Search icon


24th Jan 2020

Ante-post Cheltenham chances to get stuck into before it’s too late

Lloyd Murphy

With the Dublin Racing Festival nearly a week away, it is worth nicking a few ante-post prices before they shorten up after Leopardstown and the UK Cheltenham preps.

Some firms have already gone Non-runner-no-bet for Cheltenham, while most are yet to play their hand with plenty of value still to be had for those who fancy an early flutter seven weeks out.

Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival is in its third year and will once again play host to a number of Cheltenham hopefuls, who are getting one last run in before they grace the hallowed turf at Prestbury Park in March.

In 2013, Our Conor was ‘ The Irish banker,’ and he duly obliged winning by 15ls at a very generous price of 4/1 on the day of his Triumph Hurldle win. Many got in before the rush though and had him at double-figure prices before his National Hunt debut at Navan that November, showcasing the value in the ante-post market.

Plenty of racing fans are still of the opinion that the ante-post market is dead, but with some due diligence, you can take advantage of some bigger prices that still have a little juice in them before Cheltenham. Here are some festival fancies that represent a bit of value before they run at the showcase event in March.

Aspire Tower 6/1 – Triumph Hurdle

Aspire Tower has gone from strength to strength since going over jumps with two facile wins. An 86-rated horse on the flat with Richard Hannon, he was a 13 length winner in Punchestown and followed this up with a flawless display in Leopardstown beating Wolf Prince by 18ls.

Wolf Prince has subsequently franked the form and is the current fav for the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle in Cheltenham. Aspire Tower has a serious engine and if you re-watch his race in Leopardstown, it’s clear that the other jockeys couldn’t keep the pace with him.

This year’s Triumph could turn out to be a decent race with both Allmankind and Goshen looking like serious prospects. Goshen can’t jump and Allmankind could blow up if he goes at his usual frenetic pace out in front, setting it up nicely for Aspire Tower to stalk in the slipstream. 6/1 about Aspire Tower is a steel, before he runs in the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle. If he wins he will be backed into at least 3/1.

Battleoverdoyen 8/1 – RSA Chase

Champ’s 4/1 odds for the RSA Chase appear way too short. He is a very smart horse, but in his last race at Cheltenham, he fell at the final fence and made plenty of jumping errors which you can’t afford to make in an attritional rach such as the RSA.

Battleoverdoyen has the perfect profile for this test of stamina and since going chasing has constantly progressed with each run. There will be a few question marks over Battleoverdoyen since he disappointed massively at the festival last year but you have to take Gordon Elliott on his word.

The Meath trainer reported afterwards that his horse didn’t travel over well, and that he was probably wrong to bring him over.

His recent Grade 1 win at Leopardstown cemented his place towards the top of the market and he beat Champagne Classic who is a very good yardstick in his own right, being the joint-favorite for the National Hunt Chase. Battleoverydoyen is a horse tailor-made for the RSA, size, scope and a strong stayer.

Shishkin 5/1  – Supreme

They’ve been talking about Shishkin, since well before he won his Irish P2P at Lingstown. He was then sold to Joe Donnelly and sent to Nicky Henderson’s yard. His debut under rules would have gone under the radar for many as it was the Saturday after Cheltenham, but he won his bumper in mighty fashion at Kempton. His first start over hurdles was very disappointing as he took a crashing fall at only the 2nd flight. However, he redeemed himself on his 3rd start with a commanding performance at Newbury in mid-January winning by 11ls and cementing his position towards the top of the Supreme market.

His turn of foot in the last few furlongs is something special. The same owners have another very nice novice with Willie Mullins in the shape of Asterion Forlonge but he is more likely to go to the Ballymore or up further in trip. Nicky has said he could run next month in The Dovecote and a win there would see his odds shorten dramatically.

The Big Breakaway 14/1 – The Ballymore

The Big Breakaway is the best novice we have seen this year in the UK. He didn’t come cheap costing his owners €360,000 at the Goffs Punchestown sales, but he has repaid some of his hefty price tag back with two commanding wins at Chepstow and Newbury.

If he turns up in the Ballymore he will be a serious danger to Envoi Allen. Joe Tizzard confirmed recently on Luck on Sunday that his stable star will be aimed at Ballymore. However, it was confirmed last Tuesday that he will be on the easy list for next few weeks as he suffered a minor setback and will miss Cheltenham Trials Day this weekend. There should be plenty of time between now and Cheltenham to get a prep race into him before his engagement in the Ballymore. This is one of the best each-way bets of the festival currently at 14/1. The Big Breakaway could easily be a future Gold Cup horse for the Tizzards.

Glenloe 8/1 – Kim Muir

This race has been the plan all along for Glenloe, JP McManus and Gordon Elliott, and he could go off as low as 4/1 favourite.

His record in Cheltenham is solid having just been touched off by current Gold Cup hopeful Delta Work in the Pertemps back in 2018. Glenloe has had plenty of prep runs this season over fences and should have another pipe opener to get him ready for Cheltenham. Currently, off a mark of 135, he will easily get into the Kim Muir. A race his handler Gordon Elliott has won in the past with the mighty Cause of Causes in 2016, Glenloe can follow up again for the Meath trainer and get into the winner’s enclosure in the last race on day 3.

Chacun Pour Soi 9/2 – Queen Mother

It took a long time before we finally got to see Chacun Pour Soi, but it was worth the wait. He was off the track for a number of years before his imperious debut under rules, where he won by 31ls at Naas.

