What We Have Learned So Far in the UK and IRE National Hunt Season

International horse racing

When most American racing fans are reflecting on the Breeders’ Cup and perhaps looking back on the year in racing, the national hunt season just starts getting underway in the UK and Ireland. Now, a couple months into the season we are started to get a picture of who is going to be the movers and shakers at events like the Grand National and Cheltenham Festival.

It is the latter, the Cheltenham Festival, that is on the minds of most trainers and jockeys, as the four-day spectacular (12th-15th March) has grown in stature to become the elite event in the national hunt season. Several interesting races that hold clues to the Festival have been already held over the last few weeks. Here are some of the interesting titbits:

Altior on song for Nicky Henderson

There is very little doubt that Altior is the best middle-distance chaser in the world right now and that shows up in the fact he is as low as 4/7 (Bet365) for the Champion Chase. He was impressive on his season debut at Sandown when taking the Tingle Creek Chase. Un De Sceaux gave him a bit of a scare, but, barring injury, he looks like the closest thing there is to a sure thing at Cheltenham.

 

Buveur D’Air also impressive in Fighting Fifth

If any jumps horse can rival Altior for imperiousness over the last few years, it’s stablemate Buveur D’Air. The 7-year-old is aiming for a third successive Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham 2019, and is priced at evens (William Hill) to do so. A brilliant performance in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle underlined those credentials.

Bristol De Mai’s brilliance comes with a caveat

One of the best races this season saw Bristol de Mai go up against Gold Cup contenders Might Bite, Thistlecrack and Native River in the Betfair Chase. Bristol De Mai blew them away, as he does to other opposition at Haydock Park in the past. The only issue is that form isn’t as hot away from Haydock. It’s a puzzler. Bristol De Mai is 20/1 with Betfair for the Gold Cup and, while he is erratic, you can get Cheltenham betting offers, like free bets, to back him. The perfect shot to nothing horse.

End of the dream for Faugheen?

Faugheen, for some the greatest hurdler of a generation, has had several ups and downs over the past couple of seasons. There was a hint of reinvention last April, with a stunning win in the Irish Champions Stayers’ Hurdle at Punchestown. His first run this season was thoroughly mediocre, finishing second in a field of horses who wouldn’t be anywhere near him at his peak. The question is: Has he still got one last great run in him? He is 12/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle 2019 with Sky Bet and William Hill. Currently, however, BetVictor have put him at just 3/1 and favourite. It’s a measure of the respect that this horse is held in. If he does win, it will see the biggest cheer of the Festival.

Just who is Annamix?

Willie Mullins has apparently got another superstar on his hands with the 4-year-old French import Annamix. The only problem is that a pelvic injury has meant we have yet to get a look at Annamix, except for a lone second-place finish in France. However, that hasn’t stopped the bookies from putting the horse in as the favourite – around 9/1 with several betting companies – for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The horse must look exceptional in the training yard.

Five Intriguing Bets for the Coming Months

International Horse Racing

 The summer of 2018 is slipping away, but we have already been rewarded with some top class moments in racing this year: Justify secured the Triple Crown, arguably in greater style than any horse before him; Stradivarius showed his credentials by wining the Ascot Gold Cup; Gun Runner gobbled up the big prize money by winning the second ever Pegasus World Cup.

There was, of course, plenty more highlights in a great year for racing, but there should be plenty more with the likes of the Breeders’ Cup, Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe and Melbourne Cup still to come. In light of that, here are five intriguing bets that you can make in the ante-post markets. All prices are taken from the latest today horse racing odds at 888sport:

Cox Plate – Winx (1/2)

Starting with a hot favourite, Winx is on a well-documented 26 race winning streak, equalling the record of the legendary Black Caviar. The mare now tops the rankings as the world’s best racehorse, quite the feat with the likes of Justify was out there creating history. The Cox Plate looks like the right fit for Chris Waller’s horse. The reason Winx makes for an intriguing bet is that there is every chance those odds will drop as we approach November. Few big races are nailed on in horse racing, but the Cox Plate looks almost certain for Winx.

King George V1 Chase – Native River (10/1)

This one takes place right at the tail end of 2018, so you might want to wait a bit to get a feel for the British national hunt season before weighing in. However, Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River sticks out at a very big price here. The current favourite, Might Bite, comes in at 5/2, but you’d need to be pretty brave to go all in at this stage with odds like that.

The Everest – Trapeze Artist (7/2)

Listen to any of the connections of Trapeze Artist speak and you’ll hear a team brimming with confidence in its charge. On paper, you can see why; Trapeze Artist loves the distance and beat last years winner, and 9/2 second-favourite, Redzel at Randwick in April. One caveat, however, is that the Everest works in the same manner as the Pegasus World Cup in that slots are purchased for the race. Two slots are yet to be filled, so there may yet be a better challenge to Trapeze Artist.

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Prix de l‘Arc de Triomphe – Study of Man (20/1)

Two names have dominated the betting chatter in the run up to France’s most important race – last year’s winner Enable and 9/2 favourite Sea of Class. However, keep an eye out for Pascal Bary’s talented Study of Man, who took a surprise victory in the Prix du Jockey Club, the equivalent of the French Derby, in June.

St Leger – Old Persian (8/1)

Again, most of the betting has centred around Kew Gardens (7/4) and Lah Ti Dar (5/1), but Old Persian showed that he is a battler when beating the former at York last week. The St Leger will represent a tougher challenge and it’s going to be a tight race, but the value might well lie with Charlie Appleby’s underrated 3-year-old.