Ten Saturday races priced up on Betfair
Triumph trial is highlight at Cheltenham
But it's a messy weekend for punters says TC
The Betfair Sportsbook have gone above and beyond the call of duty by pricing up 10 weekend races - ITV look to be showing just seven on Saturday - so I'll start at Cheltenham in chronological order.
This is one hugely challenging weekend for trying to suss out likely runners, let alone winners, for reasons I will quickly come on to.
On Monday I dealt with Doncaster's Great Yorkshire Chase (we could get a maximum field of 20 on the day, and better prices and place terms) and the rescheduled Clarence House.
By the way, the Cheltenham going (which is currently good to soft, soft in places) hasn't been updated on the BHA site since 8.54am on Monday but the forecast for Saturday itself has improved, though there is a bit of rain around on Tuesday and Thursday.
The Triumph Hurdle Trial at 12:05 is potentially the best juvenile race we have seen in the 2023-24 season, here or in Ireland - and by some way, too - and it will be good to see at least one of the three Irish entries come over.
The owners of Leopardstown winner Intellotto declined the invitation to come over with El Fabiolo this weekend, so hopefully they will be bolder here, though it sounds like he too may be staying at home for the Dublin Racing Festival (he is entered in the Spring Hurdle on February 3).
However, you could argue his stablemate Cossack Chach and Gordon Elliott's filly Wodhooh have even better form claims at it stands. Wodhooh is also in a fillies' race under a 5lb penalty at Doncaster on Saturday, though.
They all have their work cut out with the Triumph favourite Burdett Road in the line-up, though his trainer has put him in the Unibet Hurdle later on the card as well.
Highly-regarded Kempton winner Sir Gino and Finale scorer Salver are also high up in the betting for March.
It promises to be an absolute belter and the Sportsbook have Burdett Road and Sir Gino as their 7/42.75 joint favourites. The former would undoubtedly be shorter but for that double entry.
The Sportsbook have priced up another non-ITV race in the shape of the Timeform novices' handicap chase at 12:40 and my interest pretty much ended when I saw the three I marked out as possibles before seeing the prices (Ginnys Destiny, Blow Your Wad and Es Perfecto) were put in at 4s, 4s and 7s respectively.
I know Railway Hurricane has a reputation of being a bit of a twicer (ie flattering to deceive) but I thought he was a fair alternative until seeing he was also in the 13:15.
That 2m4f127yd handicap chase at 13:15 has 17 entries but a few have alternative engagements this weekend (a familiar story) and they are: Bowtogreatness, Fugitif, Ga Law, Idalko Bihoue, Railway Hurricane and Victorrino.
That may have given us an angle into the race but, unfortunately, once again I thought most of the roads led to last year's winner Il Ridoto, and the Sportsbook want him onside at 4s. No dice there then.
It's a defensively priced market overall in truth, with 11 of the 17 put in at 10s or shorter.
Just the six entries in the Grade 2 2m1f56yd Cotswold Chase at 13:50 and I didn't have too much beef with the Sportsbook prices, which are headed up by Royale Pagaille at 2/13.00, who sounds like an intended runner.
There is a slight difference of opinion in the industry as regards Capodanno. Willie Mullins' chaser is 10s with the Sportsbook but as short as 5s elsewhere.
It sounds like the owners of Impaire Et Passe are not expecting him to travel over for the Unibet Hurdle at 15:00, and all options seem open for Mullins' Lossiemouth too. She is in a mares' hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday and she would obviously have plenty of other options in Ireland down the line, as well.
Considering Lossiemouth is the Sportsbook's 5/42.25 favourite, and Impaire Et Passe is 7/24.50, then surely there is a betting angle into this race. Will Mullins run one, or indeed either, and he also has a 14s poke in here with Gala Marceau, too. However, the latter is also in at Doncaster.
Even so, no way would I offer Gala Marceau at 14s. Given the uncertainty surrounding the race, I probably wouldn't even go 4s myself for the fear of being filled in.
