a look over the course of the week and picked out a couple to watch in the major class one races.
The Champion hurdle is the first grade one (premium class race) of the week. The Champion Hurdle is open to horses aged four years or older. It is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham over a distance of about 2 miles and ½ furlong (2 miles and 87 yards, or 3,298 metres), and during its running there are eight hurdles to be jumped. It is hard to look past Buveur D'Air at 10/19. Trying not to be smug I think he will cruise in behind the leaders, get pulled out between the second last and last and surge up that famous Cheltenham hill for his second Champion Hurdle win. He is a brilliant hurdler and so fast at his obstacles. If the odds on favourite is not interesting then look at My Tent or Yours at 10 E/W is worth a go. He has finished second three times in recent history and can do so again.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
We move on to The Champion Chase which is the big race on Wednesday. It is for 5 year old horses and takes place over 2 miles. Altior, showed all his class in his warm up at Newbury easily beating Politilogue and is now 12 wins from 12 over obstacles but his odds show that at 2/3. The next in the betting is Douvan at 7/2, the wonder horse of 2015 and 16 but shockingly beaten in this race last year by Special Tiara and not seen since. Apparently he is working well and all racing fans would love to see a 100% Douvan v 100% Altior and sit back and watch a gem of a race. Sadly I don’t think it will happen and even if Douvan does turn up I think Altior is better and will win well.
The Stayers Hurdle is probably the most wide open of the prime Grade 1 race and as we write this you have Supasundae (will he stay) favourite, The New One, Bacardy's, Yanworth, L'ami surge, Finian's Oscar, all listed in the betting. It’s impossible to back anything with confidence but one horse coming into form that will run and will stay is Sam Spinner, and Ruby Walsh was very complimentary about his run at Ascot, and there will be worse 5 or 5-1 shots next week.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
The blue riband of the week and next grade 1 is the Gold Cup. What a race this is, a lung bursting test of both stamina and speed. Your horse needs to have enough tactical speed to make up ground when needed but it needs to get every inch of the 3 1/4 miles with that sapping hill extinguishing many a dream.
Might Bite at 3/1 is the current favourite although he does divides opinion. Some think he is better than anything else in the race. The profile of recent winners is mixed, with the likes of the brilliant Kauto Star, War of Attrition, Kicking King and Sizing John being 2 milers that were upped in distance and had enough class to win whereas Lord Windermere, Bob's Worth and Synchronised being basically 4 milers that stayed on past quicker horses that didn't get home.
This year we have Sizing John, Road to Respect and Our Duke representing the speedier horses with Might Bite, Native River and Edwulf representing the stayers. Might Bite looks like a solid bet and I think it may be worthing sticking with him, I think he'll improve again and run the legs off them, and hope that he doesn't want a pint of the black stuff again! If you want the fairytale story then you should have a few quid each way on Edwulf at 20/1. This horse was challenging for the lead when he stopped and collapsed in last year's 4 miler. At one point it didn’t look good but after rest and recuperation, he came back to win the irish Gold Cup and he will be staying on, but may not be good enough this year round.
At Barmy Army we love our sport year round, we have great partners who support us in all of our trips worldwide and allow us to do some of the things we do. If you have a go at Cheltenham we wish you the best of luck but remember to gamble safely, be aware and be responsible