Even in the midst of the flat season, it’s hard for some punters to lose sight of their main love – the National Hunt campaign.
As you would expect, the leading bookmakers already have a number of key meetings priced up ahead of the 2021/22 term, and chief among them are the ante-post odds for the Cheltenham Festival.
All of the big races have already been priced up, and while any decisions on declarations are a long, long way off right now, there are some horses that look perfectly primed to be backed in the ante-post market – form and injuries notwithstanding.
With that in mind, here are five selections to consider in the Cheltenham Festival ante-post horse racing betting odds.
Honeysuckle (Arkle Chase)
The two queens of Cheltenham, Honeysuckle and Racheal Blackmore, could combine once again in 2022.
This time, they might have their sights on chasing glory, with the possibility of leaving hurdling behind now very real given that Henry De Bromhead has hinted at such.
A two-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival already, March’s romp in the Champion Hurdle only added fuel to the fire that Honeysuckle could emulate the achievements of Dawn Run.
If she does, expect the 20/1 available in the Arkle Chase market – plus the 16/1 you can find in the Mares’ Chase – to disappear in the blink of an eye.
Allaho (Champion Chase)
There will be plenty of head-scratching amongst the Cheveley Park Stud fraternity this summer.
They have a trio of elite horses in their ranks – Allaho, A Plus Tard and Envoi Allen, and they must plot how they can keep them apart and maximise their returns.
For Allaho, stepping down in trip – as he has done already – might be the best way to avoid his stablemates, and besides he has shown a tremendous turn of speed that could be best utilised at the two-mile mark.
A dominant victor in the Ryanair Chase in March, next season may just showcase Allaho’s incredible pace and secure Willie Mullins a first ever Champion Chase triumph.
Bob Olinger (Marsh Chase)
Will Bob Olinger go chasing next season or stay over hurdles?
De Bromhead has hinted that it might be the former, believing the six-year-old to be ‘built like a chaser and jumps like one’.
If that’s the plan, then the Marsh Chase looks to be the perfect target for a horse that delivered one of the most impressive performances of the 2021 Festival, downing a decent field by some seven lengths in the Ballymore.
A winner on heavy ground, Bob Olinger is a versatile campaigner that could prove to be an excellent ante-post selection given his all-conditions ability.
Kilcruit (Ballymore Novices Hurdle)
At this moment in time, Kilcruit is featuring prominently in the betting for both the Supreme and the Ballymore Novices Hurdle, and it’s perhaps the latter where he holds most appeal given Sir Gerhard’s presence in the former.
Mullins is no mug when it comes to targeting his elite horses at the event of course, and the feeling is that Kilcruit – who ran well in the Champion Bumper in 2021 before succumbing to his stablemate – might be a better bet for the Ballymore.
The manner in which the six-year-old finished the Champion Bumper suggests there’s more in the tank, and a step up in trip to the Ballymore’s 2m 5f might just be the tonic he needs.
Champ (Stayers’ Hurdle)
Nicky Henderson possesses one of the sharpest minds in racing, and it will not have been lost on him that Champ really does struggle over the big fences in quality company.
But he certainly won’t be writing off the former RSA Chase winner, and while Champ is comfortable at the three-mile mark thanks to his incredible stamina, a switch back to hurdles might be the savvy move.
As such, a tilt at the Stayers’ Hurdle might be a slightly surprising outcome of such conclusions, and at 25/1 in the ante-post market for that race, there does seem to be scope for a sensible bet on the nine-year-old.
Of course, ante-post markets can make fools of us all, but this quintet surely have chances to fulfil their early promise.