Paul Ferguson has four selections for us from the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday including a couple of each way savers. | Compare odds and bet.
Hugely impressive in the Neptune a year ago Faugheen (3:20) is fancied to step up to the plate and land the feature on the opening day of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, the Stan James Champion Hurdle.
People have knocked his form, but Blue Heron (beaten 17 lengths) advertised his Christmas Hurdle victory in the Kingwell last month and the seven-year-old is taken to maintain his 100% record under Ruby Walsh, who looks set for a massive day.
Earlier on the card Walsh will be aboard Douvan (1:30) in the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, who was trading at 2-1 overnight.
Two from two since arriving from France, the son of Walk In The Park looked another potential star for the Willie Mullins yard at Punchestown last time and he can get things off to the best possible start for the all-conquering stable.
In the same race, his stable-mate Shaneshill could go well at double-figure odds, while second favourite L’Ami Serge is the clear pick of the English trained horses.
Available at 7-2 overnight, he can be backed at 9-4 in the market without Douvan (Bet Victor) and that looks more than fair.
In the Arkle, Walsh will be aboard Un De Sceaux (2:05) who looks a class apart from his 10 rivals.
He won the Irish Arkle in breathtaking fashion by 15 lengths and, if you don’t fancy taking the odds (hopefully will touch 4-5 which I believe to be fair) you can take 5-2 about him winning by more than 8 lengths (Boylesports) or 5-1 (Hills) to win by over 11 lengths. I really think this could be a wide-margin victory, if he gets into an early rhythm.
If you are looking for an each-way alternative Court Minstrel could be over-priced at 33-1 with Stan James (14-1 in the market without Un De Sceaux), especially if we’ve had a dry Monday evening.
A course-and-distance winner earlier in the season, Evan Williams’ head-strong eight-year-old will relish the strong pace set by the market leader and could pick off several of his rivals in the closing stages – he will be ridden similarly to Vibrato Valtat, who is just 6-1 and there would appear too much disparity in those prices to me.
Finally, Walsh can complete a magical four-timer aboard Annie Power (4:00) in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.
Not seen since last May, last year’s World Hurdle second is, quite frankly, in a different league to her counterparts and, assuming she is ready to do herself justice, she will take the world of beating. She was trading at 4-6 overnight.
Elsewhere on the card, I backed Pendra at much bigger odds in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase, but the value has dried up and I couldn’t advise backing him at around 6-1 – hopefully some of you read my column in Racing Ahead and were able to get on at 25s.
Hopefully tomorrow will offer us the opportunity to back a few at bigger odds, but in the meantime I have offered a couple of alternatives to the four short priced favourites. Enjoy day one!
3:20 Cheltenham Festival: Faugheen; 5/4 Skybet
4:00 Cheltenham Festival: Annie Power; 4/6 Betvictor
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- £359.70 profit to a level stake £10
- Iinc Cheltenham winners Faugheen, Very Wood (33/1) & O’Faolains Boy