Cheltenham Festival 2011 Betting Angles
‘Horses for courses’, the old saying goes. It is not a bad starting point when looking at down the racecard at any race meeting but it certainly applies more than ever when picking a horse at Cheltenham.
Cheltenham is a peculiar track, with the undulations of the course and the gruelling final hill not suiting every horse. Take RSA favourite Time For Rupert, he is yet to be out of the first two in five races around the track. He obviously loves it.
Looking at the Festival from a betting perspective, it often pays to follow individuals that have Cheltenham Festival experience.
The Festival is a meeting like no other. The atmosphere is something that many horses will not have experienced. Some races are often lost in the preliminaries, with some horses finding the atmosphere so tense that they boil over before they line up to race.
The fields are big, the races are rough and the competition is fierce, so if you spot a horse who has had that sort of experience before, you instantly know that this is a situation the horse can handle.
Take the Champion Hurdle. Binocular, currently heading the market at around 3-1, has an impressive Cheltenham Festival record at first glance. With form figures of 231 after three runs at the Festival, it is clear that Binocular has the constitution and class to cope with the pressure of a Championship race around Cheltenham.
Two of his main challengers, Menorah and Peddlers Cross, also bring solid Festival form to the table. Menorah landed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last year and has added two more course and distance wins to that initial success this season, taking his record to three from three around Cheltenham.
Peddlers Cross, unbeaten in six races under rules to date, showed a gritty attitude to win the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle over 2m 5f last March. Although he has to drop back to the bare two miles against some speedy types, the race will be run at a frantic pace so he ought to be able to cope with it.
On the flip side, Hurricane Fly, who is as short as 4-1 with Coral and Paddy Power to win the Champion Hurdle, has never had a taste of the Festival before. He has twice in two years been unable to make the big day due to injury
However, this year he approaches the race with three easy wins in Irelandto his name and he is strongly fancied to land the spoils for trainer Willie Mullins.
But, with opponents in the line-up with greater Festival experience, surely it is a more sensible option to side with them?
At least if one of Binocular, Menorah or Peddlers Cross came up trumps, you’d be able to look to your neighbour and say: ‘Horses for courses.’
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