Here is a forum post from one of our regular subscribers Mike (MJC). As most of the major bookmakers are going NRNB for various championship races (and beyond) and the Xmas trials are now out of the way it may be useful to have a look at some Ante-Post selections for the Cheltenham Festival 2016 and mainly how they see various races going.
Faugheen at 4/6 is a very silly price (he is 1/2 in a place, that is off a cliff silly), with Nichols Canyon bettering Faugheen at Leopardstown last time out and him currently being 6/1 with most bookmakers, he is an ew bet to nothing in my opinion ( I will oft bet ew AP when NRNB). Competing owners will ensure that on the big day they will not let Faugheen make the running (like The New One did at Kempton, but the less said about that the better, he is not a Grade 1 horse any more).
It is worth considering the only time Faugheen has been tested, he lost, if he nicks a hurdle and Nichols Canyon is on his tail two out, it could be interesting.
A larger price and worth further review might be Identity Thief who ran well over the Xmas period, I also would not put you off Arctic Fire and you might fancy a Mullins 1-2-3. As I do not see any of the English contenders running into the mix, Old Guard was shown to be in my opinion not of the necessary level and I would be surprised if Peace & Co. is able to land a blow after his weird run in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham a few weeks back.
The consensus is if Vautour turns up he wins, at the moment however it is not clear if he will run in this or the Gold Cup (more on that later). Therefore with a 1/1 skewing the market, I would advise looking at Smad Place, after the King George, Alan King commented that Smad Place was heading to the Ryanair and soon after the King George 16s could be found, it is now down to 6s again, which is unlikely to be a price that will attract, although it is worth keeping an eye on all the same as if it balloons (should Vautour be confirmed as running), I would suggest people should have a good look at him, his front-running style will suit the race and if Vautour is not the horse Mullins thought he was (one way or t'other) he could take the spoils.
A sensible longer-odds bet might be Road to Riches at 16s, he is owned by Mr Ryanair and if he swerves the Gold Cup at NRNB it seems a sound investment.
Don Poli is big at 6/1, he does everything you would want a potential Gold Cup winner to do, he jumps soundly, never seems out of a race and wins. I would rather be on him than Vautour at the same price and whilst I love Cue Card to bits at the price he now is, I am worried he may be outpaced on better ground. I do however see him in the places, anyone who says he does not stay in my opinion is wrong, he does and he will.
That being said I expect the price to stay roughly the same, so it probably is not worth an AP unless Djakadam massively fluffs his lines on appearance.
As per the Ryanair, Road to Riches is a huge price at 20/1 with some. That price surely falls prior to the festival. He came third in arguably the most compelling and gruelling Gold Cup from a pace perspective the modern-era has seen for quite sometime, Coneygree destroyed that field, no question, therefore Djakadam and Road to Riches who were shooting out at the death, deserve huge credit. I doubt this year will have a pace angle anything like that, therefore with Road to Riches at 20/1 and Djakadam now favourite at 4/1 in places, the sensible bet seems the longer odds.
Always a temptation to pick holes in a horse that is near-enough flawless, but Douvan over Xmas at Leopardstown was [insert superlatives] , clearly the most defiant performance over the holiday period and will win the Arkle on his preferred better ground. However, at 4/6 the ship has sailed (and probably was never one to back at the odds anyway after last years Supreme) and would be one for multiples only if that is your thing.
As to an alternative, not having Nicky Henderson' hose Lami Serge as a rival, that Plumpton race didn't tell us anything (other than the meeting should have been cancelled) and the Champion Hurdle hammering of last year still plays in my mind as to AR MAD an interesting one at a bigger price, not necessarily guaranteed to run in the Arkle although Gary Moore has indicated he goes straight to Cheltenham but questions exist as to his jumping and in Moore' own words he does not want “good” ground which it oft is in Cheltenham.