Attack An Acca

Attack An Acca

Last season I looked at the tactics for Festival accumulators. Given that ante-post books change so much from month to month, this season I’m going to look at the value each month and hopefully give some pointers towards winning a life-changing sum at the Festival.

One market I like is the Champion Chase because there are so few horses you can see lining up with any chance. Traditionally the previous year’s race and Arkle are extremely strong guides – this century only 3 winners hadn’t run in the previous renewal of one of those 2 races.

It’s hard to imagine anything from last season’s Champion Chase other than Sire De Grugy winning this time. The only plausible winner from the Arkle is Champagne Fever who looks much better over further so is an unlikely runner.

The other factor giving the market a good shape is the presence of a favourite who has a big cloud hanging over him, in the brilliant Sprinter Sacre (3/1). Whilst true greatness requires longevity, in his short time at the top he’s as good a chaser as I’ve seen. Every true racing fan will be praying for him to come back to his best this season, in which case he wins this. Easily. Sadly, that’s doubtful and reading between the lines, the vibes from Seven Barrows aren’t strong enough to do anything other than oppose him at the prices.

If Sprinter Sacre isn’t the same horse, that might bring Simonsig, (14/1,) into it. Given he has to prove he retains his ability and that the plan is for him to run over further, he can’t be backed now – although there is obviously a decent chance one of the two will line up.

As he’s still only 8, there’s no reason why Sire De Grugy shouldn’t remain at his peak this year. That said, he beat the 164 rated, 10 year old Somersby 6l in the Champion Chase and that’s slightly below average Champion Chase form, so unless he improves again he ought to be vulnerable to a young up and coming horse. Given he could face a top form Sprinter Sacre or Simonsig, its hard to argue 4/1 is good value.

For singles I’d try to find an unexposed long shot, that I think is likely to show up, to back each-way, as the race could fall apart. There could easily be another single figure field containing a couple of no-hopers - so an early/mid 160s horse would have a good chance of being placed and might win.

However for a win accumulator, the right strategy must be Balder Succes (14/1). As Alan King said after he won the Grade 1 Maghull at Aintree - fences have made a man of him. He showed loads of speed round the sharp Mildmay track, stays the trip well and is a good jumper.

Still only 6, he looks on the upgrade and that Aintree form was franked the other day when Simply Ned, (beaten 4l in 2nd), won off 157. I wouldn’t be concerned about him getting turned over at Punchestown as he chased a suicidal pace. The only concern is that he’s had 3 runs at Cheltenham, (2 over hurdles and 1 over fences,) and been on the deck every time. It’s possible he’ll remember that but he seemed to be acting well on the track before tipping up 2 out last October. 14/1 looks too big - he runs (off 160) in the Haldon on Tuesday where the presence of Cue Card (172,) looks to give him a strong chance. If he wins impressively there he’ll be a lot shorter for the Champion Chase.

Another market I like is the Champion Hurdle. Everyone agreed last season’s race was a vintage renewal, yet the principles look to have been completely underrated. Faugheen could be anything and it’s fair enough that he’s short in the market but otherwise I saw the first 2 home from last season, Jezki and My Tent Or Yours, being the main players again – with the latter sadly sidelined.

The New One (7/2) looks a sentimental favourite because he was unlucky to be hampered by Our Conor in the Champion. He was within 2l at the top of the hill though and got done for toe when the taps got turned on, before running on all too late. He then only scrambled home in a poor renewal of the Aintree Hurdle. Perhaps he’d used too much energy getting back into it in the Champion but, a year older, I’d be concerned about him getting done for speed again. He proved his well being when converting a penalty kick at Kempton recently.

With Vautour, Un De Sceaux and Annie Power looking unlikely to run at the moment, its 25/1 bar. Whilst Irving and Vaniteux are interesting outsiders, I think the market underestimates Jezki. He looked to improve again at Punchestown – if there’s a sound surface he’ll set a mighty standard for Faugheen and co to aim at. He should be favourite and 5/1 is great value.

With my race fan’s hat on I’d hoped More Of That would go chasing and when it was announced he’s stay hurdling, I got stuck into the 100/30 for the World Hurdle. He won a vintage renewal last season on just his 5th run and sets a very high benchmark. However, I’m beginning to regret jumping in – he’s clearly not easy to train and Jonjo has been talking about ‘keeping him in one piece.’ In retrospect 3/1 looks about right.

There aren’t too many to fancy, though it’s the sort of the race where the winner can be unfindable at this stage, (like the last two winners More Of That and Solwhit.) At Fishers Cross (14/1) was plagued by problems last year and so might be a different proposition with a clear run. The two I like though are Beat That (12/1) and Briar Hill (10/1). Nicky Henderson’s dual novice Grade 1 winning hurdler looks a lovely prospect but Briar Hill is in danger of being a forgotten horse.

