There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a major gamble being landed. It’s what makes major horse racing events like the Cheltenham Festival so special.
With that in mind, which longshot horses look to have the potential to outrun their odds? We take a look at four.
American (Cheltenham Gold Cup)
Highly-regarded Harry Fry trained eight-year-old American has been supplemented by his owners, The Jago Family Partnership, for the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the cost of a cool £27,500. He’s been installed in the betting at 25/1 – a tempting each-way price.
Heavy snow followed by occasional rain in the weeks and days leading up to Cheltenham mean there is a reasonable chance of this year’s Festival centrepiece race being run on the soft ground American relishes. He won all three starts of his novice chase campaign last year on that going.
Although pulled up when well-supported in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on reappearance, American proved hanging in open company was not beyond him when runner-up in the Cotswold Chase behind Definitly Red on Festival Trials Day last time out. They should now re-oppose in the Gold Cup.
Fabulous Saga (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)
The last four Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winners have been double figure prices including Penhill for Willie Mullins last season, and it’s the softer the better for Fabulous Saga. The six-year-old has demonstrated steady improvement since making his debut under rules in April 2017.
A winner of six of his 12 races, including an Irish point, Fabulous Saga was particularly impressive in the most testing conditions in a Grade 3 novice stayers event at Cork. He made all, acting far superior to anything else on heavy ground to land the spoils by 70 lengths.
Fabulous Saga also followed that up with another front-running performance in a Grade 2 at Limerick and ran too poorly to be true when a 24-length last of seven at the Dublin Racing Festival. Different tactics may be called for in the 3m Albert Bartlett as he tackles the undulations of Prestbury Park, but 20/1 odds in the Cheltenham betting 2018 at Paddy Power cannot be ignored if the rain keeps coming.
Frodon (Ryanair Chase)
This year’s Ryanair Chase has already cut up badly with the likes of Coney Island, Fox Norton, Top Notch and Waiting Patiently all missing the Festival due to injury, loss of form or connections going in search of other targets. Course and distance form on soft ground for this intermediate championship race over 2m 5f could be key and Frodon has that.
Trained by Paul Nicholls, this six-year-old is a dual scorer around Cheltenham at this trip in the likely conditions. Last year’s Ryanair winner Un De Sceaux is respected of course, but he’s already a short-price favourite following high-profile withdrawals.
It leaves Frodon as strong each-way value at 12/1 for a renewal that is likely to contain below the average 11 runners, as more entries fall by the wayside. Many have other Festival assignments which they are better suited to, but this is Frodon’s target.
Wholestone (Stayers’ Hurdle)
If you’re looking to back a horse that loves running around Cheltenham, then look no further than the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Stayers’ Hurdle hope Wholestone. He has never finished outside the first three – no matter the grade or calibre of opposition – in seven career starts at this venue.
The seven-year-old ran into a place at last year’s Festival in the Albert Bartlett and the staying hurdlers division has a wide-open feel to it this season. Wholestone is available at 14/1, which is great each-way betting value given his Cheltenham record.
Handler Twiston-Davies warmed up for the Festival by saddling the winner of the Imperial Cup – a competitive handicap hurdle at Sandown. Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, meanwhile, have had a terrific season, with nearly £800,000 in prize money won in Britain alone.