With the beginning of the Cheltenham Festival just a month away, the Racing Post’s Robbie Wilders picks out two horses of interest in bet365’s non-runner no bet markets for the biggest meeting in jump racing.
14 entries in the Champion Hurdle this far out is a disappointing yield, although that is understandable given the brilliance of Constitution Hill and to a certain extent State Man.
Constitution Hill is the best hurdler I’ve ever seen and it might be worth playing one to pick up the pieces if State Man, who make no mistake is less talented, is ridden aggressively in a bid to get the short-priced favourite beaten.
I expected a little more from Vauban at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Hurdle last time and we may not see the best of him until next season, so the bet without Constitution Hill is Echoes In Rain.
This rapidly improving mare looked better than ever in the Limestone Lad in January, and while she might take in the Mares’ Hurdle instead, she possesses an impressive turn of foot and rates a better proposition over this sharper two miles.
Trainer Willie Mullins kept the door open for Echoes In Rain running in the Champion Hurdle in a recent Racing Post stable tour and I’d expect her to finish in the first four at the very least if taking her chance.
Epatante, Honeysuckle and Love Envoi will probably miss this for the Mares’ and there might be only six runners on the day, so the 12/1 each-way without the favourite, with the guarantee of getting your money back if she doesn’t run, is worth considering.
Dan Skelton recently highlighted Galia Des Liteaux as the stable’s best chance of a Cheltenham Festival winner if the rain comes in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase, and I’m surprised she is still available at 14/1 in light of those comments.
Galia Des Liteaux surely won’t run on ground without a significant ease, so it is easy to imagine her going off at a third of those odds if getting the green light to tackle the most wide open of the novice chases at the festival.
This mare put a poor performance in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, in which her jumping fell apart early as she lost her confidence, well behind her at Warwick a few weeks later with a runaway 13-length success in the Grade 2 Hampton Novices’ Chase under a 5lb penalty.
She jumped much better there and it is encouraging that the form is already working out with well-beaten third The Goffer landing an ultra-competitive handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival off a mark of 138 next time.
Galia Des Liteaux ran to a Racing Post Rating of 153 there and will be a massive player if replicating that kind of performance in receipt of 7lb from the boys in the Brown Advisory.
The peak RPR from a gelding in a staying novice chase this season is 160, and if Galia Des Liteaux gets into a rhythm with her jumping early doors on ground which could compromise the chances of others, she is well capable of striking at the highest level.