Cheltenham picture grows clearer as Samcro confirmed for Ballymore
For race fans, one of the best things about the Cheltenham Festival is that the entries are
announced so far in advance of the festival itself. It gives us all something to talk about, and
the bookmakers are constantly assessing and reassessing the form and the odds as we get
to see how the favourites are performing in Dublin, Newark and the other race meetings that
However, it can also be a time of confusion. Plenty of runners are provisionally entered in
two or even three races, and it is only as we enter the final couple of weeks that the picture
begins to grow clear.
Keeping up with developments
Fortunately in the internet age, there is one thing that is never lacking, and that’s information.
The renowned festival tipsters at Cheltenhamfestival.net provide daily updates, looking at
the novice races as well as the showcase events like the Gold Cup and the Champions
Hurdle. A case in point is the Ballymore Novices Hurdle, the first race on Ladies Day, where
racing manager Eddie Leary has been among the first to blink and confirm that the highly
impressive Samcro will definitely be running.
Trained by Gordon Elliot, this six year old has literally beaten all comers and is yet to lose a
race in seven runs. Cheltenham will be his biggest challenge to date, but Elliot is confident
that he can make the step up, and after his superb performance at the Dublin festival last
month, few would argue. The bookmakers are certainly convinced, and from the moment of
Leary’s announcement, the odds shortened dramatically. Most are offering around 4/5 on,
with some as short as 1/2.
The confirmation that Samcro will be running in the Ballymore Hurdle has implications that
run further, however. The horse had a provisional entry in the Supreme Novice Hurdle, the
opening race of the festival that is renowned for being something of a lottery. Despite the
inherent difficulty in picking a winner when there is such a large and chaotic field, Samcro’s
withdrawal removes one moving part, and the tipsters have their sights firmly set on the
Willie Mullins trained Getabird. Odds have now been slashed from 3/1 to around 6/4.
Onto the Bartlett
As the owners and trainers consider the implications of Leary’s decision, there could be
further ripples elsewhere throughout the festival. Those who were torn between the
Ballymore on Wednesday and the Albert Bartlett on Gold Cup Day are almost certain to lean
towards the latter in preference to taking on the undefeated Samcro. This is a race in which
there are still plenty of unknowns , and the advice from the tipsters is to hold fast to your
money for a little longer yet.
However, for anyone who really can’t wait, this could be another race in which Willie Mullins
will come out smiling. Next Destination will arrive at Cheltenham on the back of three straight
wins at Naas and Navan, and while Mullins is among those who is holding fire on confirming
which race he will ultimately choose for the three year old, the Bartlett now seems the logical
choice. Bookmakers currently have the horse at joint 5/1 favourite with Cracking Smart,
another from the Elliot stable.
Still plenty of unknowns
The length of those odds, even for the favourites, demonstrates that there are plenty of
twists and turns to come in the run up to Cheltenham. Will you take a punt and lay down
some early wagers or hang on till the dust settles a little more? Whichever way you decide to
go, stay in touch with the expert tipsters at Cheltenham to inform your betting with the latest
news and views.