Punchestown Day 4 Review

Punchestown Day 4 Review

Cheltenham's Champion Hurdle had plenty of people doubting Jezki as a worthy winner, but he followed up in impressive style when outgunning the ageing Hurricane Fly.

The Fly may well join Quevega in retirement, but stablemates Vautour and Arctic Fire were good winners on the card and could take on Jezki next season.

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Punchestown Day 3 Review

Punchestown Day 3 Review

Quevega was hunting a fifth straight Cheltenham-Punchestown double, but she was to suffer her first defeat since 2009 as Davy Russell stole the World Series Hurdle on Jetson.

Willie Mullins's great mare was promptly retired, but he has ample ammunition to replace her, headed by Annie Power who got back in the winning groove later in the week.

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Punchestown Day 2 Review

Punchestown Day 2 Review

It wasn't a vintage field for the Punchestown Gold Cup, and Cheltenham second On His Own flopped, but stablemate Boston Bob showed he's a force to be reckoned with in top company.

In the 3m Grade 1 novice hurdle, Nicky Henderson's Beat That followed up his Aintree win to cement his place as the top staying novice hurdler.

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Punchestown Day 1 Review

Punchestown Day 1 Review

Racegoers had an afternoon to remember on day 1 of Punchestown 2014, in large part thanks to Sizing Europe bowing out at the top in the Boylesports Champion Chase.

Earlier on the card, Faugheen had given a glimpse of what his career may hold when destroying a good field dropped back in trip to two miles.

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Punchestown Friday Preview

Punchestown Friday Preview

The combination of good ground and a strong gallop saw Jezki fulfil his potential at Cheltenham, and now he tries to stop Hurricane Fly landing a fifth straight Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

Also in action is Supreme winner Vautour, who steps up to 2m4 and is expected to follow stablemate Faugheen to the winners enclosure and the top of next season's ante-post markets.

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Punchestown Thursday Preview

Punchestown Thursday Preview

Thursday at Punchestown may be the last time we see the great mare Quevega on the racecourse, after a midweek trip to the breeding shed. She goes for a fifth straight Cheltenham-Punchestown double.

The other Grade 1 is the Ryanair Novice Chase over 2m, where Aintree winner Balder Succes takes on Mullins pair Champagne Fever and Felix Yonger.

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Punchestown Wednesday Preview

Punchestown Wednesday Preview

On His Own was a short head away from winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and to add insult to injury he's been deserted by Ruby Walsh for stablemate Boston Bob in Punchestown's version.

Several horses who went one better at Cheltenham are also in action today, including Silver Concorde, Don Poli and Very Wood.

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Punchestown Tuesday Preview

Punchestown Tuesday Preview

Punchestown 2014 gets underway tomorrow with three Grade 1 races. The Champion Chase has 5/1 co-favourites of three as 2m king Sire De Grugy enjoys his summer holiday.

Neptune winner Faugheen drops down to two miles in the Champion Novice Hurdle, while Ruby Walsh will have a 9lb weight allowance on Djakadam in the Champion Novice Chase.

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Fairyhouse Preview

Fairyhouse Preview

Easter weekend means it's Irish Grand National time at Fairyhouse. The big race on Monday features Foxhunters winner Tammys Hill bidding to follow up his Cheltenham victory.

Sunday's highlight is the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup, where RSA fourth Ballycasey takes on Rebel Fitz and the Gigginstown pair Bright New Dawn and Mozoltov.

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Aintree Saturday Review

Aintree Saturday Review

Pineau De Re etched his name into Aintree history when romping away with the Grand National. He was an eyecatcher over hurdles at Cheltenham, finishing strongly in the Pertemps.

Elsewhere on the card Balder Succes showed the benefit of skipping Cheltenham in the Maghull Chase, and could well be a player in the 2015 Champion Chase.

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Aintree Friday Review

Aintree Friday Review

Friday at Aintree produced several credible contenders for next year's Cheltenham Gold Cup, headed by Melling winner Boston Bob, who finally put it all together over fences.

Holywell and Ma Filleule finished 1-2 in a handicap at the Festival, and both came out and landed big pots here, with a future in Graded races a definite for both.

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Aintree Thursday Review

Aintree Thursday Review

Day 1 at Aintree saw The New One a red hot favourite to make amends for Cheltenham, and while he won it was a close run thing from a back-to-form Rock On Ruby and Diakali.

Another horse to make amends from the Festival was Silviniaco Conti, who got the better of Ryanair winner Dynaste in the Betfred Bowl.

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Grand National Preview

Grand National Preview

It's Grand National time, and the fence modifications have made for a different contest, so it's tricky to figure out who will follow last year's lottery winner Auroras Encore on the roll of honour.

