Notable Cheltenham Outsiders

Mullins unsure on Melon struggles

The Cheltenham Festival is only six weeks away and now the ante post markets on the biggest betting week in racing are getting very competitive.

While the majority of bets naturally go on the hot favourites in each of the 28 races, long-shots have done some damage at the festival and horse racing bookies are known to have more volatile profits or losses due to outsiders in big events.

Last year there were winners at 20/1, 28/1, 50/1 twice and even 66/1 so given that we know such underdogs can and do win it would be nice to grab a slice of the action and with that, we take a look at some potentially lively outsiders for the feature race on each day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Champion Hurdle

While Epatante heads the market at just 11/4 in a place, we could do worse than take a second look at three-time Grade 1 winner Sharjah of Willie Mullins’ yard.  We’ll never know what he would have achieved in last year’s race given that he was brought down, but at 10/1 he certainly represents some good value given that he’s a proven top-level performer in a race that lacks quality.

Nicky Henderson already heads the market but it could be that his Call Me Lord (18/1) is a better option over this trip, while with plenty of options on the table should Gordon Elliott allow his unbeaten Envoi Allen a crack at the race then his current quotes of 14/1 could look very silly come March 10th.

Champion Chase

Defi Du Seuil is a warm order for this race now at 2/1 but his latest win at Ascot showed him to be a horse that needs a test of stamina and as such, he may just be poor value despite boasting the best form.

Labelled as an Ascot specialist, Paul Nicholls’ Cyrname has never been tried at Cheltenham but there’s no reason why he wouldn’t like it.  Boasting some top-class form including a defeat of Altior, his price of up to 25/1 is a steal each-way, while his stablemate Politologue (33/1) has the form to go close and Amy Murphy’s Grade 1 winner Kalashnikov is no forlorn hope at 100/1.

Stayers’ Hurdle

Paisley Park is the big dog here but he doesn’t always win by far, leaving the door open.  Summerville Boy has found his hurdling mojo and got close last time in the Cleeve Hurdle which makes him decent value at 10/1, while Champ would perhaps not be far away at 16/1 if reverting to hurdles.

We shouldn’t forget Laurina either at 18/1, the mare having been improving for going up in trip this time last year before bombing out in the two-mile Champion Hurdle.

Gold Cup

Cotswold Chase winner Santini is now a best-priced 7/1 for the Gold Cup with major firms, though he is as short as 11/2 in places ahead of Lostintranslation at 7/1 and behind the Willie Mullins pair of Kemboy (13/2) and Al Boum Photo, last year’s winner, who is a general 4/1.

Bigger priced Gold Cup winners have been known though so don’t rule out last year’s favourite Presenting Percy at 10/1 given that he’ll be fitter for this year’s assignment.

Even more attractive at 33/1 is Willie Mullins’ Real Steel assuming he gets the trip, while for an each-way punt you could argue backing Bristol De Mai is actually playing it safe given that he always runs to Grade 1 level and was third in this race last year, he’s a huge 40/1 now.


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