Cheltenham Festival 2018 Betting Preview: The view from the Betfair trading floor

Ruby Walsh riding Un De Sceaux
Un De Sceaux v Cue Card in the Ryanair Chase

With less than a week to go until the start of the Cheltenham, Dan Collins of the Betfair trading team provides the answers to some key Festival questions and gives his best bets...

"If Douvan lines up then Ruby would surely have to ride him. He is unlikely to run unless connections think he will do himself justice, and could Ruby really watch somebody else win on him?"

The Day 1 four-fold is sure to be popular (Getabird, Footpad, Buveur Dair, Apples Jade), how do you rate your chances of getting at least one beat?

If the first two go in there will be some nervous faces in the Race Room, however they do have some very credible opposition, particularly Footpad in the Arkle. Buveur D'air and Apples Jade both look very tough to beat so hopefully we aren't staring down the barrel come the Mares'.

Samcro will carry the 'Irish Banker' tag this year, will he deliver?

The Ballymore is shaping up to be an absolute cracker with Next Destination, who would be a short-priced favourite himself in any other year, looking likely to run here as well as a couple of top English novices. He will have to be as good as his fans think to come out on top and at present I would be leaning towards opposing him.

Should Ruby ride Douvan or Min? And can either topple Altior?

If Douvan lines up then Ruby would surely have to ride him. He is unlikely to run unless connections think he will do himself justice, and could Ruby really watch somebody else win on him? Having said that Altior would be a tough nut to crack even without his injury problems, and as for Min I cannot see how he reverses the Supreme form of two years ago.

The ground looks to playing into Sam Spinner's hands in the Stayers, is he the obvious one?

The recent inclement weather has been a bit of a double-edged sword for Jedd O'Keeffe as whilst it has increased the chances of softer ground it has also meant he has been unable to use the gallops in Middleham over the past week. It would be a fantastic story for a smaller yard to land such a prize but I do think he will find a couple too good for him on the day.

Two fan favourites will square off in the Ryanair - Un De Sceaux v Cue Card. Do they have it between them?

These two horses epitomise everything that National Hunt fans love about the sport. To have been at the top for so long is a credit to all involved and it would be fantastic to see them both fighting out a finish. However Waiting Patiently announced himself on the big stage in a massive way at Ascot last month and if connections decide to take their chance I think his younger legs will come out on top.

Who ticks the right boxes this year in the Gold Cup?

It has been a very peculiar year with most trials throwing up more questions than answers. Might Bite was one of the few to enhance his claims over Christmas but even in doing so was less impressive than many hoped, and coupled with his shenanigans in last year's RSA he is hardly bombproof. Sizing John ticked all the boxes last year and if he is over his Leopardstown blip he could be the answer once more.

Festival Betting Top Tip

Don’t be afraid of a big price, particularly in the handicaps with the last favourite to have obliged being Fingal Bay in the 2014 Pertemps Final.

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