The Road to Cheltenham: Thief steals the show at Punchestown

The 2017 Cheltenham Festival market moves are already gathering pace
The 2017 Cheltenham Festival market moves are already gathering pace

Our popular Road to Cheltenham series returns today, a weekly look at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival antepost markets, highlighting the movers and drifters following the previous week's news and racing...


"Disko was added to the RSA exchange market on Sunday but had already been in the JLT Chase market and received a little support, backed from 32.031/1 into 25.024/1 for the 2m4f Grade 1."

These days racing fans begin the talk about Cheltenham about five minutes after the Grand Annual is run on the Friday of the previous season's Festival.

Antepost betting has never been so popular especially with the lure of huge prices available on the Betfair Exchange. Last season the runaway World Hurdle winner Thistlecrack was available to back as high as 34.033/1 on the exchange earlier in the season, while the likes of Blaklion, Annie Power and Minella Rocco could all have been backed at fancy prices for their respective races as well.

Each week we will be reviewing each of the weekend's big market movers with an eye to the Festival. We will also be getting insight from our traders at Betfair Sportsbook.


Identity the early mover in the Arkle


Let's kick off with Identity Thief, who was already a horse to follow for many when it was announced he was going chasing. The 159-rated hurdler made his debut over fences at Punchestown on Saturday and although he had little to beat, he created enough of an impression to push his price into 12.5 for the Arkle from the 16.5 that was available prior to this weekend.

Brian Kearney from our Betfair Sportsbook team said "Identity Thief was clipped slightly for the Arkle from 12/1 to 10/1 following his impressive chase debut but only had to stand up to win was a very poor race."

Henry De Bromhead reported that Identity Thief's next run could be back at Punchestown for the Grade 2 Craddockstown Novice Chase.


Disko an early arrival at the JLT party


Alpha Des Obeaux was another Gigginstown-owned high-class hurdler making his debut over fences but he failed to make much of an impression at Thurles on Thursday. He jumped well and looked set to win well coming into the straight but he failed to put clear daylight between himself and his nearest rival and he will have to improve to contend in the best novice chases this season. He drifted a little in the RSA market and is now available to back at 11.521/2.

Noel Meade's Disko made more of an impression on his chasing debut. The six-year-old had his fair share of problems last season but has had a clear run so far this term and he made a winning start to his chasing career despite drifting in the market against a few useful yardsticks. Kearney said: "We were impressed with Disko and introduced him at 16/1 for the JLT Chase and the RSA Chase. Noel Meade mentioned that the 3m race could be his target."

Disko was added to the RSA exchange market on Sunday but had already been in the JLT Chase market and received a little support, backed from 32.031/1 into 25.024/1 for the 2m4f Grade 1.

In the same market Shantou Village also attracted a little support (40.039/1 into 27.026/1) after he won a decent 2m4f novice chase at Cheltenham on Saturday. Neil Mulholland's gelding had only three rivals to beat but did so in good style, staying on well to pull clear of Mick Thonic up the hill. He could be seen back at Cheltenham next month before he is put away for the winter ahead of the Festival.


Royal and Wholestone catch the eye


The Monet's Garden Old Roan Chase at Aintree was the big race of the weekend but it failed to produce any significant Festival market mover with the Colin Tizzard-trained Third Intention emerging victorious from the bottom of the handicap. Multiple Grade 1-winner Gods Own produced a pleasing display giving weight away to the winner in second.

Other horses to note were Sceau Royal who earned a quote of 16/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook for the Champion Hurdle after his impressive win in a conditions hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday and Wholestone who was introduced at 25/1 for the Albert Bartlett, after his win in a 3m novice hurdle on the same card.


Cheltenham Festival 2017 Antepost Movers

Identity Thief in from 16.5 to 12.5 for the Arkle Chase
Shantou Village in from 40.039/1 into 27.026/1 for the JLT Chase
Disko in from 32.031/1 into 25.024/1 for the JLT Chase


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