Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Billy Blakeman ValueChecker

Bookmakers Keen to Take On Cue Card in the Supreme Novices

Cue Card, for many the banker of the meeting, is surprisingly being pushed out in the market by a number of leading firms. At the time of writing, Ladbrokes are holding 3/1 and that has to be a value price for punters. There are no particularly negative vibes from the yard of Colin Tizzard and there are no last minute scare stories, although Willie Mullins is concerned about the ground for his runner, Zaidpour.

Dunraven Storm
© Racehorse Photos

Dunraven Storm

Preview - Off we go with Cheltenham 2011 and the traditional Supreme Novices roar, most eyes will be tracking Cue Card, the winner of last year’s bumper and next to Quevega, the hottest festival favourite of the week. Opinions will be divided on every horse in every race and with Cue Card, there are plenty who deem him unbeatable in this whilst others will point to him being twice the price of the certainty that was Dunguib a year ago and play on the fact that the only time he has had to battle, he was comprehensively outpointed by Menorah. With the latter my fancy for the Champion Hurdle later in the afternoon, that could turn out to be top drawer formline and I would not be jumping to lay Cue Card. I do have a positive interest in Colin Tizzard’s star but I am going to select one at a much bigger price each-way

Dunraven Storm managed no more than a mid-position finish in the bumper here last year and when asked to again take on Cue Card here in November, he was beaten comfortably by 8-lengths. To complete a fairly bleak picture, the than returned to the track 8-days later to finish last of 4 at Haydock when sent off at long odds-on. That isn’t the full picture though as he went on from the Festival last year to win his bumper and made a bright start to his hurdling career, winning a novice at Exeter in the autumn and following up in much better company at Ascot, where Recession Proof was 4-lengths behind. I am not going to argue he doesn’t come with risks, but he is entitled to make the frame on his best form and I would be fairly confident that the break he returns from will have done him some good.

Nicky Henderson provides two of the main market rivals to Cue Card and Barry Geraghty has long been pondering his options. In the end, he has decided that Spirit Son has a little bit more class on his c.v. than stablemate Sprinter Sacre and that decision has to carry some weight. Neither horse has really been stretched this year but I tend to side with Spirit Son of the pair and I number myself amongst the many that believe the horse could be something special. Beaten lesser opposition so far but jumps, travels and gallops so backers of the favourite are right to fear this one.

Of the rest, nothing really excites me although Hidden Universe would not be without a chance if taking better to Cheltenham than he did in the bumper this year.

What does excite me is Paddy Power’s superb promotion where losing bets will be refunded if Cue Card wins. Add to that a £100 free bet for new accounts (see link above) and it clearly makes sense to get involved in the promotion.


Recommendation: Dunraven Storm (e/w)


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