Twelve months of waiting is almost over – the 2013 Cheltenham Festival is within touching distance. The four-day jump racing extravaganza commences on Tuesday 12th March and those that will be descending on Prestbury Park for the opening day will already be fine-tuning their vocal cords to participate in the lung-busting roar which reverberates throughout Gloucestershire when the tape goes up for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 1.30pm.
Are you in the My Tent Or Yours camp?
The roar that greets the start of the first race at Cheltenham 2013 may well be matched at the end of it if My Tent Or Yours triumphs in the William Hill-sponsored contest.
Nicky Henderson’s charge is no bigger than 7/4 at the time of writing and punters will latch on to the six-year-old in hope of kick-starting the meeting with a winner. The gelding was also popular ante post, attracting plenty of support at around the 8/1 mark prior to his facile victory in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
However, the Supreme has not been a happy hunting ground for favourite backers in recent years. Indeed, subsequent to Brave Inca justifying his position at the head of the market in the 2004 renewal, five horses have been sent off at 5/2 or shorter and have all come up short, including Dunguib who could finish only third despite going off at 4/5 in 2010.
Going for Gold!
It is predicted that the Cheltenham betting turnover will be in the region of £25million this year, particularly with mobile betting on the rise, and the race that will attract the most wagers is likely to be the Betfred Gold Cup.
Looking at the Cheltenham Gold Cup odds, it’s an open-looking renewal with Bobs Worth heading the market at a top-priced 10/3. Irish raider Sir des Champs, Silviniaco Conti and the 2011 Gold Cup hero Long Run are all prominent in the betting, too.
Kauto Star became the first horse in history to regain the Gold Cup in 2009, and Long Run will be bidding to follow in his hoof prints, having surrendered his crown last year. Meanwhile, if stable companion Bobs Worth prevails he will become just the third horse since 1981 to win the RSA Chase as a novice and go on to win the Gold Cup the following season.
For those keen to have a bet on Cheltenham this year and seeking a bit of advice, Silviniaco Conti can be backed at 5/1 in the ante post market and is worth considering. The French import jumps with aplomb, travels well in his races and possesses plenty of stamina, traits which are all crucial ingredients when aiming to pick out a potential Gold Cup winner.
Will Sacre sprint to Champion Chase glory?
For many, the star of the four-day show is Sprinter Sacre who is long odds-on for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
In terms of athleticism, it’s quite possible that the seven-year-old is the best chaser we have seen for many a year. He jumps with pinpoint accuracy and has won his two starts this term by an aggregate of 19 lengths.
The unique undulations of Cheltenham hold no terrors for Sprinter Sacre who blitzed his rivals in the Arkle Chase at the 2012 Festival and also scored at the track on his latest outing at the end of January.
He will face his sternest test yet in the Champion Chase, with Sizing Europe, winner of the race in 2011 and runner-up in last year’s renewal, in opposition. However, it will be a major surprise if Sprinter Sacre fails to make it 8-8 over fences on Wednesday 13th March.