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Wednesday 14 February 2018

Five Ante-Post Bets For March And April

There is so much to look forward over the next few months as the national hunt season in the UK comes to an end with the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National taking centre stage, while we also have the start of the flat season to get excited about with the Dubai World Cup taking place in late March.

Here are five ante-post bets which can hopefully help you make some money from these big meetings before spring.

Champion Hurdle – Faugheen

Former Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen made a return to the racecourse this season after almost two years off the track with the leading hurdle contest at the Festival being his target again in March. Willie Mullins’ superstar looked like he had never been away when he coasted to the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown by 16 lengths back in November to the delight of his fans who were doubting whether they’d see him again following a serious leg injury.

Sadly for his connections, the horse normally described as a ‘machine’ was below his best on his last two outings. He was pulled up in the Ryanair Hurdle at the back end of December after weakening inside the closing stages, while on his most recent start, he had to settle for second place behind Supasundae in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

Given how long he was off the track for, the 10-year-old should be forgiven for his last couple of runs. He won’t need to improve too much on his Irish Champion Hurdle performance so he is worth sticking with as if he does turn to at the Festival back to his best, no horse in the division will be able to stop him from regaining his crown in the 2m contest.

The current favourite for the Champion Hurdle is last year’s winner Buveur D’Air who has won nine of his 10 races over hurdles, however, he has never met Faugheen before so until he beats the Irish horse, it is difficult to say he is not taking advantage of a weak division at the moment.

Cheltenham Gold Cup – Might Bite

Might Bite is looking to join only a small club of horses which have been able to win the RSA Chase and then 12 months later return to the Festival to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Nicky Henderson-trained runner looks the most likely winner of the Blue Riband event at the meeting though as he has been faultless so far this season against the older generation.

The nine-year-old put his Gold Cup credentials on the line in the Grade One King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and he passed with flying colours, beating some of the leading horses in the division, including Thistlecrack, Bristol De Mai and Fox Norton.

Clearly the biggest threat to Might Bite’s chances in the Gold Cup will be the defending champion Sizing John. The Irish runner looked very flat last time out in the Christmas Chase though so there have to be question marks asked about his form leading into Festival.

Grand National – Vicente

Two-time Scottish Grand National winner Vicente will get his second attempt at the Grand National at Aintree in April for former Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls. In 2017 he lasted just one fence as a mistake at the opening obstacle resulted in him coming down to the disappointment of all those connected to the chaser.

Vicente has proven on more than one occasion now that he has the stamina to do really well in the staying chases. He was able to make up for his disappointment on Merseyside last year to defend his crown at Ayr in the Scottish equivalent of the Grand National just weeks later. Due to the early fall, he travelled up north of the border relatively fresh and that was reflected on the racetrack as he had the speed at the end of the race to see off Cogry by a neck.

The mistake last year by Vicente can be forgiven as many good horses have failed at the first fence before they have got into a rhythm. Nicholls’ runner is a top price of 33/1 to win the Grand National in 2018 but if you are having a bet on the world’s most famous steeplechase, look out for the best free bet offers, money back specials and sign up offers which have been listed by Oddschecker ahead of the race.

Dubai World Cup – Forever Unbridled

Forever Unbridled landed the biggest prize of her career last November when she scored in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar. The brilliant mare is now set to travel to the UAE to run in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan where she looks a big price at 10/1 to cause a surprise.

The Dubai World Cup looks very open this year as the 2017 winner Arrogate is now in stud, while the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup champion Gun Runner has also retired leaving a void open for a new horse to establish themselves as the leading dirt runner on the planet in 2018.

Dallas Stewart’s runner has not suffered defeated since she finished third in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, therefore she will travel to the Dubai World Cup Carnival in fantastic form. The 2000m trip is 200m further than she is used to travelling, however, she should be just as effective at that distance.

West Coast is the ante-post favourite with the bookmakers for the prestigious dirt contest after he finished second to Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup. That was obviously a huge run from Bob Baffert’s horse, however, he has only two Grade One wins to his name so he still has a lot to prove when he lines up at Meydan in March.

Dubai Sheema Classic – Cracksman

Cracksman ended last season in superb style to win the Qipco Champion Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot to cap off an excellent campaign in 2017. three-year-old old also had victories in the Prix Niel at Chantilly and the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York

John Gosden’s colt went off as the 7/2 favourite to win the Derby at Epsom last June but he could only come home third behind Wings of Eagles and Cliffs of Moher respectively. Since then though, he has improved with every outing and looks to be at the very top of his game.

Gosden and the rest of the horse’s connections can be very excited about the season ahead with their runner as he should line up in all the open-age leading middle distance races across Europe over the next eight months.

The end goal will be the Prix de lArc de Triomphe at Longhcamp in October where he is likely to face the defending champion Enable. Before then though, all the focus will be on the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.

This will be the four year’s old first appearance at the Dubai World Cup Carnival but he has a lot of experience under his belt now to handle the occasion just fine. Many of his rivals in the race are likely to come from the UK and will be horses in which on the ratings, he is expected to get the better of quite comfortably.

Cracksman could have one run at the carnival before the Dubai Sheema Classic and that will be used to sharpen the horse up so don’t worry too much about the result in the race. He is currently available at 15/8 but don’t be surprised if he goes off a lot shorter on the day as market confidence is sure to be behind the Champion Stakes winner.

Good luck with your bets over the next few months and enjoy what is a fantastic period in the sport with some major meetings taking place around the world.


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