Other races on the Aintree card include a competitive two mile novice chase, and At Fishers Cross in the Liverpool Hurdle, which could give Rebecca Curtis a day to remember.

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Aintree Friday Preview

Aintree Friday Preview

Day 2 at Aintree with the showpiece Melling Chase looking a substandard renewal, so as such we'll take a chance on a horse that steps out of handicap company.

RSA winner O'Faolains Boy takes on dual Festival winner Holywell in the Mildmay Novices Chase, while we have value bets for the two big novice hurdles and the Topham.

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Aintree Thursday Preview

Aintree Thursday Preview

Aintree's Grand National meeting opens up with four Grade 1 contests, with The New One a prohibitive 4/9 shot to make up for his Champion Hurdle misfortune.

The other races are more competitive, including the Betfred Bowl, where Ryanair winner Dynaste takes on Gold Cup 4th Silviniaco Conti and last year's winner First Lieutenant.

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Improving The Festival

Improving The Festival

We'll get on to Aintree later this week, but now that the dust has settled on Cheltenham 2014 we take a look at what changes we'd like to see to the race programme.

The dilution of quality in the level-weight races is noticable - several Ryanair protagonists could well have won the Gold Cup - so we'd go back to three days and wield the axe.

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Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

There are always lessons to be learned from every Festival. This year we look at the use of statistics, watering and laying horses, before celebrating ante-post betting as a medium and the bravery and skill of the jockeys who do so much to make the week

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Day 4 Review

Day 4 Review

The Gold Cup produced a bizarre finish with horses wandering all over the track. Lord Windermere survived a stewards enquiry to take the blue riband, retaining trainer Jim Culloty's 100% record at the Festival.

There was a remarkable 4 timer on the day for owners Gigginstown, allowing the portfolio to snatch victory in the Top Owners market from the jaws of defeat.

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Day 3 Review

Day 3 Review

The World Hurdle was billed as a clash between all time great Big Buck's and the hugely exciting, unbeaten Annie Power. However, it was another unbeaten horse, More Of That who took the spoils, amazingly in just the 5th race of his life.

Dynaste outstayed his rivals in the Ryanair Chase, leaving us thinking what might have been in the Gold Cup - but there's always next year!

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Day 2 Review

Day 2 Review

Even in a weak looking Champion Chase, seemingly everybody believed the form horse Sire De Grugy wouldn't handle the track - but he belied those doubts to register a wonderful win for the Moore family.

The Cross Country race isn't everybody's cup of tea, but portfolio followers had plenty to cheer when Balthazar King held off Any Currency, landing a 33/1 ante-post double.

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Day 1 Review

Day 1 Review

The most eagerly awaited Champion Hurdle in years produced an unsatisfactory outcome as The New One got badly hampered early on, only to finish strongly when the race was over.

That left the McManus pair of Jezki and My Tent Or Yours to fight it out, with 12/1 ante-post selection Jezki getting the portfolio off to a fine start. In the Supreme, Vautour was arguably the most impressive winner of the week and looks another great prospect for Willie Mullins.

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Day 4 Preview

Day 4 Preview

We've got three good bets in the portfolio today, with Captain Cutter, Certain Flight and Arctic Fire, who has been backed from 16/1 into 7/1f for the County Hurdle.

Last Instalment will run in the Gold Cup, giving the race an extra dimension, but we're taking the each-way price about a horse who saves his best for this test.

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Day 3 Preview

Day 3 Preview

There was only a short-head in it, but Balthazar King got the job done in the Cross Country to land a 33/1 winner via doubling up in November.

Day 3 has just Salubrious left in the portfolio, and we're adding a couple more plays in the JLT and Ryanair.

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Day 2 Preview

Day 2 Preview

The portfolio made a good start courtesy of Jezki, but Day 2 could well make or break the week. We've some great chances from ante-post shorteners Rathvinden, Corrin Wood, Arvika Ligeonniere & Balthazar King.

The Coral Cup is always a difficult puzzle to solve but rising star Bryan Cooper’s booking is a big plus for Ifandbutwhynot, who can cause a surprise here with a reversion to more positive tactics sure to suit.

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Day 1 Preview

Day 1 Preview

The time for talk is almost over and Cheltenham 2014 can begin. We've got Jezki, Ted Veale and Cockney Sparrow in the book, and good ground should suit all three.

Irving holds strong Supreme claims, but Brave Inca was the last favourite to win, a decade ago, so we're looking further down the betting to kick off festivities.

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Five Festival Predictions

Five Festival Predictions

Spring has broken through for the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, and those who make the pilgrimage to Prestbury Park can expect to bask in sunshine all week.

On the eve of racing we bring you our five Festival predictions; best of luck to all at the greatest show on turf.

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Festival Place Lays

Festival Place Lays

In last year's Festival, nine favourites won the 27 races; a strike rate of one in three. Every year plenty of horses look to hold outstanding chances only to not produce what's expected on the day.

