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Be Wary of False Favourites in These Cheltenham Festival Races

December 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Recent Articles

Be Wary of False Favourites in These Cheltenham Festival Races


Cheltenham Racecourse” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

The Cheltenham Festival is as good as British jumps racing gets. Before you start thinking about piling into ante-post favourites for next year, however, consider this; only eight market leaders of 28 races staged at the 2018 edition won.

In other words, five SP favourites out of every seven got turned over. Eight winning market principals is about average for a Cheltenham Festival over the last decade, but that means the majority of races arguably have false favourites. We’re all about identifying those here; so, based on recent stats, these are some of the Festival events where you need to think about taking the first in the betting on.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Just one outright market leader has landed Cheltenham’s traditional curtain-raiser in the last 10 years. The trouble with the Supreme is the horses in it are novices after all.

Bookmakers tend to make a Willie Mullins trained runner favourite and he’s responsible for the ante-post market leader in Annamix – a best-price 11/1 with bet365. Owner Rich Ricci loves to talk up his horses, but at this stage, Annamix hasn’t even made his debut for the Irish champion trainer yet as he suffered a setback last season.

chelt 2

Willie Mullins (far left) and Rich Ricci (far right) have had Cheltenham successes before” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by robertwatters2

The French import was second on his sole career start back in 2016 when in the care of Guillaume Macaire, so despite new connections, it’s easy to make a case against this horse until he justifies some of the hype in the Emerald Isle. With the market currently 20/1 bar Annamix, there’s value to be had elsewhere on other sorts; if you want to find out more, check out the latest Cheltenham betting predictions and odds.

Champion Bumper

The Festival’s Champion Bumper has produced some superb horses down the years, including the likes of Florida Pearl, Cue Card and Champagne Fever. As with the Supreme though, it simply hasn’t been a race for favourites recently with only Moon Racer justifying his place at the head of the betting in 2015 during the last decade.

Mullins in particular and the Irish in general have farmed this National Hunt flat race. His Mt Leinster and the Gordon Elliott trained Malone Road to head the 2019 Champion Bumper betting at 16/1 apiece, yet it’s perfectly common to have some big outsiders land the spoils in this event.

Relegate, for example, was Mullins’ fourth string at a 25/1 SP in the 2018 renewal, yet under a superbly timed ride from the now retired Katie Walsh got up in the final 100 yards and stayed on well to lead home a one-two-three for the stable. Our best advice with the Champion Bumper is back all of your plays each-way.

National Hunt Chase

One of the strangest Cheltenham Festival stats you’ll see relates to the 4m stamina test that is the National Hunt Chase for novices over fences. No favourite has won the race since it was moved to the meeting’s opening day in 2014, yet prior to that when run on the Wednesday three consecutive market principals landed the odds.

As a punter, you are gambling on the potential for the horse you fancy to stay this marathon trip while still a novice. Stamina is everything, while the profile of a winner is very hard to pin down specifically, not least because the race is open to amateur riders only. For these reasons and despite training two of the last four National Hunt Chase heroes, Elliott’s Gigginstown House Stud owned Blow By Blow at a general 16/1 is probably a tentative suggestion for the favourite at best.

Jonathan Burgess

Jonathan Burgess is an official Betfair Accredited Trainer and racing columnist for various respected betting industry publications such as: Betting School, The Daily Punt and Betfair’s Education site. He also runs the Profitable – False Favourites Betting Tips Club Which cost just 24 pence a day. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter

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