With less than a week to go until this year's Cheltenham Festival, we caught up with Niall O'Reilly from the Betfair trading team to see where the money is going and who to back and who to avoid...
"Envoi Allen is probably the pick of the Irish, and it will be exciting to see how he goes in the Marsh Novices Chase on his first start for Henry De Bromhead."
Who is currently the most well-supported horse heading to the Festival?
Bob Olinger in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle currently ranks as our worst result from our Antepost markets. He was backed at big prices early in the season, though we have seen sustained support over the last week, backed from 7/2 into 5/2 favourite.
He was the subject of a big mention at a recent preview night, which may or may not have driven this most recent move, though we found it difficult to be confident in taking him on given our overall liability.
Who will be the top jockey? Where's the value pick away from the top of the market?
Paul Townend will obviously be very difficult to beat given the firepower at his disposal. He correctly heads our market at 1/3. At bigger prices I thought Nico De Boinville (10/1) and Harry Skelton (25/1) were two I'd consider backing against Townend. The latter has had an incredible season so far and looks to have decent book of rides for the week.
Which of the Irish raiders heading over should we be looking out for?
I could name any amount of them. Envoi Allen is probably the pick of them, and it will be exciting to see how he goes in the Marsh Novices Chase on his first start for Henry De Bromhead. Of the others, Appreciate It is a horse I'm really looking forward to seeing in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.
He's dominated the 2-mile division in Ireland and looks set to go off a deserving short price favourite, I think he'll confirm the confidence behind him. Another horse I'm excited to see is Sir Gerhard in the bumper, who recently switched to Willie Mullins stable. He has shown himself to be a horse of immense potential in two starts in Ireland and it'll be interesting to see how he gets on.
Who are we prepared to take on?
We don't tend to decide that until after we get final declarations, as it's difficult to form a very strong opinion before that. It has the look of a dangerous year to me from a bookmaker's perspective, with a lot of the favourites looking extremely solid in their respective races. One I'd be keen to take on is Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup.
He's a very good horse though the form of last years Gold Cup is quite weak, and I think he could be up against it to retain his crown this year. Energumene and Goshen on day 1 would be two we might look to take on, with the latter a horse that has proven hugely popular with our customers on all his starts.
What's the worst result for us?
Currently it's Bob Olinger, though that liability would pale in comparison to what we could end up having on multiples if all the favourites start going in on any given day. If Willie Mullins has a big week, we could also be up against it, as punters tend to latch on to combinations of his horses each day, normally to some success!
And finally, the Gold Cup - where's the money going?
There's been quite a good spread of cash overall on the race. Our early liability was on Royale Pagaille, who we laid at 50/1 after his win at Kempton and then 16/1 directly after he won at Haydock. Since then the support has been for the two Nicky Henderson horses, Champ and Santini, with the former having been well supported since an excellent return to action at Newbury on Betfair Hurdle day.