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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Hosing up or holding on: which festival favourite wins by the widest margin?

Samcro strolls away from his rivals in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leoparstown
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Coral have opened a market centred around six of the favourites at the Cheltenham Festival, asking who punters think will be the widest-margin winner. David Baxter gives his assessment

Altior (3-1f)

The Champion Chase market leader has not been beaten over fences and has comfortably swatted aside his rivals throughout a sparkling career.

At last season's festival he dispatched Cloudy Dream by six lengths in the Arkle, and the year before the gap back to Min was seven lengths in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Altior: has won both the Supreme and the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival

While he is the most likely winner, he could sprint clear and then comfortably see out the closing stages, which does not make him value in this market.

Samcro (100-30)

If Samcro matches the hype generated this season, then he could win by any margin he likes, such is the belief in some quarters that this horse is a superstar in the making.

Two of his three hurdle wins have been by double-digit distances, but if the forecast is correct, the ground could be quite tacky for day two of the meeting.

That sort of ground suits few, if any runners, and were Samcro to get slightly stuck in the mud then he may well still have the class to win, but might have to work slightly harder than anticipated. 

Footpad (4-1)

The plan for the Arkle favourite is likely to be simple in approach. Set off in front, gallop and jump rivals into submission. If it works, which it has on three previous chase starts, he could be well clear by the end.

But Saint Calvados also likes to be out in front, while Petit Mouchoir made the running when beating Footpad over hurdles. This much pace could lead to a surprise result or Footpad could be softened up and picked off.

Footpad: could be vulnerable to a pace meltdown as plenty of horses in the Arkle have won from the front in the past

Apple's Jade (9-2)

When Apple's Jade won the OLBG Mares' Hurdle last year she defeated now-retired Vroum Vroum Mag by a length and a half.

Although a serial winner, she does not often score by a huge margin, and her biggest distance for Gordon Elliott (14 lengths) was achieved on better ground than she will likely encounter next week.

 Buveur D'Air (5-1)

The reigning Champion Hurdler has a similar profile to Apple's Jade. He is a winning machine, but not since his maiden hurdle win has the distance exceeded ten lengths.

Rivals struggle to get the seven-year-old out of his comfort zone and he may well be able to win comfortably on Tuesday without being over-extended.

Getabird (6-1)

As the favourite for the first race of the meeting, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, there are some additional variables to consider with Getabird.

Getabird: could be value in the winning distance market

Could the nervous energy down at the start spill out on to the track and the field go off too quickly, setting the race up for the closers? What will the ground be like? Given Getabird's SP will be a lot shorter, 6-1 is tempting, if things go to plan.

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If Samcro matches the hype generated this season, then he could win by any margin he likes
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