HORSE RACING FIXTURES AND RESULTS
HORSE RACING FEATURE
Cheltenham 'bankers': Championship races preview
Adam Houghton looks at the recent record of short-priced favourites in the championship races at the Cheltenham Festival, and considers the chances of this year's leading protagonists.
For the second year in succession, the Cheltenham Festival will go ahead without the presence of 2015 Champion Hurdle winner, Faugheen. With both he and Annie Power on the sidelines, the 2017 renewal of the Champion Hurdle looks likely to be one of the most open in recent memory. Buveur D’air heads the betting at the time of writing, but J.P. McManus' six-year-old is trading at 3/1 with most firms and – to put that into some context – the Champion Hurdle favourite has not returned an SP that big since Back In Front and Hardy Eustace were sent off the 7/2 joint market-leaders in 2005.
The Champion Hurdle may lack a standout contender – in the betting at least - but the same cannot be said of the three remaining championship races: the Champion Chase, the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Gold Cup. Indeed, the respective market-leaders for that trio of prizes are quickly entering the hallowed territory of Cheltenham 'banker' and, with the Festival less than a month away, now is a good time to assess their relative chances, while also examining how the most recent hotpots have fared in the same events.