It’s never easy being the favourite to win a horse race, let alone a race at one of the biggest events in the racing calendar – the Cheltenham Festival. Legends will be made and underdogs will reign supreme, every race is unpredictable, regardless of what the odds suggest.
The opening day of the festival has already provided punters with plenty to ponder ahead of the remaining three days of races. If you think you can predict who will win over the next three days, why not check out the latest odds here – https://www.betfair.com/exchange/plus/horse-racing.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The opening race of the festival was expected to be a win for Al Dancer, who was made the 7/2 favourite prior to the start. Despite maintaining a reasonable distance to the leader, Al Dancer couldn’t even manage to place, with Klassical Dream taking first place and Thomas Darby and Itchy Feet finishing in second and third place respectively.
Seeing the favourite fail to place was a major blow to punters right from the off and the bookies must have been enjoying that moment.
Again the favourite had a tough time out on the Cheltenham course, and the weather has certainly done nobody any favours so far this festival. Hardline ran as the favourite, with Glen Forsa a close second favourite, but neither could race to victory.
Hardline managed a fourth-placed finish, while Glen Forsa fell early on. Fortunately for bettors, many bookies place the first four places in the Arkle Chase, so while Hardline won’t have won you the jackpot, you can at least get a little bit back.
Rather than the 10/3 favourite Hardline winning the race, it was 5/1 shot Duc Des Genievres who came out on top, opening up an impressive gap on the chasing pack.
Ultima Handicap Chase
It was always likely that the new race would see a favourite ride home as the winner primarily because there were four joint-favourites racing. In the pre-race odds, Coo Star Sivola, Give Me A Copper, Mister Whitaker and Up For Review were all priced at 8/1.
Quite incredibly, none of the four favourites were able to win the race, instead it was Beware The Bear, who was priced just behind the favourites at 10/1. None of the favourites could claim second place, as Vintage Clouds, who led for much of the race, finished as runner-up. In fact, none of the favourites could claim a top four finish, in a style reminiscent of an Arsene Wenger Arsenal side.
Apples Jade had been the favourite for much of the build-up to the race and prior to the Champion Hurdle, was priced at 2/1. This was followed by the impressive Laurina at 5/2 and defending champion Buveur d’Air at 11/4.
Would the curse of the favourite finally end in the Champion Hurdle? No, no it wouldn’t. Apples Jade struggled throughout the race, Laurina failed to finish in the top three and the defending champion Buveur d’Air fell around halfway through the race.