The buzz around the Cheltenham Festival (10th -13th March) seems to get earlier each year. Part of that is understandable, as the bookies attempt to outdo each other with promotions and marketing campaigns, but there is nevertheless a bit of head-scratching when trying to work out betting value months in advance.
Still, with most of the trials and minor festivals wrapped up, the ante-post betting markets are starting to look something akin to how they will on race day, while still leaving enough uncertainty for punters to capitalise on some betting value.
Below we will take a look at each of the four ‘feature’ races of the festival, looking at where the money is going and if there is any standout value.
Champion Hurdle – 10th March
Sure to be one of the most competitive races at the festival, and the markets are still cluttered at the top end with seven horses listed at 10/1 or under in the Cheltenham Festival 2020 betting with 888sport. However, punters are still buoyed by the memory of Epatante’s stunning performance in the Christmas Hurdle and the price of 3/1 looks a fair one for Nicky Henderson’s charge. Honeysuckle (7/2) will also take a bit of money between now and the start of the festival.
Queen Mother Champion Chase – 11th March
The most intriguing jumps race we will see in 2020, and it’s all down to one horse – Altior. The record-breaking chaser heads into this one in the unfamiliar position of not being the favourite. At the moment, he’s in at 11/4, with Defi Du Seuil the 7/4 favourite. That could change as Altior is scheduled for a run at Newbury in mid-February. If he performs well there, his odds will tighten again. If not, we will leave something of a conundrum for punters. One should not rule out Chacun Pour Soi (11/4) either, though.
Stayers’ Hurdle – 12th March
There has been a sole favourite for this race ever since he won last year’s event – Paisley Park. If anything, Paisley Park has reaffirmed his credentials over the last few months. A price of 8/11 is cited for the 8yo to repeat last year’ success. He looks untouchable at the moment, but one would expect the odds-on price only to be snapped up by the most serious punters. Something massive would be needed from the likes of Summerville Boy or Champ to challenge Paisley Park. Moreover, his form is so good that you’d expect many trainers to use their best prospects elsewhere.
Cheltenham Gold Cup – 13th March
Like the Champion Hurdle, the Gold Cup is littered with intriguing runners at the top end of the market. Last year’s winner Al Boum Photo is the current favourite at 4/1, but anyone from Santini (9/2), Delta Work (5/1), Lostintranslation (6/1), Clan Des Obeaux (7/1) and Kemboy (8/1) would be an unsurprising winner. Indeed, value-hunting punters would do well to look at the likes of Bristol De Mai (33/1) as an each-way bet, because this looks too close to call right now. One could make a case for almost a dozen horses, so it’s perhaps worth taking a risk at a bigger prize.