But his 2nd performance at Punchestown was something special beating two Cheltenham 2019 winners in Defi De Seuil and Duc Des Genievres. He disappointed in Leopardstown over Christmas, but clearly needed the run and A Plus Tard is a horse on a serious upward curve in his own right.

Patrick Mullins said recently he expects “huge improvement” from Chacun Pour Soi who should come on massively for his recent outing. He will have to go and win at the Dublin Racing Festival if he is going to live up to his big reputation, before a tilt at the Queen Mother. Keep the faith with Chacun Pour Soi who has the potential to progress again and 9/2 is a fair price.

Honeysuckle 7/1 – Champion Hurdle

If Honeysuckle wins the Irish Champion Hurdle her owners would seriously have to think about going for the Champion Hurdle in March.

The Mares Hurdle is her likely target though, where she will face off against the mighty Benie Des Dieux who is looking for redemption after last year’s crashing fall at the last.

Benie Des Dieux was super in the Galmoy Hurdle on Thursday winning by 21ls and cementing her place at the top of the Mares Hurdle market.

After this win, Honeysuckle shortened again for the Champion Hurdle and could look to avoid Benie Des Dieux. Honeysuckle has the gears, class and stays well and will have no problem getting up the Cheltenham hill. She is best priced 7/1 for The Champion Hurdle and 9/2 NRNB with some firms. It is a bit of gamble as this isn’t confirmed as her Cheltenham target, but the 7/1 is worth taking before the Dublin Racing Festival. Her trainer Henry De Bromhead confirmed during the week it will be given serious consideration after Leopardstown.

Ronald Pump 16/1 – Pertemps

Matthew Smith is a very shrewd trainer and he has a really nice horse in his hands in the shape of Ronald Pump. He will almost certainly carry close to if not top-weight in the Pertemps Final, assuming the British handicapper adds a few pounds on him. The Storyteller is a current fav and rightly so but 16/1 for Ronald Pump is good value and if he shows up for the race, like he did in the race below, his fast finish will be some addition to his Cheltenham chances.

Riders Onthe Storm 10/1 – Ryanair

Bought for 50k after being trained by Tom Taaffe in Ireland, Riders Onthe Storm has been a revelation since he joined the Nigel Twiston Davies yard.

Making his debut for new connections in a handicap off a mark of 140 at Aintree in November, Riders Onthe Storm blew away his rivals in a useful field. He was well-backed to follow up in the Caspian Caviar Chase at Cheltenham a month later but due to a clerical error, he couldn’t take up his engagement at Cheltenham.

However, he turned up at Ascot a week later tanking around throughout the race and won hard held and bolting up. If he was in Nicky Henderson or Willie Mullins yards he would be a much shorter price. He has improved a total of 22lb since joining Nigel Twiston Davies and his trainer has confirmed he will get a run into him before Cheltenham. In a very open year in the Ryanair, the 10/1 still on offer is worth taking.

Marie’s Rock 11/2 – Mares Novice Hurdle

Marie’s Rock is a horse with serious potential. Winner of a bumper and now two hurdle races, Middleham Park Racing’s pride and joy is an 11/2 shot for the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in March. Her owners have confirmed the Cheltenham dream is still alive and they are hopeful of a first festival winner in their colours. In the hands of Nicky Henderson, Marie’s Rock confirmed the striking impression of her Haydock success when sluicing up by eight lengths in Taunton. Her turn of foot was deadly. 11/2 is a fair price now and this 5-year-old mare will be close to the top of the market on the day.

Delta Work 9/1 – Gold Cup

A previous Cheltenham Festival winner in 2017 in the Pertemps, Delta Work went for the festival double last year but came up short in the RSA, where he finished 3rd after going off the well-touted favourite.

Gordon Elliott’s horse was top novice chaser last year winning the Drinmore and the Neville Hotels Chase, and then finished a gallant third in the RSA chase behind Santini and Topofthegame.

His seasonal debut at Down Royal was very disappointing but he rarely goes well fresh and silenced his critics next time out. He is always being thought of highly in the yard with the Gold Cup in mind. The current holder Al Boum Photo will still be the one to beat and was again very impressive in this last race in Tramore. However, Delta Work can lay down a marker in the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival and put his Cheltenham credentials on the line. He is currently 6th in the Gold Cup betting and there is still plenty of juice in the price at 9/1.

Here are two other horses at bigger prices who are worth putting in the notebook before the festival.

Sporting John (20/1) – Ballymore

This son of Getaway has been very impressive in a brace of wins at Exeter. He was due to run at Cheltenham in the Ballymore trial but wasn’t declared she should run very soon. Keep an eye on this progressive five-year-old for Philip Hobbs.

Stand Up & Fight (16/1) – Foxhunters

Stand Up & Fight went off one of the hot favourites for the race last year, but finished 6th, well down the field on the day. His trainer Enda Bolger admitted that Cheltenham was probably a year too soon for him last season, and they are trying a different prep with him this year. In terms of a hunter chaser, he is still very young and with a year’s more experience under his belt, has a decent squeak.

 Super Heinz Ante-Post*

A Super Heinz is a wager on 7 selections consisting of 21 Doubles, 35 Trebles, 35 Four-Folds, 21 Five-Folds, 7 Six-Folds, and a Seven-Fold Accumulator totaling 120 bets.

Shishkin 5/1 – Supreme

Chacun Pour Soi 9/2 – Queen Mother 

The Big Breakaway 14/1 – Ballymore

Marie’s Rock 11/2 – Mares Novice 

Aspire Tower 6/1 – Triumph

Battleoverdoyen 8/1 – RSA

Delta Work 9/1 – Gold Cup

*All prices were taken from Oddschecker and were correct at the time of writing.