It’s worth remembering that he was the Mullins yard’s nap for the Festival last season, (ahead of Vautour and Faugheen,) before falling early on in the Albert Bartlett. He’d given the Albert Bartlett winner Very Wood 10lb and 3rd Apache Jack 7lb – and beaten them comfortably in a 2m4f Grade 2 at Naas. Very Wood obviously improved for the stiffer test at Cheltenham but it’s not hard to imagine Briar Hill winning the Albert Bartlett easily if he’d jumped round.

Stamina shouldn’t be a problem, (won a point,) and the recent vibes from Closutton were very strong. If More Of That gets there in one piece he’ll be a formidable opponent but Briar Hill also looks a top notcher in the making and he could easily arrive at Cheltenham with a string of 1s in his form, as there isn’t currently much opposition in Ireland in the division. That’s likely to help shorten up his price, a key criteria for any ante-post bet.

I put up Ma Filleule, for the King George at 33/1 the other day - the rationale for the bet is here. From an acca point of view, that’s not done the King George price any favours. However, I genuinely think she should be about 8/1 so I’m happy to include her at 20/1. As with Balder Succes, timing is important - she runs tomorrow at Down Royal. Whilst I’m expecting her to need the run, if she were to bolt up, we’d have really missed the boat.

The 4 timer pays over 20,000/1:
Ma Filleule (King George) – 20/1
Jezki (Champion Hurdle) – 5/1
Balder Succes (Champion Chase) – 14/1
Briar Hill (World Hurdle) – 10/1

One of the key ways to derive value from accumulators is to bet on inter-dependent events, as I’ve described before. Normally that would be looking at 2 horses - eg stablemates who will avoid each other, or who both wanted a certain type of ground etc. Occasionally, you can back the same horse for two races. This works well when a good chunk of the price in both races is whether they are up to, (in this case,) Grade 1 class.

There are few ante-post opportunities to do this, (and some bookmakers won’t take such bets,) but the King George / Gold Cup double is one. A horse like Ma Filleule is a big price for both races because she’s unproven at championship level. In a double you’re effectively getting paid twice for that same risk – if she wins the King George she’ll be a short price for the Gold Cup – say 5/1.

5 of the last 12 King George winners have gone on to lift that season’s Gold Cup so it’s an excellent trial. I’m keener on her King George chances as I think 3m is ideal for her at this stage. She’s only 6 though and horses like Kicking King and War Of Attrition ran in the Arkle, and Kauto Star ran in the Champion Chase - as 6 year olds, before winning the Gold Cup at 7, so I’d be optimistic she’ll get up the hill.

Betting with the bookies that allow King George and Gold Cup accumulators on the same horse - the 5 timer pays just over 540,000/1. With the maximum payout of £1m, you could become a millionaire for less than a £2 stake.

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Cheltenham Countdown

The best Cheltenham Festival blog on the planet returns for 2015!

Over the past three years our National Hunt expert Matt Tombs has held our hands on the road to the Cheltenham Festival, with analysis and bets through the season, but the main focus being on the four days in March that brings the racing world together.

Matt has turned a profit every year, and in 2014 ante-post bets on Jezki (12/1) and Balthazar King (33/1) ensured it was another successful Festival. View the archive of years past at 2014, 2013 and 2012.

You can also follow and contact Matt on Twitter.

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Cheltenham Portfolio:

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Bentelimar - Supreme Novices - 0.5pts e/w 50/1 - U/P

Un De Sceaux - Arkle - 1pt 6/1 - WON

Smashing - Arkle w/o Un De Sceaux - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Arctic Fire - Champion Hurdle - 1pt e/w 33/1 NRNB - 2nd

Polly Peachum - Mares Hurdle - 1pt e/w 10/1 NRNB - 2nd

Cause Of Causes - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 8/1 NRNB - WON

Wounded Warrior - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 10/1 - N/R

Vroum Vroum Mag - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - N/R

Cocktails At Dawn - Novices Handicap Chase - 1pt 16/1 NRNB - U/P

Jarry D'Honneur - Novices Handicap Chase - 1pt 16/1 NRNB - N/R

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Nichols Canyon - Neptune Novices - 1pt 6/1 NRNB - 3rd

Arbre De Vie - Neptune Novices - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - N/R

Champagne West - RSA Chase - 1pt 16/1 - N/R

Valseur Lido - RSA Chase - 1pt 10/1 NRNB - N/R

Simply Ned - Champion Chase - 1pt e/w 33/1 - U/P

Sire Collonges - Cross Country - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Moon Racer - Champion Bumper - 1pt 12/1 - WON