We take a look at which horses at short prices are most vulnerable this year, and should be laid not only to win but also for a place.

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Time To Get Rich

Time To Get Rich

The Festival is the one time of year where fans of top grade racing can shoot for the stars with an accumulator; perming the best horses to win a significant amount of money.

We analyse what kind of horses to throw in, when to take the plunge and how to plan out the multiples, as well as offering up our Festival five-fold.

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Revealing Arkle Mover

Revealing Arkle Mover

The Arkle is one of the most predictable races of the week, with no winner priced in double figures in recent memory. Champagne Fever is favourite for his third straight Festival win, but there are plenty of doubts.

Fellow Irish raider Trifolium should also be in the mix, but it's thwarted handicap plot Ted Veale who is most interesting, rerouted from the Grand Annual.

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Seeking A Certainty

Seeking A Certainty

The Foxhunter Chase has been profitable for the column over the past two years, with Salsify advised at 7/1 and 10/1, but the dual winner is sidelined this season.

Other big names in the division will also be absent, so it looks worth exploring further down the betting for potential value.

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The Fire Of Temptation

The Fire Of Temptation

Ted Veale's County Hurdle win was a 25/1 torpedo to Road riches last season, so we can't resist getting involved in the race ante-post once more.

The Mullins strength in depth has put handicaps on the agenda for several promising novices, including one highly-rated beast yet to race under his ideal conditions.

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Lower Your Sights

Lower Your Sights

With only a week to go, most Cheltenham contenders are wrapped up in cotton wool, and more clues can be found monitoring the betting markets.

Those wading through handicap form study should keep in mind the difficulty of winning one of the ultra-competitive Festival contests from a high-end mark.

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Searching For Speed

Searching For Speed

Rather than the two-mile Supreme, it's the 2m5 Neptune that has proven the better trial for future Champion Hurdlers, and the roll of honour shows speed regularly trumps stamina.

Mullins's 'monster' Faugheen heads the market at 3/1, but a combination of experience and trainer vibes makes us want to take him on now.

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Strategic Plays

Strategic Plays

Favourites have won the last three renewals of the National Hunt Chase, exemplifying how the race trends have changed since it became a level-weights contest.

The market leaders this year, Foxrock and Shotgun Paddy, look to have solid chances, but changes in the weather could blow them off track so we've found a contingency plan.

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Festival Plot Holes

Festival Plot Holes

The Cheltenham handicap entries were released last week, with the weights announced this coming Thursday. Jonjo O'Neill has proven a Festival plot master and his Holywell looks interesting.

The star performer in action this weekend was Irving, who took his unbeaten hurdling record to four at Kempton and usurped Vautour at the top of the Supreme Novices' betting.

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Cockney Can Spoil Party

Cockney Can Spoil Party

Willie Mullins holds the key to the Mares' Hurdle, and the vibes are stablemates Annie Power and company will not line up, giving Quevega the best chance of a sixth straight victory.

While Quevega is obviously formidable, she wasn't impressive last year and at 10 years old may be vulnerable to a horse with a better finishing kick.

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Monsoon Impact

Monsoon Impact

One of the wettest winters on record is showing no signs of abating, and the effect on events at the Festival will go far beyond racing ground conditions on the day.

We investigate several angles, including preparatory approaches and the potential reliability of this season's form, plus what to pay close attention to as the week pans out.

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Festival Doubts

Festival Doubts

With just three weeks to the Festival, several of this weekend's winners are a doubt to turn up at Cheltenham, including Un De Sceaux who landed another romp in the Red Mills Hurdle.

One horse likely to make the trip is Dunguib, who showed he is still a force to be reckoned with five years after his demolition job in the Champion Bumper.

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Let It Shine

Let It Shine

Inspections permitting, mudlarks are going to make hay again this weekend, with big bruiser Captain Chris evens favourite for the only Grade 1 at Ascot.

Wincanton pits Zarkandar against Melodic Rendezvous in the Kingwell Hurdle, but giving weight to the field they may be vulnerable.

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Cut To The Chase

Cut To The Chase

The Albert Bartlett has proved a predictable race since its inception, with only one winner priced in double figures in nine runnings.

Furthermore, several towards the head of the betting are likely to run elsewhere, so we can narrow down the horses of interest to only a select few.

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Overpriced Gigs

Overpriced Gigs

Bookmakers have priced up the leading owner at the Festival, based on number of wins rather than prize money, and the market is dominated by JP McManus and Rich Ricci.

Investigation suggests it's more of a three horse race, and Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown contingent will make amends for near some misses in 2013.

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No Last Hurrah

No Last Hurrah

The Irish found their big Gold Cup hope at Leopardstown, as Last Instalment showed he's over his injury problems when running away with the Hennessy Gold Cup.

