The Follow The Money team round up the highs of what was a fantastic Cheltenham for the ante-post markets and already look forward to next year's Festival...
"Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power was backed as high as 350.0349/1 ante-post in our markets as the Champion Hurdle would have seemed an unlikely target for her before Faugheen's injury."
We have sadly reached the end of the road when it comes to our weekly Cheltenham round-ups and what a festival it turned out to be. A series of well backed favourites left the industry on the ropes, with most major bookmakers reporting significant loses.
Away from the sportsbooks a number of customers managed to get some fantastic ante-post prices about eventual winners on the exchange, and it is pleasing to see that there is still real advantages to be had from forming an early view.
Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power was backed as high as 350.0349/1 ante-post in our markets as the Champion Hurdle would have seemed an unlikely target for her before Faugheen's injury.
After last year's dramatic last flight fall Ruby Walsh came in for some heavy criticism in some quarters, and the fist pump as he crossed the line showed the raw emotion the slaying of the Mares' Hurdle demons provoked. Again this year she was well clear of the field and you could hear a pin drop as she approached the last, the rare Cheltenham silence being replaced with the legendary roar as she cleared the final flight in style.
Straight after Annie Power asserting her superiority stable companion Vroum Vroum Mag stayed on impressively to land the OLBG Mares' Hurdle. The superstar was one the focuses of our article at the end of January where she was readily available at 7.06/1 for the race due to some uncertainty around entries.
Heavily backed the night before and the morning of the race she returned a 1.910/11 BSP against an industry 4/6 and the only fright for supporters was a minor nudge before the third last. She was also the bet of the day for our sister tipping article Follow The Money that returned an impressive, if we might say so ourselves, seven point profit across the festival.
On the Wednesday the real story of the week developed, Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
His heart warming return to form transcended the usual pocket talking by punters and even those who had backed market principal Un Des Sceaux were cheering Sprinter back into the parade ring. Having looked ready for retirement a year ago he completed the fairytale by three and a half lengths and the roar as he jumped the last safely was enough to make the hairs on your neck stand up.
Matched as high as 70.069/1 for the race in our ante-post market he returned a BSP of 7.06/1 and those able to get on at the higher prices were rewarded with incredible value and will be hoping Nicky Henderson's pre festival comments that he would retire if Sprinter and My Tent Or Yours both won were merely said in jest.
Thistlecrack confirmed his position as one of the sports leading lights with a thumping success in the World Hurdle, leaving all of his rivals trailing in his wake. Backed all the way from 38.037/1 in to 2.6213/8 favourite ante-post, he now unsurprisingly heads up our 2017 World Hurdle market where he is 4.77/2, or for those who prefer a more speculative bet 11.010/1 in the Gold Cup market.
On the final day Don Cossack justified his favouritism to take the spoils in the Gold Cup repelling Djakadam by four and a half lengths. Some astute punters managed to get matched as high as 80.079/1 on the exchange ante-post in comparison to the returned BSP 3.35 and were perhaps slightly fortunate that the strong travelling Cue Card fell as the race was starting to develop.
Having won the Punchestown Gold Cup last year the race looks to be the next target after trainer Gordon Elliot said that Aintree is not in their plans, and for those looking for a longer term punt he is currently available in our ante-post market for the King George at 7.06/1.