THE 2022 Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching and we are starting to get a feel for how the markets for the meeting’s top races may shake out.
Some feel like unattractive punting propositions already – anyone want to take on odds-on favourite Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle?
That said, there is plenty of value to be found elsewhere and it’s time to start properly filling out those ante-post portfolios.
There will be hits and misses, with key meetings in the run up to the Festival and with almost inevitable injuries to contend with.
But all being well, we’ll make it to the start with a few healthy ante-post positions.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL ANTE-POST PORTFOLIO
Call Me Lord
25/1 with Sky Bet
Cobbler’s Dream was an impressive winner of the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday but it was the run of third-placed Call Me Lord which alerted my Festival senses.
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The race was controlled off a steady pace from the front, with the two horses that made the running coming home first and second.
The only held-up runner to get even close was Call Me Lord, who picked up well without threatening the leading pair to finish a staying-on third.
I immediately thought the Coral Cup looked the perfect race for him and was delighted to see firms offering a tasty 25/1 about him for the 2m5f handicap hurdle.
Call Me Lord’s days of being competitive in the top Graded races appear to be behind him but he still retains enough class to go close in a race of this nature at the Festival.
Once rated in the mid-160s and a Grade 2 winner in his pomp, he ran off 144 at Kempton on Saturday and is unlikely to go up again between now and March, provided Nicky Henderson doesn’t run him again.
If that’s the case, I think he’d be seriously well handicapped for a race in which he would have a much stronger pace to aim at than he got in the Lanzarote.
His profile reminds me to some degree of William Henry, who won the 2019 Coral Cup as a nine-year-old for Henderson.
He was a classy hurdler in his younger days and won the Lanzarote as an eight-year-old before going on to take the Coral Cup the following season.
Call Me Lord is now at the same age and after career novice chasing, I think he looks perfectly placed to snare a big festival prize for a trainer who has won two of the last three Coral Cups.
Bets already advised
Allegorie De Vassy (Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle)
1pt win at 7-1 with Bet365
Shishkin (Queen Mother Champion Chase) 11/10
Honeysuckle (Champion Hurdle) 4/5
Galopin Des Champs (Festival Novices’ Chase) 7/4
1pt treble at combined odds of 8/1 with Paddy Power
Sir Gerhard (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
1pt win at 5/1 with Paddy Power
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