Elsewhere, Ballycasey and Vautour cemented their places at the head of the RSA and Supreme markets, while Harry Topper, Dodging Bullets and Smad Place impressed at Newbury.

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Feast Before Famine

Feast Before Famine

Plenty of stars are in action this weekend as Newbury and Leopardstown host excellent cards. Enjoy it while you can, as most Cheltenham horses will be wrapped in cotton wool after Sunday.

Tidal Bay runs in the Irish Hennessy, trying to land a Grade 1 as a teenager for Paul Nicholls, while the gloves come off Mullins hotpots Ballycasey, Vautour and Ivan Grozny.

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Class Will Out

Class Will Out

The Champion Chase is a unique race, as it rarely goes to an outsider. If you can't jump well at speed, you've got no chance, and there's no catching the classy trailblazers.

A peak form Sprinter Sacre is unstoppable, but he's a serious doubt to show up at the Festival and credible alternatives with the required class are thin on the ground.

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Arvika Still Underrated

Arvika Still Underrated

Few Festival clues were on offer this weekend, as big-race winners Oscar Whisky and Arvika Ligeonniere beat a combined five horses at prices of 1/6 and 2/7.

With Channel 4 viewing figures on the decline, we examine what can be done to reach out to a wider audience.

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Cat And Mouse

Cat And Mouse

The Ryanair Chase market is a house of cards, with the majority at the head of the betting unlikely to line up. As such now is the time to capitalise.

One trainer who deserves the closest attention for the Festival is Mouse Morris, and with First Lieutenant probably Gold Cup-bound, he has another arrow to fire here.

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Good Coup Bad Coup

Good Coup Bad Coup

Last week's orchestrated betting coup has racing folk divided. It is a masterful example of fine planning, or a nefarious sting that amounts to 'stealing' money?

Handicap plots are an inevitable aspect of a sport that is intrinsically linked to betting, yet some get painted as 'good' while others are 'bad'.

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Galloping Wood The RSA Call

Galloping Wood The RSA Call

The RSA Chase usually goes to one of two types of horse; a future Gold Cup contender who outclasses the field, or a tough, relentless galloper who exposes other novices.

With potential superstars thin on the ground, this year's renewal is looking like it will go the way of the latter. We analyse who fits the bill.

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All Great Things Must End

All Great Things Must End

Big Buck's returned to action in the Cleeve Hurdle, but his 18-race unbeaten record came to an end as he could only manage third behind 66/1 outsider Knockara Beau.

Another modern great, Hurricane Fly, showed he's still the dominant force in the speed hurdling division, as he landed a fourth Irish Champion Hurdle.

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Bob Can Spoil Big Bucks Party

Bob Can Spoil Big Bucks Party

Big Buck's returns from 14 months off injured at Cheltenham tomorrow, but past his eleventh birthday and on likely deep ground, the quadruple World Hurdle winner has to be taken on at odds-on.

All sorts of potential Festival horses are in action over the weekend, with Graded cards both sides of the Irish Sea.

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Zamdy Man Enough For Supreme

Zamdy Man Enough For Supreme

The Supreme Novices' Hurdle market usually goes one of two ways; a short-odds favourite, or big price the field. With seven weeks to go this year's market is still there for the taking.

Cinders And Ashes was a 14/1 winner for the blog in 2012, and the horse that won the same prep last weekend has been hugely underestimated at 33/1.

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Sire Secures Role Of Regent

Sire Secures Role Of Regent

Sire De Grugy coasted to another big two mile pot at Ascot to prove himself the clear pretender to the Champion Chase crown in the absence of Sprinter Sacre.

In Ireland, dual Grade 1 winning novice Last Instalment made a promising comeback after two years off. His next start should tell us if he's a live Gold Cup outsider.

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Sire May Not Get Home In The Cyclone

Sire May Not Get Home In The Cyclone

Ascot's Clarence House Chase will give Sire De Grugy another chance to show he's the leader of the two mile chasing pack when Sprinter Sacre is away.

With heavy ground at Ascot and more rain forecast, stamina could be more important than usual in this speed-focused division.

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Solving The Novice Problems

Solving The Novice Problems

The increase in level-weight novice races at the Festival has affected the shape and trends of these contests, with smaller fields and the best horses avoiding each other.

As such, uncertainty around horses' targets has resulted in the novice betting markets having an unusually open look at this stage, which analysis should be able to exploit.

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Trust Your Eyes

Trust Your Eyes

Un De Sceaux hacked up again at Navan, and he looks set to go for the softly-softly approach to the Champion Hurdle, which worked for Sublimity in 2007.

Form hawks will be quick to dismiss his chances, but sometimes it can be wiser to trust your eyes, and this horse looks every inch an absolute monster.

