With Nicky Henderson being short priced favourite to be leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival next week, Crockford casts his eye over his yard’s leading fancies and considers if they really are the Dead Certs that the markets suggest

William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle – My Tent Or Yours (11/8)

Since his imperious win in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury he has been many punters idea of a certainty in the first race of the Festival. However, Crockford would caution punters to be not overly impressed with his win in a slowly run race. Remember he could not beat stablemate Chatterbox the outing before and  who may reoppose him again.  11/8 looks far too short for a horse that has the likes of the very useful Irish challengers of Jezki, Champagne Fever and Un Atout to beat. Perhaps punters should not also overlook the progressive Melodic Rendevous or experienced and highly thought of Dodging Bullets either.

Verdict – Lay   

Racing Post Arkle Trophy- Simonsig (4/6)

Spoken now in the same breath as Sprinter Sacre this grey looks a chasing natural with the potential speed to be a real contender in a Champion Hurdle. His wins so far have been facile and he has yet to be tested. The front running versatile Overturn will test him and can match him for speed. If Arvika Ligeonniere’s jumping holds up and he is not  too phased by the fact he will not be able to so easily dominate he could serve it up to Simonsig too.

Verdict – Dead Cert

Sprinter Sacre
Sprinter Sacre – the Dead Cert of the festival

 

Queen Mother Champion Chase – Sprinter Sacre (1/4)

“Awesome, magnificent, an equine machine and the best horse in training” are the superlatives that have been used to describe Henderson’s charge. Crockford can not help but agree. Will any of his rivals get him off the bridle? If Sizing Europe and Cue Card do not swerve the race then they may just do that. But are they really in the same league?

Verdict – Dead Cert

 

Jewson Novices Chase – Captain Conan (4/1)

Captain Conan is highly regarded and has stepped up another gear this season over fences. Connections joked that he added 20mph to his speed. His last outing saw him almost beat, but that margin may well have been deceiving. Crockford believes that his chances are very much bound up in who his rivals are. Aupcharlie would certainly have to be respected but if Boston Bob, Arvika Legeonneire  or Dynaste  are present they would be feared.

Verdict – Wait 

Oscar Whisky
Oscar Whisky World beater?

 

Ladbrokes World Hurdle – Oscar Whisky (7/2)

If there was to be a Ryanair Hurdle over 2m4f Oscar Whisky would be a certainty for that race. Well as there is not the debate has raged on between pundits on whether the Champion or the World Hurdle is his race. Evidence more than suggests he stays the 3m at Cheltenham especially if the surface is not bottomless. With the defection of Big Bucks Crockford feels that this may be his year. Those to watch would be his rival Reve De Sivola, the underrated Peddlers Cross and the highly thought of Irish raiders Monksland and Solwhit.

Verdict – Dead Cert

 

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup – Bobs Worth  (3/1)

Winner of the Hennessy in impressive style and a two time Festival winner Crockford can understand the punters attraction to this Henderson horse.  However, the talk around this favourite seems to overshadow the facts that the other Henderson fancy and previous Gold Cup winner Long Run has to be a significant danger. Sir Des Champs has got back to winning ways too and has proven Festival form. If things go right for Captain Chris and Silviniaco Conti they may be too much for him too. 3/1 is certainly not value.

Verdict – Lay

 

(Featured Photograph – Nicky Henderson by Stuart Rice)

(First Photograph – Sprinter Sacre races up the Cheltenham Hill by Stuart Rice)

(Second Photograph – Oscar Whisky in the paddock at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)