The opening race of the 2011 Cheltenham Festival revolves around another short priced favourite and after punters had their fingers burnt with Cousin Vinny and Dunguib in the last two renewals, there is sure to be mixed feelings with regards to the chances of Cue Card.
Cue Card will be looking to add another Cheltenham Festival success to his CV after he flew home with a wide-margin victory in the Champion Bumper at last year’s meeting and he arrives at Prestbury Park in top form.
Colin Tizzard’s stable star has established himself as the king of the novice hurdling division this season and he was last seen finishing second to Menorah in the International Hurdle in December. That result came after he powered to victory at Aintree and Cheltenham and his form this season is already good enough to win an average renewal of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
That being said, there is no value in the favourite’s odds and it could be that he is priced up largely on his success in last year’s Bumper. It was worrying to see Cue Card fail to pick up when Menorah cruised past him in the International Hurdle and Dunguib’s defeat in last year’s race lives long in the memory.
While he looks the most likely winner of the race, there is sure to be more value elsewhere in the field and punters would be foolish not to bet with Paddy Power. The Irish firm are refunding all losing single bets if Cue Card wins the race, meaning that you can back one of his rivals and be refunded if the favourite can get the job done.
Bearing that sensational offer in mind, the horse to be on could be Nicky Henderson’s highly regarded Spirit Son who heads to the Festival never having tasted defeat.
The French import has romped to facile victories at Huntingdon and Exeter since he arrived from France and there are plenty of people that believe the youngster is the real deal.
It must be of some concern that all three of his victories have come on heavy ground, but he can only beat the horses in front of him on the ground he is asked to race with and there is every reason to believe that he might even improve for better conditions.
Other horses to consider include recent totesport Trophy hero Recession Proof, Spirit Son’s stablemate Sprinter Sacre and early season favourite for the race Zaidpour.
Selection – Spirit Son 5/1 (make sure you back with Paddy Power
and get your money back if Cue Card wins)