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Home Guard Can Repeal B Team

Home Guard Can Repeal B Team

The Supreme Novices' picture should become a bit clearer tomorrow, as favourite Vautour runs at Punchestown and Kempton hosts the rescheduled Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle.

Willie Mullins runs Upazo in the latter, and the Irish champion trainer also sends over Twinlight as he tries to juggle a yard jam-packed with talent.

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World Hurdle Ripe With Value

World Hurdle Ripe With Value

Doubts swirl towards the top of the World Hurdle betting, with defending champ Solwhit ruled out today, Big Buck's on the comeback trail and Annie Power potentially running elsewhere.

As such, the market must be ripe with value, so we dig down the page in search of a guaranteed runner whom the bookies are underestimating.

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Dynaste Can Bounce Back

Dynaste Can Bounce Back

With bet365 going non-runner no bet on the Cheltenham championship races, this opens up the range of potential bets, and one stands out in the Gold Cup.

Dynaste flopped in the King George, but that has been no obstacle to Gold Cup success in recent years, as Imperial Commander, Looks Like Trouble and See More Business have proved.

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Annie Shows Her Power

Annie Shows Her Power

Quevega has been the best mare in training for several seasons, but the feeling is Willie Mullins has one even better in Annie Power, who is unbeaten in nine and slammed Zarkandar on her first run at Cheltenham.

The conundrum for punters is she has three legitimate Festival targets, so it's a guessing game where she'll go.

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My First Thought On Waking

My First Thought On Waking

I can’t remember ever backing a horse ante-post for a Festival novice chase and thinking he’d improved his chances by getting beaten at long odds on.

That is the case with Felix Yonger in the Arkle however, and the problem now is that my first thought on waking every morning is how much more to have on him.

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Sprinter Disaster

Sprinter Disaster

Sprinter Sacre's irregular heartbeat is a disaster for the jumps game, as its marquee name faces an uncertain career path at just seven years old.

On happier notes, fellow 7yos Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card dominated the King George, and the latter may be given a chance for revenge in the Gold Cup.

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Time For A New Order

Time For A New Order

The Lexus Chase betting is headed by the Gold Cup 1-2, Bobs Worth and Sir Des Champs, but both bombed out on their only start this season and the division looks ripe for a new name.

Elsewhere tomorrow, the old dogs will hunt two circuits around Chepstow in a gruelling Welsh National, while a host of promising novice hurdlers come together in Newbury's Challow.

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Take The Obvious Cue

Take The Obvious Cue

Kempton's Christmas cracker is producing a top class King George VI Chase, and it's a surprise to see Cue Card not clear favourite after beating most of the contenders in the Betfair Chase.

Also on Boxing Day, The New One and My Tent Or Yours clash in the Christmas Hurdle, with preference for the latter on this speedier track.

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Un De Sceaux Could Be Anything

Un De Sceaux Could Be Anything

Willie Mullins already trains reigning champion hurdler Hurricane Fly and unbeaten mare Annie Power, and the emergence of Un De Sceaux gives him another arrow to fire at the Festival opening day showpiece.

Elsewhere, a 'Concorde' jumped to the head of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle betting.

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Salubrious To Prove Super Sub

Salubrious To Prove Super Sub

Celestial Halo has been scratched from Ascot's Long Walk Hurdle, but we still want to take on odds-on favourite At Fishers Cross, who bombed out at 10/11 last time.

In the big handicap hurdle, we're siding with plot maestro Brian Ellison and a horse unraced over jumps since last year's Cheltenham Festival.

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Everyone Loves An Acca

Everyone Loves An Acca

Riverside Theatre's 2012 Ryanair win landed a £1m payout for stable lad Conor Murray, who had a £50 5-way accumulator the preceding December.

Plenty of punters back multiples to shoot for the stars, so what criteria should we be looking at for a Cheltenham 2014 acca?

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Twiston-Davies Setting Great Example

Twiston-Davies Setting Great Example

The New One kept his place at the top of the Champion Hurdle betting after the International, and now may head to Kempton over Christmas and a clash with My Tent Or Yours.

In the novice division, Briar Hill, Ballyalton and Kings Palace jumped to the head of the Cheltenham markets.

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Fill Up On Ma

Fill Up On Ma

Cheltenham's December Gold Cup looks super-competitive, with Paddy Power Gold Cup 1-2 Johns Spirit and Colour Squadron heading the market.

It's tough to be definitive about the principals, so rather than getting stuck in at single figures we're taking a flyer on a dark horse making their first chase start in the UK.

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Only Back Shorteners Ante-Post

Only Back Shorteners Ante-Post

Ante-post betting is an inexact science, but you still have to be looking in a certain type of market to maximise its potential. There's no point playing ante-post if the price will be similar on the day.