However, if the people who pay the bills don't know what Mullins is planning, what hope have we poor souls got? And I imagine if the layers see any interest at all in that 14s, then she could well be nearer 4s in an instant.
I am very surprised the race has been priced up, to be honest. It looks a pricing and punting minefield, and it will not take a lot of money to see this market change dramatically.
Love Envoi and Rubaud look likely runners but they are hardly enticing prices at 5/23.50 and 4/15.00 respectively . They could be double those odds on the day if Mullins, however unlikely it seems, wheels out all three of his.
Spirit D'Aunou and Under Control are also in at Doncaster on Saturday, and obviously the aforementioned Burdett Road is in the opener here.
It's a case of find the runner.
The Cleeve Hurdle at 15:35 is a touch more manageable and Paisley Park at 5/23.50, three-time winner of this race, is currently just edging out Dashel Drasher at 11/43.75 in the Sportsbook betting.
Be aware the three females in the race - Marie's Rock, West Balboa and Ailie Rose - are also in a Grade 2 mares' hurdle at Doncaster on Sunday.
It has been a frustrating column to write so far, as I just can't see a bet, and I am not going to lie to you here either.
The Sportsbook have also priced up the Grade 2 novices' hurdle at 16:05, with Gidleigh Park at evens, Lookaway at 10/34.33 and Jango Baie at 4/15.00. It is not a betting race at this stage, either.
Double-entries in this race include Jango Baie, Antrim Coast, Bowenspark, Chosen Templar, I Love My Baie, Johnnywho (the 6s fourth favourite), Kerryhill and Rich Spirit.
Up to Doncaster again then, and the remaining race we haven't covered. There must be a problem with the BHA site because their going (good to soft, good in places) hasn't been updated since 8.22am on Monday morning here, either.
The Grade 2 Rossington Main novices' hurdle at 13:30 has been re-routed here from the recently abandoned Haydock meeting and they have got the Supreme Hurdle second favourite Jeriko Du Reponet among the 12 entries for their troubles.
Anyone tempted by the Sportsbook's 1/21.50 about him for Saturday's race will be hoping he turns up - and I was very impressed with him last time - but that is not a given as Nicky Henderson also has his Aintree Tolworth winner Jango Baie in here (albeit under a 5lb penalty) and I'd be a touch surprised if he ran both, for all they are owned by different people.
And, with Jango Baie - he is also in over 2m4f at Cheltenham on Saturday, as mentioned above - priced up at 9/43.25, they take out a huge chunk of the market.
And this race has the potential to also massively cut up outside of that pair.
Others with double entries include Can't Resist It and Moon Chime (both in at the overnight stage at Huntingdon on Thursday), with Primoz and Sea Grey in the same race at Donny on Sunday.
The Kalooki Kid is entered in a handicap on the Donny card but he hasn't been allotted a weight, so I imagine he isn't eligible. However, Zhang Fei could run at Doncaster on Sunday or Plumpton on Monday.
What I am trying to say is that I am very surprised that the race has been priced up, and even more so that the Sportsbook are betting 1/5 1,2,3.
Basically I don't think you could go far wrong by backing any of the following each-way, three places at their current prices - Lump Sum, Fiercely Proud, Act Of Authority, The Kalooki Kid and El Elefante - as it looks a very bad each-way race.
But little good can come of sticking up such bets here. That, and the fact I strongly suspect whatever Henderson runs, wins, anyway, so you are playing for place money only.
The mares' hurdle at Doncaster at 14:05 is also on ITV but, unsurprisingly, this is one race that the layers have declined to price up, with Lossiemouth and Gala Marceau (along with stablemate Ashroe Diamond) in here, along with the similarly doubly-entered You Wear It Well, Say Goodbye and Under Control.
In summary, I have never seen a messier weekend as regards uncertain running plans, so I make no apologies for another no-bet column.
The usual rules apply.