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The changing face of the Cheltenham Festival - and what it means for punters

Jonathan Harding and Dylan Hill unearth some startling Cheltenham trends

When Facile Vega blew out at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, there was a perception the opening race of next week's Cheltenham Festival, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, had suddenly been thrown wide open.

Wide open, that is, only in the context of the modern-day festival. Facile Vega is no longer the odds-on shot we've come to associate with Cheltenham's novice races, but he is still only 9-4 with just a handful of serious market rivals. We're hardly talking 2008 all over again.

It's hard to imagine now but just 15 years ago bookmakers went 8-1 the field in the Supreme. Not at the start of the season, not a week beforehand, but at the off. Subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Binocular was one of three co-favourites at that price when beaten into second by Captain Cee Bee, himself among three 17-2 shots.

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Dylan HillPremium editor
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Jonathan HardingReporter
Published on 7 March 2023Last updated 18:47, 7 March 2023