RACING fan Tommy Buckley (@tbuckleythinks) has shares his thoughts on ante-post Lucky 15 he'll be placing ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
Cheltenham Festival | Lucky 15 | 12th-15th March 2019
Over the years, ante-post betting on the Cheltenham Festival has been both my friend and my nemesis. It's had me jumping for joy after landing a Lucky 31 but also had me literally dumbstruck with disappointment.
I used to start having ante-post bets for Cheltenham literally as soon as one Festival had finished but my approach these days is to hold fire with any main bets until the weekend before. It's just too risky given the confusion over multiple entries, injuries etc.
My modern day plan now begins a few weeks before the Festival, a softly softly, basically risk-free approach by using only the free bets I gain via my weekly betting and rewards schemes with leading bookmakers.
This is the first in a little series of ante-post multiples I'll be covering, hoping that come by the time the Festival has finished we'll have something decent to celebrate.
Elixir De Nutz in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
My first experience of the Cheltenham Festival was watching the awesome Vautour win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and ever since, that race has meant more to me. Of course, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the contest that launches the Festival and it's a great thrill watching the very best novice hurdlers around doing battle.
This year’s contest looks set to be an absolute cracker. As things stand, it looks that competitive and open that you could back six and still possibly miss the winner but my first vote is going to the Colin Tizzard-trained Elixir De Nutz.
I will confess that my good & trusted twitter friend @MatthewRodenby is the person who put Elixir De Nutz on my radar months ago, so I'll be thanking him for sure if this one gets us on the board with a winner.
I've read potential doubts about Elixir De Nutz in terms of perhaps not being quite good enough and needing softer ground. Perhaps soft ground is perfect for him, but his form line in winning the Tolworth Hurdle is rock solid given what Grand Sancy and Southfield Stone have produced since.
Tizzard's five-year-old is tough – he's got proven course form and experience, both on the old and new course, and he's the type who'll love the battle and give everything. Overall around 10/1 looks fair each way-value, in my opinion.
Lalor in the Arkle Chase
I've already declared that I no longer bet ante-post until a few weeks before, but I've got to admit, I am slightly kicking myself for not backing Lalor when I decided he would be my Arkle bet back in November.
Lalor was available at 7/1 after his very, very impressive win at Cheltenham, when the likes of Dynamite Dollars, Defi Du Seuil and Claimantakinforgan were put firmly in their place by his brilliant, fluent front running and jumping.
In my own opinion, that's the most impressive novice chase performance I've seen this jump season and when you go back to his Aintree hurdles form last year, he beat the likes of Bedrock, Vision Des Flos and Globan Citizen – all big winners this year.
I know Lalor flopped at Sandown but plenty do and that was bad ground that day. I'll forgive him that and I think he's the one to beat in the Arkle and I'll take 7/2 – if he goes bigger, I'll back him again. Time will tell if I'm right…
Champ in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
If you name a horse after the incredible Tony McCoy then there has to be the confidence, and believe that horse is the real deal. That certainly is what Champ looks to be, he'll undoubtedly be one of the most popular picks at Cheltenham this year.
Champ has been very well regarded for quite a while now; very easy wins in weak races at Perth and Warwick early in 2018, this season Champ has justified being named after McCoy and his win in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury marks him down as the one to beat.
He travels well, is a good hurdler, and looks to have way more to give, and Nicky Henderson looks to have another star to aim big with.
Kemboy in the Gold Cup
For me, this year’s Festival has the look of being potentially wide open and I believe the Gold Cup looks as competitive as it has done for a while.
Presenting Percy, Native River, Clan Des Obeaux and the rest are all respected but I don't believe there is one absolute standout candidate and all have questions to answer. That's why I believe the Willie Mullins-trained Kemboy has as good a chance as any.
Kemboy was a really impressive winner of Grade 1 chase over three miles at Christmas, beating the likes of Monalee, Belshill and Road To Respect in decisive fashion. For me, that form line is as good as any on offer.
Willie Mullins states Kemboy is versatile in terms of ground, he's been kept fresh since Christmas to give him every chance in the Gold Cup, and around 8/1 he looks a fair each-way price.
Cheltenham Festival each-way Lucky 15:
Supreme Novices' Hurdle – Elixir De Nutz
Arkle Chase – Lalor
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle – Champ
Gold Cup – Kemboy