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2011 Cheltenham Festival Day One Ante Post Preview


It was a chaotic few hours for ante post markets on Saturday as the fall-out from Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham rippled throughout various bookmakers. More than a few markets have been reshuffled and punters can now begin looking ahead to the de facto world championships of steeple chasing in a mere six weeks time.

The opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is always a solid day for volume and the ante post markets are certainly worth an examination at this early stage.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card stands atop this market like a colossus and his two victories at Cheltenham should give punters plenty of confidence on the day. Menorah made a major statement by scoring here in 2010 and simultaneously sent ante post punters into fits of rage as Dunguib was a well-beaten third despite being sent off at odds-on. A quick perusal of comments left on Dunguib’s youtube videos tells one all they need to know about backing short-priced favourites in the Supreme Novices. With Cue Card hovering around 2/1, one has to wonder how much action he’s going to see and whether punters learned their lessons last time or not. Zaidpour is a firm second favourite at 8/1 while Rock On Ruby has been shortened to 8/1 as well with at least one bookmaker, but can still be backed as high as 12/1.

Arkle Chase

It’s tough to talk Supreme Novices without mentioning the Arkle next, and we’ve got a genuinely tight two-horse race for the favourites position here as Ghizao and Finians Rainbow both trade around the 4/1-5/1 corridor. The Nicky Henderson charge is still yet to score at graded level and was a beaten fifth in his sole kick at the Cheltenham can, a Grade 1 loss (which was way too much too quick) to Peddlers Cross. German-bred Ghizao boasts a Grade 2 Cheltenham score in a novice chase and has run 211 in his three efforts this season. Captain Chris has finished second to Ghizao on two consecutive occasions and he’s in the mix here at 20/1.

Champion Hurdle

Binocular and Hurricane Fly face off against Menorah and Peddlers Cross in what is definitely set to be the marquee match-up on day one of the Cheltenham Festival. Hurricane Fly has won four straight (all ahead of Solwhit) and he’ll be set for his first festival appearance in 2011. Expect him to be well-backed and entering with lots of momentum off his emphatic score at Leopardstown. Punters will find him as low as 4/1 Binocular took the Christmas hurdle in mid-January but was beaten by Peddlers Cross at Newbury in the Fighting Fifth. Binocular was notably beaten in this race in 2009 by Punjabi before roaring back to conquer it again last year against the likes of Solwhit, Celestial Halo, Punjabi and Khyber Kim- a literal who’s who of the 2m hurdle division. He trades in the neighborhood of 4/1. One could only imagine the tidal wave of frustration if Dunguib wound up winning this one at his 20/1 price. Peddlers and Menorah both float around 11/2.  

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