Tony Calvin: A Daring double-figure antepost Festival bet

Are you tempted by Who Dares Wins at Cheltenham?
Are you tempted by Who Dares Wins at Cheltenham?
  • vs

Tony Calvin picks the bones out of Cheltenham's Trials Day action and has a big-priced recommendation for one of the big races coming up at next month's Festival...

"I want Who Dares Wins on my side at Cheltenham on a better surface (hopefully) and given a stronger, more even, pace for this fast-ground 1m6f Flat winner. He jumped really slickly at the weekend."

Plenty to chew on after Cheltenham Festival Trials Day last Saturday, and surprisingly few horses to spit out of March calculations despite some high-profile reverses.

And that is how it should be, with last weekend's heavy ground a world away from the conditions we are likely to encounter at the Festival - it is due to stop raining soon, isn't it? - and the resulting high-tempo nature of all the races completely different to these slogs through the winter mud.

Djakadam lost Gold Cup favouritism after his spill, and that was predictable enough. After all, that was his second fall in three starts at the track, and the minor chest cut he suffered hardly makes for an ideal preparation from hereon in. But it is clearly far too early to be writing off last year's Gold Cup runner-up, for all that I have never really warmed to his chances of going one better.

Vautour now heads the Gold Cup market at 5.69/2 - good news for those who have taken the 7-1 Non Runner No Bet (NRNB) about him for the race - but the victory of Smad Place on Saturday was actually not the best result for his backers.

The King George runner-up promised to have an easy lead on the Friday of the Festival, but with Smad Place now re-routed from the Ryanair, the new favourite now has a guaranteed pace rival. Not an insurmountable problem by any means, but not ideal.

Vautour and Smad Place have dominated the Ryanair market for a while and that market is going to be very interesting once all bookmakers switch to NRNB, as obviously that pair aren't going to line up now.

Without those two, it is an incredibly open race with any number of potential winners, though Road To Riches would be a strong favourite for the 2m5f race were his owners - who already have Don Cossack and Don Poli for the Gold Cup - to decide to go down the easier route.

However, he is a short-priced jolly for the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday and the subject of bullish reports from his trainer, and a win there probably would cement his place on the Friday at Cheltenham, as opposed to 24 hours earlier.

We will revisit the Ryanair in coming weeks once all the NRNB boys come out to play - and talking of which there is talk that a certain girl, namely Vroum Vroum Mag, hasn't yet been ruled out of the race just days after being earmarked for the World Hurdle by connections.

Sometimes ante-post betting hurts your head - and tests your patience.

I was on RUK when Ivanovich Gorbatov beat the then-Triumph Hurdle favourite Let's Dance on the other channel at Leopardstown in December, and the winner was as big as 14-1 immediately after the race.

However, he is now only 3.7511/4 on the exchange despite having not raced since, though the form of that race has obviously worked out very well.

He will go even shorter again if he lines up and beats Let's Dance again in the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday but I have to press up on Who Dares Wins for the Triumph at 26.025/1 or bigger.

I have already recommended the horse at 20-1 each way for the race here, but I can't resist going in again at 25-1+, even though the 33-1 in a couple of places immediately after his fourth on Saturday was quickly snapped up (there is plenty of 25-1 in the marketplace, though).

Sure, he disappointed me on Saturday.

But my fears about his suitability to heavy ground - it was officially that going when he won at Doncaster previously, but apparently it wasn't that testing there by all accounts - were probably borne out, and the weekend times suggest that he and Clan Des Obeaux slit each other's throats by going at it from a long way out. And he raced a bit too keenly, too.

He was giving the winner 7lb and the runner-up 3lb, so he officially came out the best horse at the weights, anyway. And that was with two genuine excuses, maybe three. I want him on my side at Cheltenham on a better surface (hopefully) and given a stronger, more even, pace for this fast-ground 1m6f Flat winner. He jumped really slickly at the weekend.

Frodon caught my eye as a possible for the Fred Winter after his third in the last at Cheltenham and, as I tweeted as much immediately after the race, I may as well mention him here. But let's wait for the weights, and the market to form properly, before getting involved.

And before we move on to the other weekend races, it could be premature to write off the Doncaster disappointments of Willie Mullins on Saturday, as he reckoned that his trio may have picked up a chill on the ferry. Could be nonsense or wishful thinking, but I am more forgiving than most about Up For Review, though the paddock judges think that he needs soft ground.

The Deloitte is the other Grade 1 hurdle in Ireland this Saturday, but I have no idea about running plans and I am not sure what is going to rock up in the weekend ante-post markets over here either, to be honest.

The only Grade 1 action on this side of the sea is the Scilly Isles Novice Chase and Tea For Two and More Of That dominated the betting when one firm priced it up on Monday night.

But, as I said earlier, definitive running plans are hard to ascertain - indeed, it looks like More Of That is a likely no-show given his retained jockey is needed in Ireland - and the betting could look very different depending on which of the Mullins' quintet run, or indeed Bristol De Mai, in fact.

To be honest, none of the weekend ante-post races float my boat, with the Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown quickly filed under "too tricky, probable runners hard to find, let alone the winner" and the same is true of the Welsh Champion Hurdle.

Either way, given both courses are already heavy and Storm Henry is still strutting his stuff, this weekend's racing could even make last Saturday at Uttoxeter - the card featured a "finished alone" in the 9-runner 3m handicap chase, in which the other eight pulled up - seem like the wooden floor in the hallway.

The spread on the number of "Somme-like conditions" comments uttered by presenters and pundits at Ffos Las is currently 28-31.

Look for a horse who floats.

Recommended Bets

Back Who Dares Wins at 26.025/1 for the Triumph Hurdle


Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open your account today using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn - £/€20 Back in cash if your bet loses
Bet Now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles