A little preview to jump start your National Hunt season
We are on the verge of getting full swing in to the national hunt season which means, thrills, spills, the Grand National, Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy going at it and of course, Kauto Star.
Today at this very early stage of the jumps season old favourites like Lacdoudal, Fundamentalist and Laskari are all having a stab at a valuable prize at Aintree, then Tidal Bay, Monet's Garden and Kicks For Free among others all go in the Old Roan Chase.
Despite all the negative attention to Wetherby racecourse the Charlie Hall Chase should be another classic renewal with it being the first significant 3m chase of the season, while November also sees the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, won last year by Imperial Commander, then finally the Hennessy meeting at Newbury, which has had the likes of What's Up Boys, Celestial Gold and Denman grace it with their presence in recent years.
December sees the Tingle Creek meeting at Sandown, Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, culminating in the traditional Boxing Day extravaganza that is the William Hill sponsored King George Day with the great Kauto Star priced at 10/11 to record his fourth victory in a row.
We then get a peak at some of the Grand National hopefuls in the Welsh National at Chepstow, then the Cheltenham warm ups get serious with the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot, seen as a Champion Chase trial, then in February we return to Ascot for the final big Grade 1 before Cheltenham, the Ascot Chase that has seen the likes of One Man, Teeton Mill, and Kauto Star capture this prize.
Then the big one, the Cheltenham Festival that is still without a doubt the most exciting festival of racing in the world that captures the hearts and minds of a nation featuring the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and of course, the coveted Gold Cup.
Hurricane Fly is the early favourite for the Champion Hurdle at 3/1, while Master Minded goes for his third Champion Chase in a row at even money, then the big one, Kauto Star at 7/4 renews his rivalry with stable mate Denman who can be backed now in our antepost market at 6/1.
April sees us head straight for the Grand National meeting at Aintree which was last year memorably won by Mon Mome who sprang a 100/1 shock, and is currently 33/1 to win his second in a row this time around, while a host of horses lead the market on 25/1, including Big Fella Thanks and State Of Play.
The season culminates with the Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr then finally the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on the last weekend of the month and there is nothing quite like watching the closest of finishes up the hill at Sandown.
That's the jumps calendar in brief, and on top of the great races and horses, we have epic battles between trainers and jockeys to look forward to. Can anyone catch Paul Nicholls this season?
David Pipe, Nicky Henderson or Jonjo O'Neill could all give it a good stab, and we get to see the classic McCoy/Walsh rivalry renew itself in what should be a real ding-dong battle for the champion jockey title.
It certainly is shaping up to be an exciting season ahead and don't forget to keep checking William Hill's ante-post and specials markets for prices and great bets, while if you want to get your Cheltenham bets on early we already have nine of the best races from the meeting priced up.