Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 14:23 12/01/2015
The 2015 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup may be more than two months away but now could be the perfect time to have a couple of ante-post bets in the race with several bookmakers electing to go non runner no bet along with the other three Championship races at the Festival, the Stan James Champion Hurdle, Betway Champion Chase and Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
The fact that impressive King George V1 Chase winner Silviniaco Conti is as short as 5-2 to follow up his win at Kempton means that there are plenty of juicy prices available about a number of lively outsiders who could start a lot short come the day of the race. While there is little doubt that the Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old is the one to beat on this season's form the son of Dom Alco's previous visits to Prestbury Park hardly fill one with confidence as they read 3 - F - 4 and it may be that the course does not bring out the best in the gelding.
Last year's renewal looked only average as jumping the last a good six horses were still in with a chance of victory and it may pay to look elsewhere for the possible winner on Friday 13th March. Road To Riches looks the obvious improver after his Lexus win but at odds of 8-1 the value has now gone while Holywell can not be backed at 14-1 based on two moderate runs this season. One race that usually proves a good guide to the Gold Cup is Newbury's Hennessy and the race won by Denman in 2007 and 2009 and Bobs Worth in 2012 may once again provide plenty of clues regarding the Gold Cup of 2015.
The winner of that Grade 3 handicap was the Oliver Sherwood-trained Many Clouds who is a top price 16-1 for Cheltenham but the runner up on that occasion Houblon Des Obeaux comes out as the best horse in the race at the weights yet can be backed with most bookmakers at 33-1 to gain revenge in March. The reason for the discrepancy in price is that the mud-loving son of Panoramic will only run providing the ground comes up testing for the Festival, and while that possibility is unlikely, should the heavens open leading up to the meeting Houblon Des Obeaux could easily go off a 10 or 12-1 chance. If good ground prevail as is now usually the case at least any stakes will be returned by those bookmakers offering the non-runner concession.
The other horse of interest is Hennessy fifth Smad Place, a 25-1 chance with those firms going n.r.n.b. as Alan King's grey is another who could end up a much shorter price come the day with the eight-year-old open to plenty more improvement. A top class staying hurdler, the son of Smadoun boasts two third-place finishes in the World Hurdle and has done little wrong since switching to the bigger obstacles, the most impressive being a narrow defeat by O'Faolains Boy in last season's RSA Chase, also known as the novices' Gold Cup.
Although twenty lengths behind Many Clouds in the Hennessy the winner enjoyed a fitness advantage that day and should Smad Place win his Cheltenham prep race, possibly the Argento Chase on January 24th, the odds currently on offer about this smart performer could look very big in a couple of weeks time.
Houblon Des Obeaux - 1 Point each-way 33-1 N.R.N.B. Bet365, Skybet, Betfred, Paddy Power, Betfair SB
Smad Place - 1 Point each-way 25-1 N.R.N.B.
Bet365, Skybet, Betfred, BetfairSB