Big Buck's and The New One are two popular horses for Cheltenham 2014, but their particular roads to the Festival will hold the price up.

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Champion Casts A Long Shadow

Champion Casts A Long Shadow

Sprinter Sacre's absence from the Tingle Creek gave Sire De Grugy his day in the sun, but there was no suggestion the winner would have troubled the champion chaser.

It's fanciful to play in the Queen Mother market, but Willie Mullins has a pair of some interest in Arvika Ligeonniere and Twinlight, both victorious over the weekend.

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Try A Champagne Substitute

Try A Champagne Substitute

The Arkle is a great race for the market leaders, and dual Festival winner Champagne Fever dominates the betting after an impressive chasing debut.

Trainer Willie Mullins has several talented novice chasers however, so in juggling his Cheltenham pack it's possible we could get a switch of targets the market doesn't expect.

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Henderson Back In Business

Henderson Back In Business

Several of Nicky Henderson's big guns had disappointed this season, but wins for My Tent Or Yours and Triolo D'Alene on Saturday dispelled fears for the form of the yard.

My Tent Or Yours being cut to 9/2 for the Champion Hurdle, while the same owners' Jezki was pushed out to 10/1 despite landing the Grade 1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle.

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Lets All Go To Rio

Lets All Go To Rio

Top action from both sides of the Irish Sea this weekend, with Champion Hurdle pretender My Tent Or Yours taking his first step out of novice company in Newcastle's Fighting Fifth Hurdle.

Fairyhouse hosts three Grade 1 races on Sunday, including Jezki in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle and a competitive Drinmore, where Alan Potts could have another 'Sizing' star.

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Gold Cup Prince

Gold Cup Prince

The Hennessy Gold Cup is one of the season's top handicaps, but on Saturday the top weight is 8lbs lower than any of the last five years, so it could be unwise to follow recent race trends.

There's any number in with chances, but we like the look of a horse who has been well-regarded, but niggling injuries have thwarted his rise to the top.

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Cue Card Stays

Cue Card Stays

Cue Card bounced back from his Haldon defeat to power away with the Betfair Chase. Now proven over three miles, we can look at him as an ante-post Gold Cup proposition.

New boy Dynaste ran well in second, and with Nicky Henderson's Gold Cup winners Bobs Worth and Long Run well beaten, it's 6/1 the field for the Festival's blue riband race.

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Roi Can Surprise Vintage Betfair Field

Roi Can Surprise Vintage Betfair Field

Eight top class horses run in the Betfair Chase, which looks one of the best National Hunt races we've seen outside of the Cheltenham Festival for years.

Last year's top novice Dynaste takes on hardened warriors Bobs Worth, Silviniaco Conti, Cue Card, Long Run, Tidal Bay and The Giant Bolster, but we could have an upset from across the Irish Sea.

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Resurgent Jonjo In Great Spirits

Resurgent Jonjo In Great Spirits

Johns Spirit's Paddy Power Gold Cup win consolidated Jonjo O'Neill's lead at the top of the trainers' championship.

He won't stay there for too long, but the yard has some very promising horses, headed by Taquin De Seuil, who looks a very smart recruit to the chasing ranks.

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Profits Over Prejudices

Profits Over Prejudices

The Cross Country chases are not historically favoured betting events, but a bit of analysis has offered up a few clues, and one horse stands out as ideally suited.

Elsewhere this weekend, Sunday's Greatwood has often been a stepping stone onto a Champion Hurdle campaign, and Graded horses can make hay of their handicap marks.

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Ballynagour A Pipe Classic

Ballynagour A Pipe Classic

David Pipe has thrown a spanner in the Paddy Power Gold Cup betting, by withdrawing ante-post favourite Dynaste and Salut Flo to rely solely on Ballynagour.

The yard have a particular fondness for the race, and it wouldn't surprise us to see him go off favourite and emulate 2011 winner Great Endeavour.

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Ten To Follow Selections

Ten To Follow Selections

Sprinter Sacre is an obvious banker in the Ten To Follow, but is he worth leaving out of a few perms in search of an edge? Will Big Buck's come back and reclaim his stayers crown?

Finding the winners of the first two bonus races - the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Hennessy - are vital to success, so it's worth throwing a few in declared for Saturday's big race.

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Ten To Follow 12-13 Post Mortem

Ten To Follow 12-13 Post Mortem

The Betfred/Tote Ten To Follow entry deadline closes at midday on Friday, so we take a look at why we didn't scoop the 250k prize in last year's competition.

The season was unique for its predictability, as ante-post favourites landed a majority of the key bonus races.

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Jury Out On Flemenstar

Jury Out On Flemenstar

Flemenstar won on his first start for Tony Martin but tougher tests lie ahead, while Cue Card's defeat in the Haldon Gold Cup pushed his odds out for the King George and Cheltenham.

