Non-Runner No-Bet at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival with bet365
With less than ten weeks to go before the start of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, bookmaker bet365 are the first firm to advertise the generous concession of non-runner-no-bet on the five championship races – Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase, Stayers Hurdle and Gold Cup.
While it is understandable that the generally shorter prices quoted by bet365 take into account the fact that stakes will be returned on all non runners, there is still plenty of potential value to be had, especially should one or more of the ante-post favourites, for one reason or another, fall by the wayside in the weeks ahead.
With that in mind, we have pinpointed three horses whose chances may have been underestimated by the bet365 odds compilers, and without the risk of losing your stake should any of the trio not run, may offer plenty in the way of each-way value come the day of the race(s).
FUNAMBULE SIVOLA – Champion Chase (Wednesday 16th March) – 33/1 with bet365 (EW)
With some bookmakers going 12/1 bar two, at the moment this two mile test of speed and jumping looks to concern Shishkin and Energumene, both unbeaten since going over fences.
The pair could easily meet at Ascot later this month, the result of which would certainly shake-up the betting on the race. One horse who could also run in that Clarence House Chase on the 22nd is the Venetia Williams-trained Funambule Sivola who gave Shishkin a bit of a scare when second to that horse in a Grade 1 at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
The seven-year-old has looked like a pure two-miler when failing to get home in both of his starts this season, Huntingdon’s 2m 4f Peterborough Chase and most recently when weakening late on under top weight in Cheltenham’s extended 2m 4f New Year’s Day Handicap Chase.
The son of Noroit is a general 33/1 chance in the ante-post market with most firms, so with the nrnb proviso that price looks potentially excellent each-way value with bet365 in a race which usually results in a single-figure field.
MIDNIGHT SHADOW – Ryanair Chase (Thursday 17th March) – 33/1 with bet365 (EW)
Last year’s impressive winner Allaho is clearly the one to beat with odds of 2/1 the best on offer at the moment. The Willie Mullins-trained chaser still holds an entry in the Gold Cup however, as do most of the horses quoted towards the head of the betting.
One possible contender who looks tailor-made for the race and is as short as 20/1 in the ante-post market with a couple of bookmakers is Midnight Shadow from the stable of Sue Smith who is crying out to be backed at 33/1 non-runner-no-bet with bet365.
The Midnight Legend gelding has some excellent course form to his name, including a victory in the 2019 Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle. The nine-year-old ran out a game winner of the ultra-competitive Paddy Power Gold Cup on the course earlier in the season before going down by just two lengths when third in the Racing Post Gold Cup on his most recent start.
With several of his potential rivals either heading to the Champion Chase or Gold Cup, Midnight Legend makes plenty of each-way appeal at 33/1.
PROTEKTORAT – Gold Cup (Friday 18th March) – 12/1 with bet365 (EW)
With the exception of Savills Chase winner Galvin it is a case of the usual suspects at the head of the Gold Cup betting, dominated by last year’s 1-2 Minella Indo and A Plus Tard with previous dual scorer Al Boum Photo just behind.
The one British challenger who looks capable of matching strides with the dominant Irish contingent is the Dan Skelton-trained Protektorat, who is worth backing at bet365’s 12/1 (nrnb) as opposed to the slightly better ante-post odds of 14/1 available with a couple of bookmakers.
The son of Saint Des Saints won the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree last season over 2m 4f and after staying on strongly to get to within three quarters of a length of Midnight Shadow in the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November looked to be crying out for a step-up in trip.
The seven-year-old proved his stamina beyond doubt when running away with the 3m 1f Many Clouds Chase at Aintree last month, beating 2018 Gold Cup winner Native River by 25 lengths.
As one of the youngest horses entered for the great race, Protektorat can only improve upon what he has already achieved and has an excellent chance of halting the Irish domination of the last three years.
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