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Apache Stronghold - JLT - 1pt 16/1 - 2nd

Caid Du Berlais - Ryanair Chase - 1pt 25/1 - N/R

Un Temps Pour Tout - World Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Whisper - World Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - U/P

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Rich Coast - County Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - U/P

Shantou Bob - Albert Bartlett - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Martello Tower - Albert Bartlett - 1pt 12/1 - WON

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

Smad Place - Gold Cup - 1pt e/w 25/1 NRNB - U/P

Current Event - Foxhunter Chase - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

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15 or more - Total Irish Winners - 1pt 9/1 - Lost

Mullins treble - Novice Hurdles - 1pt 20/1 - Lost

Fred Winter - Longest Winning SP Race - 1pt 20/1 - Lost

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Other bets:

Shanahan's Turn - Novice Handicap Chase - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Pearlysteps - Champion Hunters Chase - 1pt 9/1 - 3rd

Rivage D'Or - La Touche Cup - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Lots Of Memories - World Series Hurdle - 1pt e/w 40/1 - U/P

Ballynagour - Punchestown Gold Cup - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

No More Heroes - Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle - 1pt 10/3 - U/P

Ange D'Or Javilex - Martinstown Handicap Hurdle - 1pt 40/1 - U/P

Modus - Champion INH Flat Race - 1pt 5/1 - 3rd

Valseur Lido - Growise Novice Chase - 1pt 9/1 - WON

Mallowney - Boylesports Champion Chase - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Saint Are - Grand National - 1pt 33/1 - 2nd

Corrin Wood - Grand National - 1pt 100/1 - U/P

Cole Harden - Liverpool Hurdle - 1pt 11/4 - 2nd

Nichols Canyon - Mersey Novices Hurdle - 1pt 7/2 - WON

Sizing Granite - Maghull Novices Chase - 1pt 6/1 - WON

Simply Ned - Melling Chase - 1pt 22/1 - U/P

Carraig Mor - Mildmay Novices Chase - 1pt 14/1 - 2nd

Roi Des Francs - Sefton Novices Hurdle - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Blue Heron - Aintree Hurdle - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Silviniaco Conti - Aintree Bowl - 1pt 3/1 - WON

Dresden - Red Rum Chase - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Neverownup - Fox Hunter Chase - 1pt 40/1 - U/P

Wicklow Brave - Betfair Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Houblon Des Obeaux - Denman Chase - 1pt 10/3 - 2nd

On His Own - Irish Hennessy - 1pt 7/2 - U/P

Apache Stronghold - Flogas Novice Chase - 1pt 5/1 - WON

Un Temps Pour Tout - Cleeve Hurdle - 1pt 11/4 - 3rd

Robinsfirth - Classic Novice Hurdle - 1pt 8/1 - U/P

Arctic Fire - Irish Champion Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - 2nd

Twinlight - Clarence House Chase - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Katie T - Boylesports Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - WON

Lord Windermere - Lexus Chase - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Dedigout - Leopardstown Xmas Hurdle - 1pt 33/1 - U/P

Le Vent d'Antan - Beginners' Chase - 1pt 3/1 - WON

Al Ferof - King George - 1pt 6/1 - 3rd

Purple Bay - Christmas Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 - 2nd

Simply Ned - Dial-a-Bet Chase - 1pt 10/1 - 3rd

Corrin Wood - Rowland Meyrick - 1pt 8/1 - 3rd

Ma Filleule - King George - 2pts 33/1 - N/R

Hello George - Ladbroke - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Caid Du Berlais - December Gold Cup - 1pt 7/2 - U/P

Zamdy Man - International Hurdle - 1pt e/w 12/1 - U/P

Dodging Bullets - Tingle Creek - 1pt 10/1 - WON

Irish Saint - Henry VIII - 1pt 13/8 - U/P

Ma Filleule - Betfred Chase - 1pt 9/4 - U/P

Benny's Mist - Grand Sefton - 1pt 12/1 - 3rd

Rocky Creek - Hennessy Gold Cup - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Aurore D'Estruval - Fighting Fifth - 1pt 4/1 - 2nd

Real Steel - Drinmore - 1pt 12/1 - 3rd

Tandem - Royal Bond - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Menorah - Betfair Chase - 1pt 9/1 - 2nd

Zamdy Man - Price Rush Hurdle - 1pt 25/1 - 2nd

Caid Du Berlais - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 16/1 - WON

Sausalito Sunrise - Club Novices Chase - 1pt 3/1 - 2nd

Simply Ned - Shloer Chase - 1pt 9/4 - 2nd

Regal Encore - Greatwood Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Jezki - Morgiana Hurdle - 1pt 4/5 - 2nd