Elsewhere, top hurdler Grandouet unseated on his chasing debut. With a clear ratings edge over other fencing recruits this was disappointing for the Arkle trends.

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Cotton Mill To Bounce Back On Sound Surface

Cotton Mill To Bounce Back On Sound Surface

Another top weekend's racing as Wincanton hosts one of its two big days on Saturday where Cotton Mill could be the pick of the day.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Flemenstar is back in action whilst Rule the World looks the type to take on in the Lismullen Hurdle with Maya Beach one to look out for in opposition.

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Magnificent McCoy To Go Out At The Top

Magnificent McCoy To Go Out At The Top

AP McCoy reached the extraordinary milestone of 4,000 jumps winners at Towcester on Thursday.

The great man will want to go out at the top. We may not have that much longer to enjoy his genius, so lets enjoy him whilst we can

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Well Handicapped With Ratings Of 170+

Well Handicapped With Ratings Of 170+

Horses rated 170+ have an excellent record in handicaps and Cue Card looks underestimated off 172 based on last season's form.

He's the first 2pt bet of the season for the portfolio in Tuesday's Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.

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Dont Underestimate Improving Roi Du Mee

Dont Underestimate Improving Roi Du Mee

Harry Topper and Roi Du Mee upstaged the bigger names in the two big chases on Saturday. The latter appeals as one to continue to be underestimated when the mud is flying.

The portfolio's first bet for the Festival, Jezki, duly won on the bridle on his comeback at Down Royal. He heads for a showdown with Hurricane Fly and Our Conor in a fortnight.

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Benefficient To Stay The Course

Benefficient To Stay The Course

Long Run makes his seasonal debut in the Charlie Hall Chase, but the former Gold Cup winner has never fired first time out and is worth taking on as a short-priced favourite.

Another past champion, Sizing Europe looks a fine price at 3/1 for an eighth Grade 1 victory in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal.

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Nicholls Unleashes Novice Chasing Talent

Nicholls Unleashes Novice Chasing Talent

In a week where the great Denman was revealed to be on the mend after a life threatening infection, Paul Nicholls unleashed a few of his modern-day novice chase prospects.

Just A Par was turned over at odds-on, but Wonderful Charm, Sonofvic and Black Thunder all won and their Festival prospects could be underrated.

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Spotting The Festival Novice Hurdlers

Spotting The Festival Novice Hurdlers

It doesn't make sense to get too carried away about the early season novice hurdle form, as these are rookies without solid form to back up their performances.

Taking an interest, however, can help you construct this form base before others have cottoned on.

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Half A Chance Of Seeing A Festival Winner

Half A Chance Of Seeing A Festival Winner

Of the four level-weights novice chases run at the Festival in the last decade, 50% of winners had made their debut over fences before the end of October.

2013 Festival winners Benefficient and Back In Focus had both run by this stage of last season so it's worth investigating the late Autumn form.

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New Star In Champion Hurdle Division

 New Star In Champion Hurdle Division

The Road to Cheltenham returns for a third year, where National Hunt expert Matt Tombs will share his analysis of the season, leading up to the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

A few big guns have been out already, and all roads lead to the Champion Hurdle for The New One after his impressive reappearance at Kempton.

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Taxi for Vana

Taxi for Vana

Having paid a visit to the Czech Republic for its most famous race, the Velka Pardubice, it's interesting to see how it compares to the Cross Country races run in the UK and Ireland.

The most notable aspect is that it's a severe test of jumping; something that isn't the case at Cheltenham and Punchestown.

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Cheltenham Countdown

Welcome to our exclusive betting blog focusing on the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

For the third year running, we welcomed National Hunt expert Matt Tombs to blog all things Cheltenham through the winter. The highlight was Jezki's Champion Hurdle win, which was a vindication of a long-term plot and went some way to ensuring another Festival in profit. Click through to view the archive of 2012 and 2013.

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2014 Results:

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Western Boy - Supreme Novices - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Zamdy Man - Supreme Novices - 1pt 33/1 - N/R

Ted Veale - Arkle - 1pt e/w 25/1 NRNB - U/P

Felix Yonger - Arkle - 1pt 16/1 - N/R

Jezki - Champion Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - WON

Cockney Sparrow - Mares Hurdle - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Foxrock - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 9/2 - U/P

Gullinbursti - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 33/1 NRNB - N/R

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Rathvinden - Neptune Novices - 1pt e/w 16/1 - 3rd

Corrin Wood - RSA Chase - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Ifandbutwhynot - Coral Cup - 1pt 28/1 - U/P

Arvika Ligeonniere - Champion Chase - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Balthazar King - Cross Country - 1pt 33/1 - WON

