After the cold snap starved racing fanatics of top-class racing over the Christmas period punters soon turned their attention to the 2011 Cheltenham Festival ante post markets.
The meeting is rapidly approaching and the excitement ahead of the showpiece is reflected on the exchanges with Betfair users beginning to put their money where their mouth is.
With so many sensational races in such a short space of time – the Festival represents one of those times of the year where punters can down tools and sit in front of the TV and computer and enjoy the spectacle of horse racing at its finest.
Cheltenham betting is frenetic and the exchanges see odds tumbling and drifting every second as fans find other fans who'll give them the prices they want on horses.
The ante post markets for the Festival are equally as volatile and with so much money matched on each event, it is vital to take a look at the markets in-depth to see where the money is heading and to stay one step ahead of your everyday punter. With whispers about injuries and setbacks lodging in the back of the serious punter’s mind, some of the Festival’s leading fancies are prone to shorten or drift rapidly at any point between now and their race.
The 2011 Gold Cup market continues to gather momentum and with so many horses in with a chance heading into this year’s Festival, it’s hard to remember a year that entertained such an open market.
The domination of Kauto Star and Denman in the ‘Blue Riband’ event was ended by Imperial Commander in 2010 and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ stable star is 5.1 (4.1/1) to defend his title in two months time. Of the £471,384 matched on the prestigious race, Imperial Commander is responsible for over £90,000 of the action and punters that managed to back the horse at odds of 16.00 (15/1) will be happy to see that the superstar is on course for another trip to the Cheltenham Festival.
It isn’t hard to see why the defending champion remains favourite for the race, but the King George VI Chase at Kempton has sent exchange punters into overdrive after Nicky Henderson’s Long Run finally lived up to his hype and ended Kauto Star’s dreams of a fifth consecutive success in the race. Long Run can now be backed at 7.6 having touched 60.00 earlier in the year and while there remain doubts over how well he is suited to Cheltenham in comparison with Kempton, he is sure to demand the interest of punters in the build up to the race.
On the other hand, Kauto Star has taken a walk in the market after his defeat and there must be question marks surrounding Paul Nicholls’ superstar. Available to back at 10.00, he had been as low as 3.00 at one point and is responsible for almost a quarter of the money traded on the race. It would not be the strangest thing that has happened if he bounced back to form and won the race and his odds would be a lot shorter on the day.
2008 Gold Cup winner Denman is another horse at the head of the betting and the Nicholls inmate will be looking to go one better after finishing runner-up in 2009 and 2010. ‘The Tank’ looked as hungry as ever when battling to a place in the Hennessy Gold Cup and odds of 9.6 could look very generous if he arrives at Cheltenham in the same mood.
His Hennessy conqueror Diamond Harry is available to back at 12.00, while Lexus Chase hero Pandorama is as low as 17.00 after the classy hurdle recruit stormed to victory over the Christmas period. Trainer Noel Meade has warned that Pandorama will only take his chance if the ground is soft and punters that managed to back the horse at 150.00 will be looking to the skies and praying for rain.