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Dean Ryan

Dean Ryan

To play or not to play

© Photo Healy Racing

It is a busy time in the Ante Post markets for Cheltenham as the leading contenders strut there stuff on the track and targets are identified in post race interviews. This is always quickly followed by a colourful clamour of bookmaker reps to dazzle you with quotes and stories of piles of cash landing in the offices for one good thing after another.

A look at just the Tuesday of the Festival this year gives you ante post favourites at 5/2, 9/4, 5/4, 5/4 and 7/2 with the two handicaps generously chalked up at 12s the field. Bonkers?

The Supreme Novices Hurdle that kicks off affairs has only had one winning favourite in the last 10 years and that returned at 7/2jf. The Arkle has seen seven winners with 6/1 or bigger starting prices in the same period and the Champion Hurdle with only four winners below an SP of 9/1!

Three favourites have obliged in the National Hunt Chase but two of them sent off at 5/1 still makes for interesting food for thought when you consider a horse not confirmed for the race and unlikely to have finished his preparation on the track is 7/2 best price as I write.

It is 8/1 or bigger for the Novices Handicap Chase winners on the same day for all bar 2 of the last ten runnings and the Festival Handicap Chase has had only one favourite win in the last ten ( 5/1f ) and includes five victors returning at double figures up to a whopping 50/1.

Just the starting prices of the favourites on day one last year provides more food for thought as punters could have backed the jollies at 7/2, 11/4, 7/1, 11/4, 8/11, 3/1 and 13/2 with only one winning ( yes the odds on poke )!

We are used to seeing it now of course, horses at this time of year can be shortened on the comments of the trainer rather than an effort on the track. If it is on the track then a 15 length beating of trees in a damp looking rural setting makes 5/2 a good talking point for bookmakers taking less chances than a pregnant lady expecting triplets in under two months time.

They will have to deliver those mythical triplets though and that is when we get the joys of the real clamour for your business.

The tussle then of taking on these favourites that have been described as heavily supported aeroplane like equine powerhouses begins in earnest and alongside the new account offers, concessions for fallers, extra places and money back giveaways then wait I say, wait!!

One caveat though is if you get a whisper for something away from the top of the market that is only being prepped for one day and has been working the house down prior to a run in the coming weeks drop me a line.