Modus - Champion Bumper - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

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Mozoltov - JLT Novices Chase - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Champagne Fever - JLT Novices Chase - 1pt 7/1 - N/R

Benefficient - Ryanair Chase - 1pt 9/2 - U/P

Baily Green - Ryanair Chase - 1pt e/w 20/1 NRNB - N/R

Salubrious - World Hurdle - 1pt e/w 25/1 - U/P

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Captain Cutter - Albert Bartlett - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Arctic Fire - County Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 - 2nd

The Giant Bolster - Gold Cup - 1pt 16/1 - 3rd

Dynaste - Gold Cup - 1pt 25/1 NRNB - N/R

Certain Flight - Foxhunter Chase - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - U/P

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Gigginstown - Top Owner - 1pt 7/1 - WON

Good Ground - Official Going - 1pt 10/1 - LOST

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Advised Bets:

Sizing Gold - Aon Novice Handicap Chase - 1pt 7/1 - U/P

On The Fringe - Champion Hunters Chase - 1pt 7/4 - WON

At Fishers Cross - World Series Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - 3rd

Balder Succes - Ryanair Novice Chase - 1pt 11/4 - 3rd

Art Of Logistics - Three.ie Handicap Chase - 1pt 12/1 - 2nd

Lyreen Legend - Punchestown Gold Cup - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Shanahan's Turn - Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle - 1pt e/w 33/1 - U/P

Mozoltov - Boylesports.com Champion Chase - 1pt 9/1 - U/P

Western Boy - Champion Novice Hurdle - 1pt e/w 10/1 - U/P

Mullaghanoe River - Irish National - 1pt 18/1 - U/P

Mozoltov - Powers Gold Cup - 1pt 11/2 - U/P

Quito De La Roque - Grand National - 1pt 40/1 - U/P

Salubrious - Liverpool Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Ted Veale - Maghull Chase - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Saint Are - Aintree Handicap Chase - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Ballynagour - Melling Chase - 1pt 7/1 - 3rd

King Of The Picts - Top Novices Hurdle - 1pt 33/1 - 3rd

Themanfrom Minella - Sefton Novices Hurdle - 1pt 50/1 - U/P

Giorgio Quercus - Topham Chase - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Dynaste - Betfred Bowl - 1pt 15/8 - 2nd

Turn Over Sivola - Red Rum Chase - 1pt 8/1 - 2nd

Uxizandre - Manifesto Novices Chase - 1pt 9/2 - WON

Mossey Joe - Aintree Fox Hunters - 1pt 13/8 - 3rd

Baby Shine - Reynoldstown Chase - 1pt 7/1 - U/P

Grumeti - Kingwell Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - U/P

Bog Warrior - Red Mills Chase - 1pt 9/4 - U/P

Lord Windermere - Irish Hennessy - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Vautour - Deloitte Novice - 1pt 2/1 - WON

Tammys Hill - Hunters Chase - 1pt e/w 5/1 - WON

Vendor - Betfair Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Boston Bob - Cleeve Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - U/P

The Giant Bolster - Argento Chase - 1pt 7/1 - WON

Unioniste - Sky Bet Chase - 1pt 9/2 - 3rd

Hidden Cyclone - Clarence House Chase - 1pt 7/2 - 2nd

Captain Chris - WH Chase - 1pt 2/1 - WON

The Liquidator - Tolworth Hurdle - 1pt 5/2 - U/P

Lord Windermere - Lexus Chase - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Hey Big Spender - Welsh National - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Shantou Magic - Challow Hurdle - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Morning Assembly - Topaz Novice Chase - 1pt 9/4 - 2nd

Cue Card - King George - 1pt 7/2 - 2nd

My Tent Or Yours - Christmas Hurdle - 1pt 5/4 - WON

Defy Logic - Racing Post Novice Chase - 1pt 6/1 - WON

Salubrious - Long Walk Hurdle - 1pt 9/1 - 2nd

Totalize - The Ladbroke - 1pt 9/1 - U/P

Ma Filleule - December Gold Cup - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Prince De Beauchene - Hennessy Gold Cup - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Grumeti - Fighting Fifth - 1pt e/w 10/1 - 3rd @ 9/1

Sizing Rio - Drinmore - 1pt 5/2 - U/P @ 3/1

Jezki - Hatton's Grace - 1pt Evens - WON

Roi Du Mee - Betfair Chase - 1pt e/w 20/1 - U/P

Ballynagour - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 8/1 - U/P

Gift Of Dgab - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Cash And Go - Greatwood Hurdle - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Cotton Mill - Elite Hurdle - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Cue Card - Haldon Gold Cup - 2pts 11/8 - U/P

Benefficient - Charlie Hall Chase - 1pt 9/1 - U/P

Sizing Europe - JNwine Champion Chase - 1pt 3/1 - 2nd