Top jockey, winning distances and more

Four Sporting Life contributors take a look at the Cheltenham Festival’s special markets and pick a selection that catches their eye.

Longest Win Distance Race – National Hunt Chase at 6/1 (Sky Bet)

I have thought for some time that Gaillard du Mesnil is the perfect horse for the National Hunt Chase and I expect him to win by a wide margin.

A second-season freshman, just five and a half lengths behind L’Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at last season’s festival, he scored a well-deserved first success over fences in Class 1 Neville Hotels Novices’ Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and he formed a lot better than the mere result behind Mighty Potter via an under-trip last time out.

Endurance is not a problem for him having also belted third in the Irish Grand National last season and has all the qualities and experience to make him ideal for this test. Gaillard du Mesnil wouldn’t be out of place in Brown Advisory this year either, and he has a major class advantage over his rivals – he’s at least 12lb clear of Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings.

Granted, Constitution Hill in the champion’s hurdle is a problem considering winning distances, but I’d rather take Gaillard du Mesnil to put his opponents to flight. Andrew Asquith

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Irish coached 1-2-3 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on 11/4. (SkyBet)

Irish horses have won the last four Gold Cup renewals and while we’ve only had one clean win over places (1-2-3) for Irish-trained runners in the same period, there seems to be a very solid chance we’ll get this one Let’s see another.

If you think Bravemansgame might not quite see it up the hill then you’re into Protectorate, Ahoy Senor and Sounds Russian to hold the home in the end, while Irish horses like Noble Yeats andStadler It looks like as if they stay late in the day when others get tired. They’re both strong contenders for some of the action if Galopin Des Champs and A Plus Tard really stamp their class on the proceeding, so 11/4 is a pretty attractive price. Matt Brocklebank

Runners trained in Ireland win all 7 races on Friday at 3/1 (Sky Bet)

The Irish won all seven day rounds of the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season and it’s not hard to see the same scenario playing out this time.

Irish runners dominate betting for the Triumph Hurdle, Albert Bartlett and Mares’ Chase while also providing five of the top six in the Cheltenham Gold Cup market including hot favorite Galopin des Champs.

Weighting the numbers will give the Brits a better chance in the Hunter Hunt than in the rated events but the Irish still have a strong team and account for four of the top five of the bets with the exception of Ferns Lock, which was played in Gowran on the won Saturday and is an unlikely runner.

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The Brits will also have plenty of credible challengers in the County Handicap Hurdle and the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle but the Irish have gained the upper hand at these events in recent years and are responsible for the top three in betting for both races . The Irish again have some undiscovered likely movers up their ranks for these handicap hurdles. Tony McFadden

Danny Mullins becomes leading jockey with 14/1 (bet365 and Betfred)

Specialty markets for Cheltenham are, by their own definition, novelty affairs and should not be taken too seriously. Whether any of the quoted odds represent any real value for any combination of outcomes – top jockey/trainer markets or which race has the longest win distance – is debatable, but at small stakes there are a few markets that make a little appeal .

First up is the Champion Hurdle, the longest distance race of the entire week as Constitution Hill is so far from its opponents and doesn’t mind the skies opening until Tuesday. That bet could be in the bin by the end of Tuesday’s game though, so look for one that covers all four days – Willie Mullins became champion coach a couple of years ago, although he didn’t send out a winner on either of the first two days – I will Use Danny Mullins as lead jockey.

There’s an assumption in the market that Paul Townend, currently quota-on, already has this in his pocket, but Mullins has a very intelligent book of his own horse rides that would be clear first strings in other yards, and suffers just that an unfortunate fall from one of the other riders so that spare parts will become available as the meeting progresses. Graeme North

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