The Cheltenham Bankers … Value?

February 8th, 2022 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there,

As you are probably aware I have always tried to find value against short-priced horses, but in my Champion Hurdle preview in the Dark Horses Jumps Guide I had to follow the flow, writing about Honeysuckle:

“I am loath to say it, but 2/1 could actually be ‘value’ for this remarkable mare.”

There is still time for things to go wrong, but now a top price of 4/6 – 2/5 with a run – those who were willing to tie up their money back in October are now in a position to lay off to protect their stake and secure a green book.

Looking further into the opportunities available to punters at this time, my attention was drawn to an email from William Hill, who are offering odds of 1/10 about Ireland winning the Prestbury Cup – the competition with Great Britain for the most number of winners at the Festival.

Now I don’t know how much the bookmaker would accept – it may not be all that much – but surely this 10% return is, in the context of the prevailing low interest rates, tremendous value.

As you will recall no fewer than 23 of last season’s 28 Festival races went to horses trained in Ireland, and as I write 19 of the 28 races have an Irish-trained runner at the head of the market.

Of course something may happen – cancellation of ferry crossings or some kind of restriction on travel – but in the context of betting I wouldn’t discourage big players to step in.

There will soon be talk, if there hasn’t been already, of the meeting’s ‘banker’, with multiple bets on the short ones also attracting interest.

Something usually comes to save the bookmakers – who can forget the last-flight fall of Annie Power in 2015 – but at this stage I would suggest the nomination for banker rests between Honeysuckle and Facile Vega in the bumper.

Allaho, in the Ryanair, would be close on their heels, and those keen on a treble on the three would, at today’s prices, be aiming for around 7/1 (based on Honeysuckle at 4/6).

The more ambitious may wish to add Constitution Hill (9/4) and Shishkin (4/5), who would raise the odds to around 40/1, although the last two, as you know, have very good horses to beat.

I should add at this stage that these are not recommended bets – I will be trying hard to find flaws in their profiles, although that may not be easy this year.

However we are at that stage of the season, with most bookmakers offering the ‘non-runner, no bet’ concession, that it’s intriguing to acquire an early perspective on what’s around.

Bye for now