Ceebee looks at some special bets for Cheltenham and he is taking big prices on Ireland winning the Betbright Prestbury Cup and Paul Townend to be Top Jockey.
I've backed Ireland to claim the BetBright Prestbury Cup. I’m pretty sure it’s not just foolish patriotic punting but I’ve gone through my fancies for every one of the 28 races and I fancy a hell of a lot of Irish horses!
Initial thoughts would be the Irish challenge is weak with Willie Mullins not having a dominating team on paper with stars like Min, Faugheen and Annie power on the injured list whilst they also lost Vautour this year. But others like Henry De Bromhead, Noel Meade and more obviously Gordon Elliott are having terrific seasons and bring that strong form with them this week.
The two mares’ races and Queen Mother will definitely go to the green team with the bumper, 4miler and Cross Country challenges very strong as well. Add in On The Fringe and Death Duty as well. In my opinion one of the UK Bankers Uniwhatimeanharry faces a real strong, three pronged, Irish challenge. If Might Bite does disappoint in the RSA as many predict it could easily be an Irish horse collecting. Even some Irish favourites who appear vulnerable like Melon, Un De Sceaux and Yorkhill have back up in the shape of Bunk off Early, Empire of Dirt and Disko. In the Gold Cup I prefer Djakadam to both the UK Tizzard trained runners.
2pt win Ireland to win Prestbury Cup at 7/2 with Betway
Bryan Cooper has a lot of chances. No absolute good things like the way Ruby has Douvan but in the likes of Death Duty, Alpha des Obeaux, Empire of Dirt, Petit Mouchoir, Tombstone, Apples Jade and Outlander he has the potential to knock in 4 winners which could be enough this year. Ok Ruby had 7 last year but 3 times in last 9 Festivals a total of 3 winners was enough. Gigginstown potentially have some good handicap chase chances in Road to Respect and Balko des Flos although neither have target race confirmed yet.
I think Ruby is vulnerable because there's no guarantee he'll ride the best Mullins horse in the Supreme or either mares hurdle. Willie could win top trainer but Ruby get pipped for top jock.
With that in mind I also wouldn't put anyone off having a few shillings on Paul Townend. He could easily ride the best Mullins horse in the Supreme, Mares hurdle and Mares novice hurdle. He'll get some decent handicap mounts for team Rebecca Curtis too and if anything happens Ruby the Douvan and Yorkhill rides would make him favourite here.
1pt win Bryan Cooper at 10/1 with Ladbrokes
0.5pt win Paul Townend at 40/1 with Paddy Power, Skybet and Betway