CeeBee takes an early look at the ante post market for the County Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival 2015 and thinks that Arzal is a good value bet at 20/1.
Ante-post betting is risky at the best of times, betting ante-post on Cheltenham handicaps should come with a serious health warning. However it hasn’t stopped me having an early play. Anything with multiple entries is just too risky; I’ll only get involved where a horse has an obvious target and the price is very attractive. There’s a few I really like but most are unlikely to shorten in the coming days. One which might is:-
Arzal is also entered in the Supreme and Neptune novice hurdles but to me, barring accident, he’s almost certain to line up here. Rated 139 he has an awful lot to find to get involved in the top novice hurdles. He was also ridden by a 7lb claimer last time; he’ll be able to claim again if going down the handicap route.
The Betfair (Totesport/Schweppes call it what you want) Hurdle is a race that traditionally works out very well. Last year’s 2nd finished a close 5th in the Coral Cup. The previous year’s winner finished 2nd in the Supreme Hurdle. In both 2011 and 2012 the 2nd home filled the same spot in the Coral Cup. The horse to take from this year’s renewal was Arzal. He was badly hampered at the fourth hurdle, lost numerous lengths and dropped to last of the 24 runner field. He stayed on best of all to finish 6th beaten 14L. The first two home, even the first three, were all on the pace or very close to it. It was not a race where many got into it from the back and Arzal was left in an impossible position mid-way through the race. Calipto finished less than 2L in front of Arzal after a smoother passage yet is 10/1 favourite for the County Hurdle in some places. 20/1 about Arzal is too big (14/1 in places is more accurate). That was only Arzal’s fourth hurdle/career start and first in a big field handicap so plenty of improvement is likely.
Prior to Newbury he finished a 9L 3rd to Jollyallan at Kempton. Jollyallan has boosted that form since and now rated 151 goes to the Supreme with a live chance. Arzal was brushed aside easily enough but he was forced to make the pace that day and tee the race up for Jollyallan. It was still a decent run from a novice and 139 is a lenient enough mark. Past winners Lac Fontana and Ted Veale were both novices as were those who finished 2nd to them, Tennis Cap and Arctic Fire, so it’s definitely a race where the unexposed novice can triumph.
Quickly to some of those towards the head of the market:
Calipto is a quirky sort and had an easier passage than Arzal last time. Actival goes for the Coral Cup apparently.
Lac Fontana might also go there. He’s 12lbs higher than last year and has shown very little this season.
Quick Jack hasn’t jumped a hurdle in 14 months; it is only the history of his connections that are creating a false price.
Abbyssial fell at Cheltenham last year and also fell last time out so may go to Fairyhouse or France instead for his favoured soft ground.
Savello will probably go to the Grand Annual. Ted Veale is one I do like. He was an impressive winner of this race as a 6yo novice in 2013. He’ll probably be a stone higher this year but comes here in decent form having finished well from too far back in the Pierse/Boylesports hurdle last time.
Dell Arca is another who I could make a case for but with Martin Pipe and Coral Cup (5th last yr)
Recap - Advised Bet