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Nic Ladds 14th Nov 2008 - 16:07

Jump for joy as the National Hunt season begins again!

Here we go again! The magical six months that is the jumps season proper has begun, and excitement is already brewing. Trainers have begun setting out their stalls by letting their star horses have an early run out, and we're going to try and find some early ante post value in some of the season's biggest races.

The Elite Hurdle saw the reappearance of last year's Champion Hurdle winner, Katchit, who on his reappearance was soundly beaten into third behind by Nicky Henderson's Chomba Womba immediately putting himself into the Champion Hurdle picture at 25/1.

Paul Nicholls will be licking his lips with the return of the jump racing schedule as he once again has the first two in the betting for the Gold Cup. One of whom, Denman has been the hot topic of discussion pre - season, after a routine operation for an abnormal heart rhythm incurred complications and made the great horse ill.

Denman's recovery has thankfully been speedy and it will be fascinating to watch the horse's progress throughout the season as he builds up to another titanic clash with stable mate and arch - rival Kauto Star in the season's show piece. The two horses are currently available at 5/4 and 5/2 respectively in the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting.

The Champion Chase is yet again dominated by Nicholls's Master Minded who won brilliantly last year and is currently the even money favourite to repeat the triumph.

Much more open is the Ladbrokes World Hurdle where Inglis Drever is 3/1 to record a staggering fourth success in the race. While Howard Johnson will be doing everything he can to ready Inglis Drever for the contest. A better value bet at longer odds is the Alan King trained Franchoek.

Franchoek has never been out of the first two at his beloved Cheltenham, won well in the Imperial Cup last season and should have stamina in abundance, making the horse a perfect candidate for the 3m World Hurdle and the 20/1 on offer could look huge come the big day.

The best looking ante post bet at this stage for Cheltenham looks to be last year's beaten Champion Hurdle favourite, Sizing Europe.

Sent off last year with big expectations, the horse appeared to be cruising coming up to second last but something clearly went amiss and the horse finished well down the field having been in what was surely a winning position. Had Sizing Europe won the race last year, surely the price would be much shorter than the current 8/1 available.

The horse is due to make its reappearance in the Grade 1 Maplewood Hurdle at Punchestown against some tough opponents. If we see a big run there the price will most likely shorten, so it could well be wise to get on now at the 8/1 available with William Hill.

Along with Cheltenham we have many other great days to look forward to over the coming months with the King George VI chase, the Punchestown festival and of course the Grand National to name but a few, it is sure to be yet another exciting jump season with plenty of money to be made on all the big races which will be regularly previewed right here.

Ante Post Cheltenham Bets:

Champion Hurdle - Sizing Europe 8/1 (NAP)
World Hurdle - Franchoek 20/1 (NB)


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