We’re just nine days out from the start of Cheltenham and with us going non runner no bet ALL races at the Cotswolds – the pressure’s starting to ramp up.
The preview nights are in full swing – our own is on Wednesday night – and as trainers’ plans become clearer punters are very close now to settling on their selections.
But there’s always a few shrewdies ahead of the curve and they’re taken fancy prices about some short-price favs – before they were household names.
Not much was known about Douvan on the morning of his Gowran Park debut. That didn’t stop one shop customer putting down €500 of his hard-earned at 16/1 for the festival opener – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He’s had a contented winter as the price has now tumbled to 7/4 on the Irish challenger.
The highlight of this National Hunt season has been watching Un De Sceaux pummel his rivals into submission – after his initial fall at Thurles.
He’ll carry the Irish banker tag for a lot of punters on Tuesday – though there may be three more from Willie Mullins’ to go with him – but the guy who had €1000 at 5/1 on him to win the Arkle Chase two days before his debut fall, is rubbing his hands now.
It looks like only an act of God can stop him collecting now and neither bode well for our opening-day Money Back Special all losers on both races.
A couple of shrewdies hoovered up the 5/1 Faugheen (above) for the Champion Hurdle after his Punchestown romp last season. Their faith that he would be Willie Mullins’ chosen Champion Hurdle contender from the novice brigade has been vindicated.
He’s currently the 5/4 favourite although Ruby Walsh has yet to decide whether he rides him or Hurricane Fly for the opening day showpiece.
Gordon Elliott’s Don Cossack was well punted at 8/1 for the Ryanair Chase before Christmas and has now and has now halved in price to 4/1 favourite for the 2m 5f contest on the Thursday.
But pride of place for the ante-post multiples goes to the UK customer who – at the end of November – had a vision. He saw Paul Nicholls’ Silviniaco Conti winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday week and the stable’s Zarkandar winning the the World Hurdle the day before.
He stuck both in a double at 8/1 and 16/1 respectively and with both now at the head of the betting (7/2 and 5/1) if our man is proven correct – he’s looking at a six-figure sum if both win.